Today in History: W.C. Handy & the Blues

Today in History–September 28–the Library of Congress features William Christopher Handy, whose song the “Memphis Blues” was published on this date in 1912. Handy introduced the blues into mainstream music and became known as the father of the blues. Find out more by visiting the Today in History section, then click the links below to access a rich collection of blues music resources.


One tenth of a nation. Newsmakers film – W.C. Handy at 5:03

W.C. Handy song recordings

“Memphis Blues” sheet music

Oh! Didn’t he ramble”  sheet music parts: piano, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, bass, flute, 1st clarinet in A, 1st cornet in A, 2nd cornet in A, trombone, drums

Oh! Didn’t he ramble” sheet music parts: solo B-flat cornet (2), 1st B-flat cornet, 1st B-flat clarinet (2), tuba (2), drums (2), 2nd B-flat cornet, 3rd B-flat cornet, solo E-flat alto, 1st E-flat alto, 2nd & 3rd E-flat altos (2), B-flat tenors (2), 1st trombone, 2nd trombone, 2nd B-flat clarinet, 3rd B-flat clarinet, B-flat bass (treb clef), 3rd trombone or B-flat bass (bass clef), baritone (bass and treb clefs), E-flat clarinet (2), E-flat cornet (2), oboe, bassoon, piccolo

W.C. Handy historical newspaper coverage

S.J.Res.144 – A joint resolution designating September 5, 1983, as “National Beale Street, Home-of-the-Blues Day” to commemorate the redevelopment of the historic area where W.C. Handy, originator of the famous music form known as the “Blues”, composed the “Memphis Blues” some seventy years ago

William Christopher Handy’s “Memphis Blues” Was Published September 28, 1912 America’s Library

“Now What a Time”: Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943

Blues songs and blues music from The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip

Blues songs from Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942

Blues song recordings

Blues sheet music

Chicago blues songs lyrics from oral history

Chicago Blues and Jazz: A New Story Map on the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection

Blues images

Blues manuscripts and text documents

Blues music historical newspaper mentions

Blues-related legislation

Library blog posts