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Henry Worrall Collection

Library Collection No. 23




Musician, composer, artist; of Liverpool, England, UK; Cincinnati, OH and Topeka, KS, USA

Sheet music, manuscript music, music instruction book, and miscellaneous clippings and programs from Henry Worrall's personal library. The collection includes published and unpublished copies of original compositions and arrangements for solo acoustic guitar.




1 box (0.4 ft.)



Henry Worrall, 1825-1902


Henry Worrall Collection


Library Collection no. 23
Shelf location 39-13-08-04


This finding aid describes materials held by the Kansas State Historical Society. Materials may be used in the Research Room in the society’s Center for Historical Research during regular research hours. Support for telephone, mail, and online reference and research is limited.


Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka)


Henry Worrall’s career as an artist and illustrator of western scenes is well known. Historian Robert Taft, in particular, has documented Worrall’s life as a visual artist and examined his better known artistic works [see" The Pictorial Record of the Old West. III. Henry Worrall," Kansas Historical Quarterly, August, 1946 (vol. 14 no. 3), pages 241-263]. Worrall’s career as a musician and composer has received less attention.

Henry Worrall was born in Liverpool, England, on April 14, 1825. Little is known of his childhood and adolescence except that he moved to the United States with some members of his family in 1835. He is reported to have lived as a youth in Buffalo, New York, before settling in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he apprenticed to a glasscutter.

While in Cincinnati, Worrall achieved considerable proficiency on the guitar and began composing popular music for that instrument. For a time, he worked as a music and guitar instructor at a local college, probably the Ohio Female College in Pleasant Hill near Cincinnati, where he acquired the appellation “Professor.” Worrall and one of his students, Mary Elizabeth Harvey, frequently played guitar duets at public performances and would eventually marry.

During his residence in Ohio, Worrall published his most celebrated compositions and arrangements for solo guitar. His “Violet Waltz” appeared as early as 1853 through publisher W.C. Peters & Sons of Cincinnati. Worrall’s Guitar School, or The Eclectic Guitar Instructor, appeared in 1856 through the same publisher, with additional printings in 1862 by A.C. & J.L. Peters of Cincinnati and 1884 by the Oliver Ditson Company of Boston.

Worrall’s most celebrated piece for solo guitar, “Sebastopol,” appeared as early as 1856 to commemorate the siege of Sebastopol [now Sevastopol], Russia, in 1855 by the British and French during the Crimean War (1853-1856). He intended the piece, a military march, to imitate a military bugle and band, and sold it to W.C. Peters & Sons for a small sum. “Sebastopol” became one of the most popular pieces for solo guitar in nineteenth century America, was scored for many instruments, including piano, banjo, and brass band, and reportedly made a fortune for the publisher. Worrall gained additional fame for an arrangement of the popular “Spanish Fandango” which appeared as early as 1866.

In 1868, Henry and his family moved to the fledgling western community of Topeka, Kansas, which state only recently organized in 1861. Concerns about his health may have prompted the move West. Here he quickly became noted as an artist, illustrator, and decorator (see Robert Taft’s article cited above for more information on this aspect of Worrall’s career).

While Worrall may have focused more of his attention on illustration after moving West, extant sources also reveal a very active musical life in Kansas. Newspaper accounts of Worrall’s music performances appeared frequently in local papers. Photographs taken during his residence in Kansas show him posing with his guitar and playing music with his wife and others, including Joseph Tosso the celebrated violinist. Worrall likely accepted students for musical instruction. Further, by 1884, Worrall had acquired copyright to Worrall’s Guitar School, his popular instructor, prior to its republication by the Oliver Ditson Company. Similarly, in 1896, E.B. Guild, music publisher of Topeka, issued “Carmencita. Series of Mexican Dances Guitar Solo” by Henry Worrall.

In 1901, Henry Worrall suffered a stroke from which he only partially recovered. On June 20, 1902, Worrall died at his home in Topeka, leaving a wife, Mary Elizabeth Harvey Worrall, and three children, Harvey Worrall, Charles Worrall, and Mamie Worrall. He was 75 years old.

