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May 11, 2015

Abolitionist Hutchinson Family Sheet Music

Filed under: What's New — Lori Williamson @ 1:51 pm

The Minnesota Historical Society has a very extensive sheet music collection, focusing on Minnesota subjects, publishers, and composers. They are an emotional, celebratory, sometimes funny, and usually graphic representation of the State’s history.

Our new favorite piece of sheet music is an 1844 abolitionist song we recently acquired at an auction in New York. It was written by Jesse Hutchinson, of the famous Hutchinson Family singers. The Hutchinsons were super stars, an internationally famous family of itinerant singers, known for their four-part harmonies and abolitionist views. This song, “Get Off the Track,” may have been their most well known anti-slavery tune.

Minnesota has an important and unique connection to the Hutchinson Family Singers. Eleven years after this music was published three of the brothers, John, Asa, and Judson, homesteaded in Minnesota establishing the town of Hutchinson, on the banks of the Crow River.

This one piece of sheet music gives us a glimpse into both the cultural significance of popular music and political debate in the era just preceding Minnesota’s establishment as a Territory and the outbreak of the American Civil War.

See the article in Minnesota History for more details on the Hutchinsons’ story.

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