Anna Johnson, Catherine (Katherine, Kate) Johnson

The large collection of music owned by Anna and Catherine Johnson includes two of their own binder’s volumes, six boxes of individual pieces (some of which were formerly bound and have been disbound either deliberately or over time), a copy of Bertini’s piano tutor, and a binder’s volume that belonged to Aggie Stockton. (The only Aggie Stockton I have located in Natchez in 1850 was a white woman, and whether she owned the binder’s volume now in the Johnson collection has yet to be determined.)

This collection includes music purchased in New Orleans and Natchez. William Johnson and Anna’s aunt Lavinia Miller tried out pianos to purchase at Mr. Myer’s music store in 1850, and some of the girls’ music formerly belonged to Lavinia. These facts support Black musicians’ participation in the music economy, as do others outlined in the sources below.

The music typifies that sold in the area: dance music, songs, transcriptions from popular operas. Much of it has markings, such as fingerings, and some pages have been carefully sewn together with thread or pinned.

The name H.K. Bell also appears on several pages.

Briefly contextualized in a blog post on my site, I describe the Johnson collection in “Binder’s Volumes as Musical Commonplace Books,” Music and the Southern Belle, and Unbinding Gentility. A more substantial investigation of the Johnsons and their music is forthcoming.

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