The success of Worrall’s music did not stop with his death. Interest in the refined parlor music of the nineteenth century waned considerably with the introduction of Ragtime (1890s) and Jazz (1920s). In areas of the rural South, however, white and black musicians continued to play the parlor music and adapt it to their own regional styles. Particularly after the widespread popularity of the steel string guitar by the 1920s, southern musicians borrowed tunings, picking styles, and chord changes from the parlor pieces for use in the development of nascent country and blues music.

While Henry Worrall was not the only parlor guitarist to influence southern rural musicians in the early twentieth century, he was arguably the most influential. His importance derives largely from the simple and popular character of his compositions and arrangements, and his near exclusive use of open tunings. Worrall favored tuning the guitar to an open chord, such as D A D F# A D (D Major) and D G D G B D (G Major), rather than the accepted standard tuning E A D G B E, already in common use. Among blues guitarists of the 1920s, the titles of Worrall’s most popular tunes became synonymous with favored open tunings, “Vastopol” (Sebastopol) for D Major and “Spanish” (Spanish Fandango) for G Major.

By the 1960s, a renewed interest in early country and blues music led to discoveries of forgotten songs and performers. Solo fingerstyle guitarists Mississippi John Hurt and Sam McGee became popular icons of the folk music revival and profoundly influenced a new generation of musicians. Both Hurt and McGee continued to play versions of Henry Worrall’s guitar instrumentals in their live and recorded performances, prompting new interest in Worrall’s music. Present interest in Worrall’s music is largely confined to performers, teachers, students, and aficionados of fingerstyle guitar and American roots music, and historians of country and blues musical idioms.

Scope And Content

This collection includes fives series: sheet music, manuscript music, music instruction,, clippings and programs., and related items.

Series 1: The sheet music collection includes nineteen publications with copyright dates between 1853-1896. Most of the sheets are in large formats, about 35x27cm. Two publications include covers only. Some duplicate publications are included. All of the publications include music composed, arranged, or dedicated to Henry Worrall, except for one Carusi arrangement. All of the music is instrumental and scored for solo guitar. One collection dedicated to Henry Worrall is scored for two guitars, but includes the cover only. The sheet music is arranged chronologically by year, thereunder alphabetically by title. See "Description of Subordinate Components," below, for a list of individual titles.

Six music publishers from four cities are represented by the publications. Worrall’s first publisher, W. C. Peters, and his sons published most of Worrall’s musical works. These include, from Cincinnati, OH: W. C. Peters & Sons, A. C. & J. L. Peters, and A. C. Peters & Bros.; from St. Louis, MO: J. L. Peters & Bro.; from Boston, MA: Oliver Ditson &Co.; and from Topeka, KS: E. B. Guild.

A few of the publications include pencil notations that alter the text and provide directions for performance. The author of these notations is unknown, but the considerable liberties taken with the musical scores suggest they are Henry Worrall’s.

Series 2: Five original manuscript editions of Henry Worrall’s music are included in this collection. Of these, the most significant is the introduction and finale to “Sebastopol,” Worrall’s most celebrated and influential guitar instrumental. Most of the manuscripts are written in pencil on 35x27cm sheets; at least two sheets are written in ink. The manuscripts are not dated or signed, but some include Worrall’s personal stamp: “H. Worrall, 807 Kansas, Ave., Topeka, Kas.” All of the manuscripts include titles except for one piece that is untitled. The manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by title. See "Description of Subordinate Components," below, for a list of individual titles.

Series 3: One copy of Worrall’s popular guitar instructor, Worrall’s Guitar School, or The Eclectic Guitar Instructor, is included in this collection. Oliver Ditson & Company reissued this edition and it bares a copyright date of 1884 by Henry Worrall.

Series 4: Two loose-leaf sheets with numerous clippings attached are also included. Dates vary widely or are nonexistent. The clippings include advertisements and programs of public performances by Henry Worrall and others (1853-1959), concert reviews (not dated, but pre-1868), and obituaries (1902). 

Series 5: Related items are items added to the collection from other donors or through purchases. These items did not come from the Worrall family and were not part of the original collection donated in 1968 so they are included here as a related but artificial collection. This series includes a first edition of Worrall's Eclectic Guitar Instructor published by W. C. Peters & Sons in Cincinnati in 1856. 

