Nineteenth-century bound sheet music offers a window into domestic music making. The accouterments of musical life—instruments and sheet music—were recognizable symbols of elite taste and education. Much nineteenth-century sheet music was bound together into volumes by owners, sometimes with ornate, personalized covers and marbled endpapers. Collecting loose sheaves of music into a bound volume gave the music greater permanency and value; bound volumes became objects for display as well as use in the parlor. Symbols of status and taste, a piano and sheet music were ubiquitous fixtures of most middle- and upper-class American parlors.
On October 19, 2014 at Dinwiddie Court House, a Virginia historical marker was dedicated to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (also spelled Keckly). Elizabeth, or ‘Lizzy’ Keckley was born near Petersburg and was a slave on the Burwell Plantation. Her father was Armistead Burwell, the master of the plantation and her mother was a slave woman. She took the name of her slave father George Hobbs. Elizabeth Keckley had a son, George Keckley, who was killed at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, during the first year of the Civil War. As the offspring of a white father, Alexander Kirkland, who had raped his mother, George Keckley passed as white and was thus able to enlist in the Union army at a time of the war when blacks were prohibited from doing so.