Military Marches and the Sousa Archives

With Memorial Day and military march concerts around in the corner in the United States, the IDHH is featuring a collection related to the “American March King”: the Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library.

John Philip Sousa (1854–1932), known as the “American March King,” was a conductor and composer best known for his military marches. Some of his well-known marches are “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (the National March of the United States of America) and “The Liberty Bell” (used as the theme for the television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus). In addition to his music, Sousa helped to develop the sousaphone, a brass instrument related to the tuba that is easier to perform while marching.

The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music (SACAM) seeks to document America’s diverse music heritage through the acquisition and preservation of archival records and historical artifacts in multiple formats. Their Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection is a collection of images of photographs taken from multiple viewpoints of musical instruments in the Center’s physical collections, ranging from flutes to trumpets to guitars; some of the instruments also have a 3D digital model constructed that can be viewed online as well.

Here are a few of our favorite instruments:

image of a clarinet from the front side
Clarinet [front side view]. [undated] University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Courtesy of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library.
image of a heckelphone from the front side
Heckelphone [front side view]. 1926. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Courtesy of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library.
image of coronet from the right side
Cornet [right side view]. 1880. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Courtesy of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library.
image of a soprano saxophone from the right side
Saxophone (soprano) [right side view]. 1947. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Courtesy of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library.

Want to see more?

Visit the IDHH to browse the Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection or to see more items and collections from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library.          

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day to remember the U.S. military personnel who have died in the line of duty and also a time to reflect on the soldiers and civilians whose lives were forever changed by U.S.-involved conflicts around the world. With a mind toward examining U.S. military history while wishing for world peace and a peaceful memorial day for veterans, military personnel, and people everywhere, the IDHH highlights collections from across Illinois that evince this history, remember veterans, and memorialize soldiers and civilians touched by war.
The state and its residents have a long history of involvement in most of the U.S.’s major conflicts, from the Civil War to present day. The IDHH’s numerous military history collections are particularly focused on the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, including the materials highlighted here. While there are dozens of institutions contributing invaluable content, the focus is on museums, following up last week’s post on International Museum Day:  Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum and the Midway Village and Museum Center and the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County.
Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum’s collection includes photographic portraits of more than 70 Civil War veterans from the Rockford Area. The collection was previously curated and digitized by the Midway Village and Museum Center. The men in the photographs below represent just three of a small but nonetheless indispensable number of the more than 8,000 Illinoisans who served in the Civil War. Photographs were taken years to decades after the conflict, archived in 1968, and digitized only within the last few years, indicating a long remembrance of the Civil War and its impact on Illinois and its people.


The Bess Bower Dunn Museum features photographs, artifacts, and postcards pertaining to life at what was once a major U.S. Army post in the Fort Sheridan collection. The collection includes photographs of men and women posted at Fort Sheridan from the Spanish American War through the Vietnam War era. In addition to providing a record of everything from the most mundane to the most unusual aspects of life at Fort Sheridan, the collection is especially focused on the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) of Fort Sheridan from its beginnings during World War II until the integration of men and women units in the late 1970s

There are many other collections in the IDHH that commemorate veterans and evince the state’s military history, including the Pritzker Military Museum and Library’s  Music of the First World War. There are also several collections provided by the Illinois State Library, including the Veterans History Project and the World War II Posters collections, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s Boys in Blue collection of photographs Civil War soldiers. There are several collections documenting the service of residents of particular towns and regions in Illinois, such as the Coal City Public Library District’s World War II – From Homefront to Warfront collection, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and Arlington Heights Historical Society’s Military History Collection, the Mel Tierney Post Servicemen File collection from the Park Ridge Public Library, digitized issues of the Melrose Park local newspaper, The Herald, from World War II provided by the Melrose Park Public Library, and Illinois State University Archive’s A University Goes to War, documenting women from the university’s involvement in World War I. For a complete list of collections provided by Illinois Digital Archive (IDA) contributing institutions, most of which are also in the DPLA, see IDA’s Military History page.