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University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA 15260-6133)
James Cassaro (Project Director: July 2020 to present)
Providing Open Access to Photoplay Music: The Mirskey Collection Digitization Project

The cataloging and digitization of the Mirskey Collection, a set of approximately 3,000 cinema scores published during the early motion picture era, dating from ca. 1895 to 1927.

The University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) seeks a grant to support the Mirskey Collection Digitization Project. This two-year project will process and digitize sheet music for silent [mute] film accompaniment in the Mirskey Collection (MC), held by the ULS Theodore M. Finney Music Library. The MC contains approximately 3,000 sets of “photoplay” music, or music published specifically for cinema orchestra, with each set averaging fifteen instrumental parts, for a total of approximately 45,000 pages. Music for silent film accompaniment is an important resource for humanities scholars and musicologists exploring media studies, popular music, historical art music, gendered activities, class and social stratification, and a variety of other areas. Yet, silent film music remains very difficult for scholars and performers to access. The proposed project will preserve the entire MC and make it freely available online for research, performance, public programming, and exhibition.

Project fields:
Music History and Criticism

Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Preservation and Access

$145,897 (approved)
$145,897 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2021 – 6/30/2023