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Ragtime Sources

by Ted Tjaden

Set out below is information on sources of ragtime music, organized into the following categories:

1)   Ragtime books and magazines
2)   Print sources of ragtime sheet music
3)   Online sources of ragtime sheet music
4)   Essential recordings of ragtime music
5)   Ragtime organizations
6)   Major ragtime websites

1) Ragtime books and magazines

The following books on ragtime music and the ragtime era represent some of the more important titles in the ragtime literature:

  • Badger, Reid. A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995 [Internet Archive version].
  • Barile, Mary et al. Merit not Sympathy Wins: The Life and Times of Blind Boone. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2012.
  • Batterson, Jack. Blind Boone: Missouriís Ragtime Pioneer. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1998 [Internet Archive version].
  • Berlin, Edward. Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1980.
  • Berlin, Edward. Reflections and Research on Ragtime. Brooklyn, NY: Institute for Studies in American Music, Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, 1987.
  • Binkowski, Carol. Joseph F Lamb: A Passion for Ragtime. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012 [book details].
  • Blesh, Rudi & Harriet Grossman Janis. They All Played Ragtime. 4th ed. New York: Oak Publications, 1966. Citations on this website to this book are to the 4th edition. The book was first published in 1950 by Alfred A Knopf [Internet Archive version].
  • Curtis, Susan. Dancing to a Black Man's Tune. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1994 [Internet Archive version].
  • DeVeaux, Scott & William Howland Kenney, eds. The Music of James Scott. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.
  • Frew, Timothy. Scott Joplin and the Age of Ragtime. New York: Friedman Fairfax, 1996.
  • Gilbert, David. The Product of Our Souls Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015 [book details].
  • Gilmore, John. Swinging in Paradise: The Story of Jazz in Montreal. Montreal, QC: Vehicule Press, 1988.
  • Hasse, John, ed. Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music. New York: Schirmer Books, 1985 [Internet Archive version].
  • Jasen, David. Ragtime: An Encyclopedia, Discography, and Sheetography. New York: Routledge, 2007.
  • Jasen, David & Gene Jones. Black Bottom Stomp: Eight Masters of Ragtime and Early Jazz. New York: Routledge, 2001 [Internet Archive version].
  • Jasen, David & Gene Jones. Spreadin' Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1890-1920. New York: Schirmer Books, 1998 [Internet Archive version].
  • Jasen, David & Gene Jones. That American Rag: The Story of Ragtime from Coast to Coast. New York: Schirmer Books, 2000 [Internet Archive version].
  • Jasen, David & Trebor Jay Tichenor. Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History. New York: Dover Publications, 1978 [Internet Archive version].
  • Jennings Haydon, Geoffrey & Richard Lawn. A Study of the Exchange of Influences between the Music of Early Twentieth Century Parisian Composers and Ragtime, Blues, and Early Jazz. Thesis/dissertation: University of Texas at Austin, 1992.
  • Karp, Larry. Brun Campbell: The Original Ragtime Kid. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2016. [book details]
  • Lerma, Dominique-Renede & Vivian Flagg McBrier. The Collected Piano Works of R Nathaniel Dett. Evanston, IL: Summy-Birchard, 1973.
  • McBrier, Vivian Flagg. R Nathaniel Dett: His Life and Works (1882-1943). Washington, DC: The Associated Publishers, 1977.
  • Milan, Jon. Detroit: Ragtime and the Jazz Age. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.
  • Morath, Max et al. The Road to Ragtime. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company Publishing, 1999.
  • Ping-Robbins, Nancy. Scott Joplin: A Guide to Research. New York: Garland Pub., 1998.
  • Rose, Al. Eubie Blake. New York: Schirmer Books, 1979.
  • Schafer, William & Johannes Riedel. The Art of Ragtime: Form and Meaning of an Original Black American Art. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1973 [Internet Archive version].
  • Stewart, Philip. The Music of Charles Leslie Johnson: A Collector's Journey. Addison, TX: Aquila Media Productions, 2009. 
  • Sutton, A. Cakewalks, Rags and Novelties: The International Ragtime Discography (1894-1930). Denver, CO: Mainspring Press, 2003.
  • Swanson, Adam. Robert R Darch's Golden Reunion in Ragtime: The First Complete Study of a One-of-a-kind Recording Session. Thesis/dissertation: MM Peabody Conservatory, 2016.
  • Tracy, Steven. Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature. Tuscaloosa: Univ of Alabama Press, 2015 [book details].
  • Williamson, Michael Noel. 'Ragging the Classics': An Examination of Ragtime in Piano Compositions by Claude Debussy, Percy Grainger and Igor Stravinsky. Thesis/dissertation: Parkville, University of Melbourne, 2013.
The Silent Film Sound & Music Archive has digitized most of the issues of the following ragtime magazines:
In addition, the New York Public Library has digitized the following ragtime magazine:
The Hathi Trust has also digitized a few issues of the following ragtime magazine:
The Etude Magazine (1883-1957) is now online here from Gardner Webb University.

For a current periodical discussing jazz, swing, and ragtime, see:

2) Print sources of ragtime sheet music

An excellent compilation of published sheet music is available online in a downloadable Excel spreadsheet through the efforts of Michael Mathew and a number of volunteer contributors. See:

The foregoing Ragtime Compendium is an excellent resource to verify the existence of a ragtime composition or find out is publisher and whether the piece has been published.

Michael Chisolm has started at project at Ragtime Sheet Music that hopes to digitize a large collection of otherwise hard to source ragtime sheet music. Pending that work being completed, he has provided an extensive list of "found" ragtime sheet music compositions that are projected to be digitized and put online.

In addition, a number of libraries, primarily American, have large collections of ragtime-era sheet music that have not been digitized (for online, digitized sheet music, see below). The following libraries have large sheet music collections (in print):

3) Online sources of ragtime sheet music

There are a number of excellent online sources of digitized sheet music collections that include large selections of rags and ragtime era music.

The most comprehensive starting point would be the Sheet Music Consortium at UCLA:

The foregoing site is a clearing house for the following individual sites:

In addition to the foregoing sites, there are a number of other digital collections that contain sheet music from the ragtime era that have not yet been harvested by the Sheet Music Consortium or are otherwise useful as individual links:

The following collections also contain (free) digitized sheet music, including some ragtime, but to a much lesser extent (set out below in alphabetical order):

For a Canadian online seller of sheet music with an interesting collection of ragtime era music for sale, see Tredwell's Music.

Finally, you can usually find extensive sheet music for sale on eBay, which can be another way of obtaining hard to find ragtime sheet music:
In addition to the foregoing sources of online ragtime sheet music, readers may be interested in (free) online sheet music to the Brazilian tango music for the piano by Ernesto Nazareth and Chiquinha Gonzaga (my goal is to write a separate essay on this website on Brazlian piano tango music and its interplay with American ragtime music):

4) Essential recordings of ragtime music

On each of the separate essays I have written on ragtime music (see the table of contents to these essays) I have included recommended commercial recordings of ragtime related to each essay. In addition, there are a number of free MIDI recordings of ragtime music on the Internet, including the following sites:
Additional ragtime MIDI links can be found here.

Two other sources of ragtime music include the following:
  • Stingray Music: Ragtime Memories: In Canada, at least, many cable TV subscriptions may include a subscription to Stingray Music on your TV which also includes the ability to listen on a mobile device where one can "filter" music by genre, with one of those filters on your mobile device being ragtime music.

5) Ragtime organizations

6) Major ragtime websites

Set out below is a select list of ragtime-related websites by ragtime performers or publishers:


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This site created by Ted Tjaden. Page last updated: January 2024.