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Lester S. Levy sheet music papers

Identifier: MS-0193

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection of music collector, Lester S. Levy, consists of correspondence, speeches, printed material, and bills and spans the years 1933 to 1983. The collection supports the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music already in Special Collections.


  • Creation: 1933-1983


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Special Collections department. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions.

Biographical / Historical

Lester S. Levy, music historian and sheet music collector, was born in Philadelphia October 22, 1896. The family later moved to Baltimore where Levy was educated at Friends School and The Johns Hopkins University. After service in the Army during World War I, he began his business career with the M.S. Levy Co., a firm begun by his grandfather. He retired in 1958 as president of Men's Hats Inc, successor to his grandfather's firm.

Levy began collecting sheet music in 1930, and his love of the music and its history resulted in a collection that numbers over 30,000 pieces.

Levy wrote three books on American music of the 19th and early 20th centuries: "Give Me Yesterday" (1975), "Flashes of Merriment" (1971), and "Grace Notes in American History" (1967). He was very active in civic and religious affairs in Baltimore.

Levy died in Baltimore, MD, Sept. 19, 1989.


7.34 Cubic Feet (5 record center cartons, 1 letter size document box, 1 legal size document box, 1 legal half-size document box)

Language of Materials



Lester S. Levy was a music historian and sheet music collector. His music papers contain correspondence, speeches, printed material, and bills related to his collecting activities.


The collection forms four series: Series 1, Correspondence; Series 2, Speeches; Series 3, Writings; and Series 4, Business Papers . Correspondence is the largest series in the collection and demonstrates Mr. Levy’s generosity with his time and expertise in helping researchers locate or identify music.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Lester S. Levy donated his music correspondence to the Special Collections Division of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library on January 14, 1987. The Accession number is 86-87.11.

Related Materials note

Special Collections also retains the Lester S. Levy collection of sheet music. Please see the online guide at

Processing Information

The collection was re-arranged in December 1997 by Joan Grattan.

Liz Beckman revised the Biographical note and collection and Correspondence series Scope and Content notes in this finding aid in December 2023 to bring them into compliance with Johns Hopkins guidelines for inclusive and conscientious description (2023). Additionally, the collection will be further reviewed for content related to racist minstrelsy in American popular music. The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.

Joan Grattan
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA