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Primary Sources: Literature, Art and Music


Visual Arts

The Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C. holds collections of personal papers relating to American artists; records of galleries, museums, and art organizations; videos and interviews from the Archives’oral history project.


Autograph / Holograph the composer's own manuscript

Copies handwritten by a relative, student, colleague, or professional copyist; or, in the case of medieval works, by monastic scribes

First edition typically published in consultation with the composer

Early editions printed during the composer's lifetime; sometimes edited by a relative, student, or other person close to the composer, after the composer's death

Scholarly, or critical, editions edited by a scholar or performer known for his/her knowledge / interpretation of the composer's music. These attempt to establish a master text that comes as close as possible to the composer's ultimate intentions for the piece, and record the differences in the primary sources. Some are published as "collected editions," see below.

Collected editions of the composer's complete works. More recent sets are published in scholarly or critical edition (see above).


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