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Dena Epstein Root & Cady Research Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Epstein

Scope and Content of the Collection

Research notes and other materials about the Root & Cady firm, other music publishers, and the publishing trade in the third quarter of the 19th century by Dena J. Polacheck Epstein. The materials were collected in support of Epstein’s master’s thesis at the University of Illinois Library School.

Includes mostly research notes from secondary sources such as newspapers, city directories, contemporary publications, and later publications about musicians and the music trade. Includes notes about pre-Fire publications in several large libraries, and also some correspondence by Epstein involving her attempts to find relevant detail and facts about the persons and business she was investigating, both for her thesis on the Root & Cady firm and her subsequent publications. Contains, in addition, directory listings, lists of Root & Cady music publications, programs, clippings, information on some songs and composers, drafts of Epstein’s publications, a publishing agreement and contract, and reviews of her book, as well as royalty statements.

Dates of publication rather than the dates noted by Epstein are used in the inventory, as much material is from secondary sources.


  • Creation: 1843-1987
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1858 - 1871



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Dena Epstein Root & Cady Research Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Dena Epstein Root & Cady Research Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Dena Epstein

Music librarian and musicologist.

Dena J. Polacheck Epstein (1916-2013) earned a BA from the University of Chicago, and both BS and MS degrees from the University of Illinois-Urbana. In the early 1940s she began collecting materials and notes for her master’s thesis on the Root & Cady music publishing firm in Chicago. Her 1943 thesis was titled “Music Publishing in Chicago Prior to 1871: The Firm of Root & Cady, 1858-1871.” This was the first of three published versions, the second issued as a continuing series of chapters in Music Library Association Notes, with additions by both Epstein and Notes editor Richard S. Hill. It was revised and published again in 1969 for the Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography series.

Epstein continued to collect information on the music publishing business while employed in several different libraries. In 1964 she became Assistant Music Librarian at the University of Chicago and remained there until retiring in 1986. Her work relating to African American folk music before the Civil War is held by the Columbia College Center for Black Music Research.

History of the Root & Cady Publishing Company

Chicago music publishing firm founded in 1858.

Root & Cady found success in publishing popular songs during the American Civil War. The firm was led by senior partner Ebenezer Towner Root, junior partner Chauncey Marvin Cady, and Root’s older brother and composer George Frederick Root. George Frederick Root is known for his compositions “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!” and “The Battle Cry of Freedom.” The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed much of the firm’s inventory, leading to bankruptcy and an unsuccessful restructuring.


3.6 Linear Feet (3 boxes, 4 card boxes)


Research notes and other materials concerning the firm of Root & Cady, a Chicago based music publishing firm that operated from 1858-1871, collected by Dena Epstein. Also includes information on other 19th century music publishers and composers.

Collection Stack Location

1 14 6


Gift, Dena J. Epstein, 1992.

Related Material

See also the Dena J. Epstein papers, Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Processed by

Lenore Glanz, 2010.

Inventory of the Dena Epstein Root & Cady Research Papers, 1843-1987, bulk 1858-1871
Lenore Glanz
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States