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Francis Hopkinson collections

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  • Francis Hopkinson, Harpsichord [manuscript] (Philadelphia, ca. 1760), Ms. Codex 14, p. 71
    Francis Hopkinson, Harpsichord [manuscript] (Philadelphia, ca. 1760), Ms. Codex 14, p. 71
  • Engraving of Francis Hopkinson, ca. 1862
    Engraving of Francis Hopkinson, ca. 1862 (Misc Mss Box 9 Folder 38)

The Francis Hopkinson Collection includes Hopkinson's personal collection of music, along with manuscript music and transcriptions. Complementing these are other printed and manuscript materials by or relating to Hopkinson. These materials provides important sources for the study of early American music, the early history of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, and colonial and early federal American culture.

  • Collection overview



    Information for researchers

  • Francis Hopkinson, Harpsichord [manuscript] (Philadelphia, ca. 1760), Ms. Codex 14, p. 71
    Francis Hopkinson, Harpsichord [manuscript] (Philadelphia, ca. 1760), Ms. Codex 14, p. 71

About Francis Hopkinson


Born in Philadelphia in 1737, Hopkinson was enrolled at the newly formed Academy of Philadelphia in 1751 and was a graduate of the first class at the College of Philadelphia, in 1757. Hopkinson was an active participant in the cultural life of Philadelphia during the 1750s, and some of the dramatic prologues and other pieces he wrote are recorded in the Pennsylvania Gazette. Hopkinson went on to study law and worked as an attorney and customs collector in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress from New Jersey and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hopkinson continued in active public life after the Revolution, writing essays and serving as treasurer of the American Philosophical Society and trustee of the new Episcopal Academy. Hopkinson died in 1791.

Hopkinson's literary productions include essays, satirical tales, and orations. His musical output is wide-ranging: from to ballads, songs, works for harpsichord, sacred songs, and an oratorio. And he also made extensive collections of contemporary music from England and from the European continent. 

Collection overview and information for researchers

Materials available for study include manuscript and printed music by or owned by Hopkinson; letters and other manuscript documents; and printed sources by Hopkinson. These are located in several collections.

The Hopkinson Collection of Music

In her 1968 thesis on and catalog of Hopkinson's music, Caroline Richards identifies and describes four manuscript volumes containing music composed by Hopkinson. Three of these are in the Hopkinson holdings in the Penn Libraries

The first manuscript, from ca. 1759, is at the Library of Congress, and the Library of Congress holds another manuscript volume dated to the 1780s (see below for links).

Thje Hopkinson Collection of Music consists of fifteen bound volumes containing both printed and manuscript music collected by Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791), Joseph Hopkinson (1770-1842), and Oliver Hopkinson, (1812-1905). Included in this set are copies of printed music printed mainly in London. The Hopkinson Collection was acquired for the library by Otto Albrecht, whose papers are also in the Kislak Center.

Additional Hopkinson music items include General Washington's March and four scores by Hopkinson owned and perhaps performed by Marian Anderson.

Other Hopkinson manuscript material

Printed material by Hopkinson

The collection also includes printed writings and essays by the prolific Hopkinson.

Hopkinson published a number of essays and literary works in his own lifetime. One example is A Pretty Story written in the Year 2774 (Philadelphia 1774), an allegory of the relations between Great Britain and the Colonies; another is An Ode for the 4th of July 1788, a celebratory piece printed as a broadside (Penn's copy was owned by Benjamin Franklin). A recent addition to the Hopkinson holdings is a copy of Hopkinson's poem Science, printed in 1762 and dedicated to James Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and the trustees of the College and Academy of Philadelphia (gift of Rodger Krouse, 2012).

Hopkinson forgeries

Several groups of manuscripts attributed to Hopkinson, but later revealed to be forgeries, have circulated in the 20th and 21st centuries. In 2002, materials attributed to Hopkinson were offered at auction but later withdrawn. The Kislak Center holds some of these materials on deposit along with related documentation on the forgeries. The forgeries have been described and documented: see Anderson et al., "Forgery in the Music Library" (2004), full citation below.


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