Stephen C. Foster ~ Letter to E. P. Christy
(May 25, 1852)
“As I once intimated to you, I had the intention of omitting my name* on my Ethiopian songs, owing to the prejudice against them by some, which might injure my reputation as a writer of another style of music, but I find that by my efforts I have done a great deal to build up a taste for the Ethiopian songs among refined people by making the words suitable to their taste, instead of the trashy and really offensive words which belong to some songs of that order. Therefore I have concluded to reinstate my name on my songs and to pursue the Ethiopian business without fear or shame and lend all my energies to making the business live, at the same time that I will wish to establish my name as the best Ethiopian songwriter.
“But I am not encouraged in undertaking this so long as “Old folks at home” stares me in the face with another’s name on it. As it was at my own solicitation that you allowed your name to be placed on the song, I hope that the above reasons will be sufficient explanation for my desire to place my own name on it as author and composer, while at the same time I wish to leave the name of your band on the title page. This is a little matter of pride in myself which it will certainly be to your interest to encourage….
“Very respectfully yours, Stephen C. Foster”
SOURCE: Foster Hall Collection, Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh
*Selling the credit to a composition was not an uncommon practice in Foster’s time; note the composer credit on this edition of Foster’s song Old Folks at Home: