The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #101527   Message #2048012
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Coltman
10-May-07 - 09:56 AM
Thread Name: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
Subject: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
In the tradition of Joe Offer, who's given us lists of the Silver Burdett school-age songbooks that taught folk and near-folk songs to so many people as kids, some of them for the first time in their lives ...

A word should be said for the Robbins Pocket-Size school songbooks of the 1930s and 1940s. They'd fit in a BIG pocket -- they were approximately 9" x 6", bound, as they boasted, "in colorful 'Duro-style' covers for more durable use in homes, schools, assemblies, libraries, fraternities, camps, civic and recreational groups." Most were full of old pop standards, but some included folk standards as well.

Their flagship songbook, widely circulated in schools, was SONGS FOR AMERICA. 163 songs in 144 pages from the Harold Robbins and Leo Feist catalogs "plus national songs, ballads, campfire melodies, etc." I no longer have my copy, but someone may. This book was standard equipment, so we could sing together in school singing periods (one room schools in eastern Pennsylvania, grades 3 through 5, which for me was 1945-8). Indeed a copy given to every kid who wanted on. Freebies! Of course I took it.

My memory is that the book included, along with standard patriotic songs and hymns, a good few folk songs like "Red River Valley," "Home On the Range" and "Polly-Wolly Doodle," plus a great many ancient pop / near-folk songs like "Little Liza Jane," "Oh Susanna,""Little Brown Church in the Wildwood," "Juanita," maybe others like "Listen to the Mocking Bird," and so on.

I hope someone who still has a copy will post the entire contents.

Meanwhile I will post, in a second message, the table of contents of the real treasure in the series, and the only one of them I still have: AMERICAN COWBOY SONGS.

The series was quite extensive, drawing on the Robbins-Feist catalog as well as standards. Most of them were largely pop or religious. Most of these I never saw, as they didn't seem as promising, but for completeness sake I list them below. They included (I draw from the description in the front and back inside covers of my copy of the only one I have left):

ALL-AMERICAN SONG BOOK - 120 favorite song classics in 144 pages, examples given are pop songs.
MERRILY WE SING -   176 songs in 144 pages, examples given are pop.
FIFTY FAMOUS FAVORITES and Fifty Other Favorites - pop examples in 96 pages.
SING WITH LUCY MONROE - 82 songs in 96 pages, including Star-Spangled Banner, Marching Along Together, Whispering, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, The Rose of No Man's Land, etc.
SONGS OF THE GAY NINETIES - no examples given.
GOLDEN TREASURY SONG BOOK - barbershop stuff, including Give a Man a Horse He Can Ride.
GEOFFREY O'HARA HARMONY HYMNS - Hold the Fort, Crossing the Bar, etc.
VICTORY SONG BOOK - Anchors Aweigh, Marine's Hymn, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, etc. (World War II was current news).
AMERICA SINGS - 188 songs on 144 pages. "Patriotic songs, hymns, folk tunes," pop.
101 HYMNS OF THE HOUR OF CHARM - My Task, Brighten the Corner Where You Are, The Old Rugged Cross, etc.