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My Black Bess
Additional title: When the silver moon is beaming, thro' the tree tops softly gleaming. [first line of song]
Additional title: You're the sun shine of old Virginia my black Bess. [first line of chorus]
Sterling, Andrew B (b. 1874) (Lyricist)
Von Tilzer, Harry (1872-1946) (Composer)
Forrester, Fannie (19th cent.) (Singer)
DeBonne, Theo. (Singer)

American popular songs.

Sheet music, 1899

Dates / Origin
Date Issued: 1899
Copyright Date: 1899
Copyright Date: 1898
Place: New York
Publisher: E.T. Paull Music Co.
Library locations
Music Division
African Americans
Love songs
Sexual attraction
Sheet music
Content: Summary: The narrator expresses his love for Bess, asking will she kiss him.
Content: On cover: Sung with great success by Fannie, Forrester and DeBonne, Theo.
Content: Copyright date on cover: 1898; copyright date on first page of music: 1899.
Content: Cover design includes drawing of a hand holding an enveloped addressed to My black Bess.
Statement of responsibility: words by Andrew B. Sterling ; music by Harry Von Tilzer.
Physical Description
Extent: 6 p. ; 34 cm.
Type of Resource
Notated music
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 2c4e1990-c595-012f-c130-58d385a7bc34
Rights Statement
We believe that this item has no known US copyright restrictions. The item may be subject to rights of privacy, rights of publicity and other restrictions. Though not required, if you want to credit us as the source, please use the following statement, "From The New York Public Library," and provide a link back to the item on our Digital Collections site. Doing so helps us track how our collection is used and helps justify freely releasing even more content in the future.

Item timeline of events

  • 1899: Copyright date (Approximate)
  • 1899: Issued
  • 2016: Digitized
  • 2016: Found by you!
  • 2017

MLA Format

Music Division, The New York Public Library. "My Black Bess" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1899.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Music Division, The New York Public Library. "My Black Bess" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 8, 2016.

APA Format

Music Division, The New York Public Library. (1899). My Black Bess Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (notated music) My Black Bess, (1899) }} |author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=December 8, 2016 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lennox, and Tilden Foundation}}</ref>

My Black Bess