OHIO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Daniel Decatur Emmett Papers
OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION
Number: MSS 355
Title: Daniel Decatur Emmett Papers
Creator: D. D. Emmett
Media: Manuscripts, booklets, loose sheets,
Quantity: 6.5 cubic feet
Location: Ohio History Center
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE COLLECTION
Musician and performer Daniel Decatur Emmett was born in Mount Vernon,
Ohio, on October 29, 1815. As a child, Emmett had an interest in music. He
taught himself how to play the fiddle and began composing his own songs. At the
age of seventeen, Emmett enlisted in the United States Army and served as a
fife player. When he left the army in 1835, Emmett joined a traveling circus. Later
he became associated with minstrel shows and helped to define that genre.
Minstrel shows traveled around the United States, presenting skits and musical
performances. The minstrels commonly dressed in baggy, mismatched clothing
and painted their faces black to make fun of African Americans. Minstrel shows
became very popular in the United States during the years before the Civil War.
Emmett is best known for his musical compositions. He is most famous for
writing "Dixie" in 1859. The song became the anthem of Confederate soldiers
during the Civil War. In addition, Emmett also composed many other songs,
including "Old Dan Tucker," "Turkey in the Straw," and "The Blue Tail Fly."
This item is a finding aid or inventory to an Ohio Historical Society collection or series. Finding aids are descriptive access tools that provide more complete information about a collection than you will find in the online catalog record. For more information on the collection and to view its contents, contact the Ohio Historical Society.