Making the Sacred Harp Museum Accessible: A Newly Donated and Digitized 1909 White Book

Cover page of J. L. White’s 1909 The Sacred Harp: Fifth Edition, donated to the Sacred Harp Museum by Charles Whitmer.

The Sacred Harp Museum is thrilled to announce a new addition to the collection which will help us further our goal of preserving Sacred Harp heritage while making it as accessible as possible to the singing public. We express sincere thanks to Charles Whitmer of Conroe, Texas, for his generosity in donating a 1909 Sacred Harp, Fifth Edition, the first of J. L. White’s three different attempts at revising the Sacred Harp between 1909 and 1911. The book is a rarity in part because it was rejected by most Sacred Harp singers, who felt that White’s modernized harmonies and added gospel music ventured too far from tradition. While a contingent of singers continues to use his moderated 1911 revision, the 1909 “White book” never found sustained use at conventions. For further reading about the competing revisions of the Sacred Harp in the early twentieth century, see Buell Cobb’s The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and its Music.

We are especially excited that Charles’ donation will help us launch a new initiative to make our collections more accessible. The expansion of Sacred Harp singing well beyond its traditional borders has created a worldwide audience for our collections—while anyone is welcome to visit the Museum in Carrollton, Georgia, we recognize that this is not feasible for many singers. Along with the hard copy of the book, Charles also provided us with a digital version which we’re making available online to anyone who is interested. We look forward to making more of our collections accessible online, and welcome any suggestions of material that would be of interest, as well as books or other materials that you may wish to donate.

About Nathan Rees

Nathan Rees is a member of the Board of Directors of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company and co-edits the Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter. Originally from Utah, he lives in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
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One Response to Making the Sacred Harp Museum Accessible: A Newly Donated and Digitized 1909 White Book

  1. Charles Whitmer says:

    Thank you very much for your gracious message and I’m delighted that you are making the scanned pages available to others. Many thanks also to Robert Vaughn for his suggestion for me to donate it to the museum. I’ve been to the museum before and am happy that this rare revision will find a new home there.

    This book was given to me by an elderly couple (non-singers) whom I knew decades ago via the folk music world as they knew I sang Sacred Harp and they happened to come across this book somewhere at a sale in East Texas back in the early 1990’s.

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