LA Tech Alumni donates antique music collection to university


RUSTON, LA. (KTVE/KARD)– Davis Smart Miller, a Louisiana Tech alumna, has a love for music and it’s history. She has spent the majority of her life collecting antique music sheets.

“She had family members that would see things at auctions and buy them for her, she collected a lot of it as a child while learning how to play the piano, and she’s moving to a new house and she wanted to make sure that her collection was going to a good place,” Michael Austin, LA Tech Associate Professor of Music, said.

So she chose to donate her collection to her alma mater. Nolan Eller, LA Tech Archivist, said the collection has more than 1,300 items including sheet music, piano books, and trade magazines. The sheets also feature a wide range of genres including film music, jazz and blues, and even war songs.

“They range and date from the around the 1860s to the 1980s,” Eller said. “Some of the earliest materials, I believe, dates back to 1866.”

Austin said the collection will be beneficial to students in the school of music, because they’ll be able to better understand the history of music before technology.

“Rather than having to look at pictures on the internet of old timey sheet music, they can come to the archives at Louisiana Tech University and see, hold in their hands music that was printed 150 years ago almost,” Austin said.

Eller said some of the sheets include patriotic pieces. He said the sheets not only show the history of music, but also gives us a glimpse of how musicians used music to rally crowds at times of war.

“Sheet music is just a really great window into the past and a great window into the cultural impact and the cultural importance of music on our society and on people’s lives,” Eller said.

He said Miller’s collection is going to bring new interests to the archives collection at Louisiana Tech.

“And Ms. Miller, who put her heart and soul in this collection, it’s important that it’s passed on generations after generations after generations for Tech students to be able to utilize and hold this material and use it in their research and also professors to use it in their research and also to use it in their classwork,” Eller said.

The collection will be available in the Prescott Memorial Library on LA Tech’s campus for the public to see. Eller said the university plans to digitize the pieces for others outside of LA Tech to use as well.

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