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Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster was born in 1826 in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, now a neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and died in New York City in 1864. As a professional songwriter, he composed hundreds of songs, many of which are so well-known that some people consider them folk songs. But "Old Folks at Home," "Oh Susannah," "My Old Kentucky Home" and so many more all came from the pen of Foster and remain familiar around the world.

The Carnegie Library has books and DVDs about Foster and a number of CDs of his music, some of which are listed below. If you are a musician, you might want to check out our music scores. The Internet is also chock full of useful sites and some of those are also listed below.

The Doo-Dah Days: Stephen Foster Music and Heritage Festival in Lawrenceville has become an annual event in July here in Pittsburgh.

If you'd like to listen to many of Stephen Fosters songs online by various artists, go to our Stephen Foster Playlist at American Song, and log in with your library barcode number. You can choose to play the whole playlist or individual tracks.


Selected Resources at the
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Lawrenceville: Stephen Collins Foster
This is part of the Lawrenceville Neighborhood Tour in the Bridging the Urban Landscape historic photo collection from the library's Pennsylvania Department.
Emerson, Ken
Doo-dah!: Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture
ML 410 .F78 E46 1997
This book is a biography of Foster and begins with a background of his family in Pittsburgh. "Although his songs celebrated the rural South, he scarcely set foot there, spending most of his life in Pittsburgh, the smoky cradle of America's industrial revolution."
American Experience: Stephen Foster
DVD ML 410 .F78 S835 2006x
This documentary film, from the PBS "American Experience" series and inspired by Ken Emerson's Doo-Dah! (above), recounts the life story of Stephen Foster, explores the impact of Foster's music on American popular culture, and examines the treatment of African Americans in Foster's songs. There is a companion website with a teacher's guide and additional information.
Foster, Stephen Collins
Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster
Compact Disc Po Fos 22055
This CD from American Roots Publishing is a collection of Foster's most beloved compositions and lesser-known exquisite parlor songs of his day sung by contemporary musical artists.
Chestnut Brass Company
Foster for Brass
Compact Disc Bd Che 22341
Nineteenth Century Brass Band Music based on the Songs of Stephen Foster

Selected Internet Resources