Contents List

Detailed Description

Archival records are typically organized by series, a group of records that has a common element or function and a distinct organizational structure of its own, for example Correspondence Files, arranged chronologically, or Registers of Military Enlistments, arranged by regiment.

Series 1. Sheet Music, 1853-1896. (19 items)





LC 23.1: 1

Celebrated Violet Waltz varied for the Guitar

Cincinnati, OH: W.C. Peters & Sons


LC 23.1: 2

Celebrated Violet Waltz varied for the Guitar [duplicate]

Cincinnati, OH: W.C. Peters & Sons


LC 23.1: 3

Sixty Melodies for Two Guitars, by J. Kuffner [Dedicated to Henry Worrall]

Cincinnati, OH: W.C. Peters & Sons

c. 1850s

LC 23.1: 4

Worrall’s Select Guitar Melodies

Cincinnati, OH: W.C. Peters & Sons


LC 23.1: 5

Floating Gems Composed and Arranged for the Guitar

Cincinnati, OH: A.C. Peters & Bros


LC 23.1: 6

Sebastopol. A Descriptive Fantaisie for the Guitar

Cincinnati, OH: A.C. Peters & J.L. Peters


LC 23.1: 7

Fantasia on Lucy Long

St. Louis, MO: J.L. Peters & Bro


LC 23.1: 8

Medley of Airs. In, Pearl Drops for the Guitar

St. Louis, MO: J.L. Peters & Bro.


LC 23.1: 9

Spanish Fandango

St. Louis, MO: J.L. Peters & Bros.


LC 23.1: 10

Storm Waltzes. In, Guitarist’s Album. A Collection of Standard Guitar Pieces

St. Louis, MO: J.L. Peters & Bros.


LC 23.1: 11

Violet Waltz. In, Le Troubadour. A Collection of Instrumental Guitar Music

Boston, MA: Oliver Ditson Co.


LC 23.1: 12

Violet Waltz. In, Pearl Drops for the Guitar

St. Louis, MO: J.L. Peters & Bro.


LC 23.1: 13

Worrall’s Celebrated Mexican Air, A Capretio for the Guitar

Boston, MA: Oliver Ditson & Co.


LC 23.1: 14

Worrall’s Select Melodies. In, Recreations for the Guitar

St. Louis, MO: J.L. Peters & Bros., 1866


LC 23.1: 15

Worrall’s Songs Without Words. In, Recreations for the Guitar

St. Louis, MO: J.L. Peters & Bro


LC 23.1: 16

I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls [arranged by Carusi]. In, Vocal Beauties for the Guitar

Topeka, KS: E.B. Guild


LC 23.1: 17

Sebastopol. Descriptive Fantaisie

Boston, MA: Oliver Ditson Co.


LC 23.1: 18

Sebastopol. Descriptive Fantaisie [duplicate]

Boston, MA: Oliver Ditson Co.


LC 23.1: 19

Carmencita. Series of Mexican Dances Guitar Solo

Topeka, KS: E.B. Guild


Series 2. Manuscript Music, [no dates]. (5 items)





LC23.2: 1


1 bifolded sheet, 35x54.5cm; 2 pages

No date

LC23.2: 2

Chimes of E

2 sheets, 33.8x26.8cm; 2 pages

No date

LC23.2: 3


0.5 sheet, 16.7x27cm - 1 sheet, 34x27cm; 1.5 pages

No date

LC23.2: 4

Untitled [Carmencita]

2 bifolded sheets, 34x53cm; 5 pages

No date

LC23.2: 5

Untitled and Jack

1 sheet, 34.2x26.8cm; 1 page

No date

Series 3. Music instruction, 1884. (1 item)

LC23.3: 1 Worrall’s Guitar School (Boston, MA: Oliver Ditson Company, 1884).

Series 4. Clippings and programs, 1853-1902. (2 items)

LC23.4: 1 Newspaper clippings and programs pasted on two sheets of paper.

