Sounding Childhood

SOUNDING CHILDHOOD by Alisa Clapp-Itnyre


This is an academic website, part of Sounding Victorian (est. Dr. Phyllis Weliver, 2016), stemming from my research and publications focused on Victorian children's music.  Children were just as musical as adults during  the 19th century, but little has been done to explore this phenomenon.  Neither was there the capability or interest in recording nineteenth-century children's songs or their singing.

This website attempts to fill this musical void.  In collaboration with Dr. Jessica Raposo, Director of Music, Indiana University East, I have organized biannual, local children's choir-camps to learn and record popular 19th-century songs for children (much of it specifically from the Victorian era, 1837-1901) so that we can hear what children over 100 years ago were singing.  This music for Victorian children was quite diverse. Some of it was used for play (taught by adults, adapted by children, like nursery rhymes), much of it was taught in church and school (hymns and school songs), and some songs were even written and used politically, like those for the animal-rights movement (Bands of Mercy songs).

The site is organized into three parts based on those musical genres we have recorded to date: children's hymns (recorded in 2015), children's school and play songs (recorded in 2017), and Bands of Mercy songs (recorded in 2019).  Click the title links below which will take you to information, scores, pictures, & musical recordings within each of these genres.  The Menu (upper left) will navigate to them as well and the lists of songs appear to the right.  I thank Beth South, Assistant Librarian, Indiana University East, for rebuilding this scalar-based website in summer 2023.

I hope you will enjoy this re-created musical experience, which will allow you to enjoy the sounds of childhood from another era.  As you see by the pictures, even our contemporary children relish re-visiting the Victorian past: feigning photographic seriousness, dressing in period clothes, and of course singing these engaging songs! 

Dr. Alisa Clapp-Itnyre
Professor of English
Indiana University East
Richmond, IN 


Part 1: Hymns & Religious Songs  (Click here)

Part 2: Songs for School & Play (Click here)

Part 3: Political Songs (Bands of Mercy Songs)  (Click here)

Part 4: Christmas Carols 
(Click here)

All images and recordings are made with children's and parents' permission; see individual pages for complete listing of names.
All material used from this website must credit me, the author, and name the site.  For more, see Copyright details.


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