Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Daniel D. Emmett Collection, 1859-1908

E. L. Diedrich Collection

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, April 2012

Summary Information
Title: Daniel D. Emmett collection
Creator: Diedrich, D. N. (Duane Norman)
Inclusive dates: 1859-1908
Extent: 7 items
This collection contains material related to Daniel Decatur Emmett and the song "Dixie," which he published in 1860. The collection has 4 autograph items by Emmett, an additional letter, a photograph, and a first edition music score.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1989, 2004-2011. M-2443, M-4727; M-4825; M-4849; Mu226.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Daniel D. Emmett Collection, E. L. Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Daniel Decatur Emmett ("Dan") was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, on October 29, 1815. His father, Abraham Emmett, was a blacksmith, and his brother Lafayette became the first Chief Justice of Minnesota. Daniel Emmett was an apprentice for the Huron Reflector and Western Aurora newspapers, and served as a drummer and fife player with the United States Army for several years. After his discharge in July 1835, he toured as a circus performer and fiddle player, and in 1842 he organized the Virginia Minstrels in New York City. He continued to travel with minstrel shows throughout the 1840s and 1850s, and moved to Chicago in 1867, where he lived until retiring to Mount Vernon, Ohio, in 1888. He married Catherine Rives in 1853 and, after her death, Louise Brower Bird in 1879; neither union produced children. Daniel Emmett died in Mount Vernon on June 28, 1904. He achieved fame for his musical compositions, such as the folk tune "Old Dan Tucker," and is generally considered the composer of "Dixie," though its authorship is disputed.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains material related to Daniel Decatur Emmett and the song "Dixie," which he published in 1860. The collection has 4 autograph items by Emmett, as well as an additional letter, a signed photograph of Daniel Emmett, and a first edition music score of "Dixie" (1860). Two items concern the debate about the song's authorship. The collection also includes an undated holograph manuscript of Emmett's song "Old Dan Tucker." See the Detailed Box and Folder Listing for more information.

Subject Terms

    • Authorship, Disputed.
    • Emmett, Daniel Decatur, 1815-1904. Dixie.
    • Mount Vernon (Ohio)
    • Patriotic music--United States.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Emmett, Daniel Decatur, 1815-1904.
    • Alexander, Edward Porter, 1835-1910.
    • Cromwell, Fred S.
    • Emmett, Daniel Decatur, 1815-1904.
    • Firth, Pond & Co.
    Genre Terms:
    • Card photographs (photographs)
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Scores.
    • Signatures (names)
    • Songs (document genre)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Daniel D. Emmett collection [series]
      [1859] . Daniel Decatur Emmett AQS. (1 page)
    "Daniel D. Emmett Author of Dixie. 1859."
      1860 . Firth Pond & Co. printed score; New York, New York. (6 pages)
    Original printed score of "I Wish I Was in Dixie's Land."
      1893 . Fred S. Cromwell photograph; Mount Vernon, Ohio.
    Signed cabinet card photograph of Daniel Decatur Emmett.
      1895 July 6 . Daniel Decatur Emmett ALS to R[obert] U[nderwood] Johnson; Mount Vernon, Ohio. ( 1 page)
    Emmett's reaction to a Philadelphia Times article and Emmett's request that Johnson publish an article by Mr. Shreen.
      1899 Febraury 22 . Daniel Decatur Emmett AMs; Coshocton, Ohio. (1 page)
    Holograph lyrics to "Dixie!"
      1908 January 8 . E[dward] P[orter] Alexander ALS to T[homas] Cooper de Leon; South Island, South Carolina. (4 pages)
    De Leon's work on the authorship of "Dixie." Alexander's account of hearing the tune during a theater performance in the summer of 1860. Dispute over Emmett's claims to authorship.
      Undated . [Daniel Decatur Emmett] holograph lyrics to "Old Dan Tucker." (2 pages)
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library has additional published scores of "Dixie."


    Druesdow, John E. "Emmett, Daniel Decatur." American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press, 2000. doi: 18-00361.