Did you ever sing along?

Eileen My Own - song slide

'Eileen My Own’ song slide (1906 NFSA 783025). Lyrics and music George J Green (dates of birth and death not known). Publisher M Witmark and Sons. Manufacturer Van Allin.

We are putting together a small exhibition of reproductions from the illustrated song slide collection. Illustrated songs are glass magic lantern slides and were around in the first three decades of the 20th century. They featured photographic, painted or drawn images which were projected onto a screen in sequence to create a narrative. The slides accompanied a singer who invited the audience to join in during the chorus. These community singalongs took place in halls, theatres and cinemas and some were regularly broadcast on radio.

Song slides are very fragile and few complete sets remain – at least in institutional online catalogues. The NFSA has some partial sets with either a tantalising title or chorus to provide clues to the whole song. Here are some images of songs we are trying to learn more about.

We are interested in any information you may have about the songs.

'Eileen My Own' song slide (1906 NFSA 783025)

'Eileen My Own’ song slide (1906 NFSA 783025). Lyrics and music George J Green (dates of birth and death not known). Publisher M Witmark and Sons. Manufacturer Van Allin.

This song 'Eileen My Own’ (1906, NFSA 783025) was written and composed by George J Green (dates of birth and death not known). The slides were published by American company M Witmark and Sons and manufactured by Van Allin. We have not been able to find out anything about this song apart from locating a copy of the sheet music in the British Library.

'Ten Little Miles From Town' song slide ( 1928, NFSA 783776

'Ten Little Miles From Town’ song slide ( 1928, NFSA 783776). Lyrics Gus Kahn (1886–1941). Music Elmer Schoebel (1896–1970). Manufacturer National Studios Inc., New York.

We are also interested in memories or stories people might have about their experiences of community sing alongs during the 1940s and 1950s or even more recent community singalong experiences. Our recorded sound curator, Matthew Davies, remembers his mother talking about the songs they sang while a film was being repaired during a screening.

If you have any information about these song slides, please contact the Public Programs team.

You can see the exhibition in the foyer of the NFSA building in Canberra from early August. Check out our slides on Flickr.



Just hearing some nostalgia music played on local radio this afternoon reminded me of going along with my grandmother & great aunt to Community Singing in a hall in Atherton Rd Oakleigh Victoria in the early/mid 1940s. I was only very young, probably aged 3 to 6 years or similar so the memories are very vague. A very different world to the one we live in today. I guess that was a way of keeping people's spirits up in those depressing times.

Bev Pascoe on 29 Mar 2012, 4:05 p.m.

Thanks for your comment Bev. I hope you'll be pleased to know that here at the NFSA we're keeping the sing-along alive with our touring Cooee Cabaret family cabaret show: http://nfsa.gov.au/collection/sound/s....

Also, if you'd like some more nostalgia, our australianscreen website has many memory-evoking newsreels and other material from that era: http://aso.gov.au/titles/decades/1940s/ (or any other era you choose).

There is also an excerpt from a documentary about The White Rose Orchestra, formed in 1936, who toured rural areas for more than 40 years. http://aso.gov.au/titles/tv/white-rose/.

Happy viewing!

Beth Taylor, NFSA on 30 Mar 2012, 12:55 p.m.

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