Series 5. Related items (1 item) 

LC23.5: 1 Worrall's Eclectic Guitar Instructor (Cincinnati, OH: W. C. Peters and Sons, 1856)

Related Records and Collections

Related Materials

Henry Worrall papers, 1857-1906, Ms Coll. 552 One folder.
Includes ledger book with family accounts and family history, family history documents and diagram of ancestry, passport, ticket to international exhibition, funeral cards, cemetery plat, property titles, citizenship papers, illustrated publications, and correspondence.

Robert Taft collection, 1918-1955, Ms Coll. 172 One folder, box 38.
Includes copies of some Worrall illustrations and bibliographic notes on his illustrations. Biographical notes on Worrall and transcriptions of newspaper articles are also included. Correspondence with J.W. Valentine (four letters) includes discussions of Worrall’s musical activities. A complete finding aid to this collection is also available.

Photograph collection, B Worrall, Henry *1-16
Sixteen photos. Photo #13 shows Worrall posing with his guitar. Photo #15 shows Henry and Mary Worrall playing guitars.

Worrall family photograph album, 65-09-02-03
Includes many photos of Henry and Mary Worrall, their children and extended family. Includes one photo of Henry posing with his guitar identical to photo #13 in previous collection.

Separated Material

Two copies of Harvey Worrall's piano waltz "Daisy's First Ball" were removed from this collection and added to the general sheet music collection.


James, Steve. Roots and Blues Fingerstyle Guitar (San Anselmo, Calif.: String Letter Pub., 1999).

Kingman, David. American Music: A Panorama (New York: Schirmer Books, 1990).

Taft, Robert. “The Pictorial Record of the Old West. III. Henry Worrall,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, August, 1946 (vol. 14 no. 3), pages 241-263.

Titon, Jeff Todd. Early Downhome Blues: A Musical and Cultural Analysis (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1979).

Index Terms

Access Points

The terms listed below may include names, places, subjects, occupations, titles, and other words describing this collection. These terms are used in the ATLAS catalog used by the Kansas State Historical Society and affiliated libraries in Topeka, http://lib.wuacc.edu/search, as well as libraries and archives subscribing to OCLC, an international library/archives database. Searches on these words should produce a description of this collection as well as other books and collections that may be of interest. Names are subjects unless otherwise noted. Topical terms are Library of Congress subject headings unless indicated otherwise.

Personal Names

Worrall, Henry, 1825-1902
Worrall, Henry, 1825-1902 -- Manuscripts

Geographic Names

Shawnee County (Kan.) -- History
Topeka (Kan.) -- History


Guitar -- Instruction and study
Guitar music
Music -- Manuscripts
Music -- 19th Century
Musical instruments -- Studies and exercises

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions on Access


Restrictions on Use

Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The user is cautioned that the publication of the contents of this collection may be construed as constituting a violation of literary property rights. These rights derive from the principle of common law, affirmed in the copyright law of 1976 as amended, that the writer of an unpublished letter or other manuscript has the sole right to publish the contents thereof unless he or she affirmatively parts with that right; the right descends to his or her legal heirs regardless of the ownership of the physical manuscript itself. It is the responsibility of a user or his or her publisher to secure the permission of the owner of literary property rights in unpublished writing.

Custodial History

All of the materials in this collection derive from Henry Worrall's personal music collection. Some manuscripts bare a stamp that reads "H. Worrall, 807 Kansas Ave., Topeka, Kas." These materials passed to Henry's wife, Mary Elizabeth Harvey Worrall, at the time of his death in 1902.
Mary subsequently presented this material to her children. A note on several of the items reads "Presented by mama the 9 of March 1903, 715 Polk St. Topeka." The children of Henry and Mary presented the material to their children in turn. Collection donated to the Kansas State Historical Society on October 31, 1968, by Mrs. Anton W. Worrall, wife of Anton Worrall of Kansas City, MO, grandson to Henry and Mary Worrall.

Alternate Form Available


Preferred Citation

Note: Henry Worrall Collection, 1853-1902, Kansas State Historical Society, Library Collection no. 23.
Bibliography: Worrall, Henry. Henry Worrall Collection, 1853-1902, Kansas State Historical Society, Library Collection no. 23.

Acquisition Information

Gift; Mrs. Anton W. Worrall, 1968.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Michael A. Church, 2006.


No additions to this collection are expected.