Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Janet Coryell

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Chiarappa

Third Advisor

Dr. Linda Borish

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Musicologists, folklorists and historians agree that the music of the Civil War was a significant means of communication for Americans in all regions and classes. The popularity of music soared during the war, with songs about the war holding center stage. This study moves beyond the acknowledgment that these songs were an important means of communication to seeing what messages were being communicated by both professional and amateur songwriters. These lyricists criticized and praised behaviors, often pointing out the social acceptance or exclusion that could result from individual behaviors, made assumptions about and passed moral judgements on female, male, and kinship roles and defined stereotypical views of the North and the South. Songwriters, editors and publishers also openly stated the hope that these songs might reinforce or change the beliefs of those who heard or read them. Thus this study explores not only the underlying assumptions that songwriters held about America and Americans, but also what beliefs, values, and behaviors they hoped to instill.