Archives Collection
HOWE, ELIAS                                 96-021

Physical description:

.1 l.f. manuscripts, catalog, and monograph




Purchased from Lillian Caplan, Center for Musical Antiquities, New York, January 1996.

Personal history:

Elias Howe (b. Framingham, MA, 1820; d. Watertown, MA, 6 July 1895) was a fiddler who, after collecting numerous fiddle tunes, published them, successfully sold them door to door, and opened two shops (Providence and Boston) in the early 1840s. His books of arrangements and instrument instruction were so popular that he was able to sell his business for a handsome profit, enjoy a ten-year hiatus from publishing, but continued to collect dance music and instruction books. When he reopened in 1860, he sold music, arrangements, and also instruments. Within ten years he was also collecting rare stringed instruments, and within the next ten years was a renowned dealer of the same. His sons took over the business after his death, but the company disbanded (and the collections dispersed) when it was sold in 1931.

Scope and content:

One (1) booklet on violin self-instruction [1846]. Two (2) short letters on Elias Howe Co. letterhead, April 1893 and October 1894, attributed to Howe's son, Edward Frank. One (1) trade catalog (1931) of violin instruments, accessories, and components, as well as strings for other instruments.


The catalog is found in the trade catalogs file. The letters are in the manuscripts collections filed under the accession number. The violin instruction book is among the rare books.

Related materials:

Photocopies of Howe's books are found in the general collection and accessed through PALS. Sheet music published by Howe can be found through an Inmagic search of the sheet music database. Instrumental instruction books and collections of small ensemble music can be found through an Inmagic search of the rarebooks database using author, title, and publisher fields.

dmj 9/96