1911 UVa Football Songbook

A quick post from the depths of Virginia musical history tonight. As part of a lot of miscellaneous University of Virginia memorabilia I got from eBay recently, I got an unusual item: a University of Virginia songbook that was handed out at football games. (Scans of the whole thing are available on Flickr.)  This particular instance dates from 1911, and probably from the November 4 game against Wake Forest. (The attentive among us will note that in 1911, six games into the season, Virginia was 6–0, while the uncharitable will note that the games were played against Hampden-Sydney, William and Mary, Randolph-Macon, Swarthmore, St John’s, and VMI.)

Football songs? Sure. All those fight songs and team specific songs that appear on Songs of Virginia really were current at one time, and sung at games. Even “Oh, Carolina.” (“They can manufacture rosin, but they’ll never, never score.”) Almost as much fun are reading the ads, for a bunch of businesses that are no longer around (the Jefferson Shaving Parlor, anyone?) As the house ad in the back exhorts, “remember the advertisers,” indeed.

The book was published “for the benefit of the University of Virginia Band,” and I suspect that—aside from contributing the text of “The Good Old Song” and maybe others—the Glee Club had nothing to do with the book, as all evidence is that the group was on hiatus in 1911. But it’s still fun to look at, and to imagine the modern attendees of Scott Stadium swaying as they sing 115-year-old words to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” never quite realizing the depth of the tradition that they are, however inadvertently, keeping alive.

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