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Special Collections Online at UT

Old Tennessee (Song)

Identifier: MS-2165

  • Staff Only

Songs like Farewell My Lilly Dear possess melodies and accompaniments that are simple. Foster wanted to depict African American slaves as human beings experiencing human emotions. This handwritten copy entitled Old Tennessee, includes four verses and the chorus of the song. Some words of the handwritten version differ from the 1851 published version. No musical score is included.


  • undated

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


0.1 Linear Feet


This collection consists of an unsigned, handwritten transcript of Stephen Foster's 1851 song Farewell My Lily Dear: A Plantation Melody with a variance in the text.

Biographical/Historical Note

Stephen Collins Foster was born on July 4, 1826 in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. His childhood was spent in a middle class family. His father, William B. Foster and mother, Eliza T. had ten children. Although Foster had almost no formal training in music, he became one of the most prominent songwriters of the 19th century. Indeed, some of his songs - including Oh! Susanna,Camptown Races, and Beautiful Dreamer, are still well known today. He wrote minstrels and ballads that were referred to as Ethiopian songs. Stephen Foster referred to these as American Melodies. His musical work was not particularly profitable, because in this time period there was no legal protection for his works. Many songs were sold for a flat amount. In the 1860s, he wrote songs with George Cooper. A couple of these were: There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea (1863) and Kissing in the Dark (1863). At the time of his death on January 13, 1864 in New York City, he had precisely 37 cents to his name.


Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

This collection is property of the University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA