Joseph Philbrick Webster (ca. 1840s-1874)In the Collection

Selected sources

"How a song came to be written." New York Times (2 December 1895).
"'In the sweet by and by': its history." New York Times (29 June 1901).
Appelstein, Aaron. "Joseph Philbrick Webster: nineteenth-century American songwriter." Master's Thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1975.
Beckwith, A.C. History of Walworth County, Wisconsin ... Indianapolis: Bowen, 1912, pp. 1152-57. (Google Books)
Bennett, S. Fillmore. The sweet by and by. Illustrated. New York: E.P. Dutton and Company, 1885. (Available at
Emurian, Ernst K. The sweetheart of the Civil War: the true story of the song "Lorena." Natick, Mass.: W.A. Wilde Company, 1962.
Epstein, Dena J. "Music Publishing in Chicago before 1871," Notes, 1, no. 3 (1944) through 3, no. 3 (1946). A nine-part study, in which Webster's works are noted in various contexts.
"Joseph P. Webster." Walworth County Historical Society website. Accessed 22 October 2008.
Lawson, Marion. "Ballad maker: Joseph Philbrick Webster," Wisconsin Magazine of History 37, no. 2 (1953-54): 103-8. (Available at the Wisconsin Historical Society website)
Sanjek, Russell. American popular music and its business: the first four hundred years. Vol. 2, From 1790 to 1909. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp.134-35.
Spottswood, Dick. "Wildwood Flower" in The NPR 100: The 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century, available at NPR (Accessed 5 November 2008).
Thyng, J. Warren, "The sweet by and by: story of the author." Granite State Magazine 1 (1906): 21-28.

Summary of the collection

Mills Music Library call number: WMA I, Boxes 5-6

Box 1

  • 39 autograph manuscript songs.
  • Several handwritten and typed lists of compositions; 1 draft letter.
  • Dance and other instrumental music; it is unknown whether Webster and/or others composed this music.
  • Miscellaneous compositions; reasonably complete pieces or sections; some attributed to other composers.
  • Five small bound volumes including exercises, a volume of sacred music with Latin texts, and part books for dance (?) music.

Box 2

  • Unidentified manuscripts including sketches and parts.
  • Published songs composed by Webster