"America, I Love You": Progressives, Preparedness, and Profit

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


This is a story about a popular song: “America, I Love You,” with words by Edgar Leslie and music by Archie Gottler, published in 1915 by Kalmar and Puck. But it’s also about a moment in history. And it’s about memory: memory of that moment, memory of that song. Popular songs do that. We remember them—that’s why they’re popular—and, with them, we remember their moments. Popular songs—by their very definition experienced by thousands, even millions of people—are one of the best ways we have to reach a collective understanding now about the collective understanding back then.. This is also a case study of the music industry in 1915. A technological revolution was underway, in which recordings would eventually replace piano rolls and sheet music. The industry served three masters: professional entertainers, amateurs at home, and record companies. As a commercial song negotiated its way among different constituents and different media, its function could change, reflecting and influencing the historical moment.
Period6 Apr 2016
Held atUniversity of Chicago


  • World War I
  • popular music
  • Archie Gottler
  • sheet music
  • publishing