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Pitt's Historic Impact

Pitt's Memorial to a Beautiful Dreamer


America's first professional songwriter, Pittsburgh-born Stephen Collins Foster crafted songs—including “Beautiful Dreamer" and “My Old Kentucky Home"—that are loved around the world.

Born in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh on July 4, 1826, Foster wrote about life in mid-19th century America. Members of Pittsburgh's Tuesday Musical Club came up with the idea of a building on Pitt’s campus dedicated to Foster and his music; it was completed in 1937.

Today, the building—the Stephen Foster Memorial—houses Foster memorabilia, including his manuscripts, personal letters and personal sketchbook, in which he jotted down early drafts of many of his most popular compositions, including some never published. The archives, donated by Indianapolis pharmaceutical giant Josiah Kirby Lilly, also contain the small change purse Foster had in his possession when he died in 1864. Pitt is celebrating the Foster Memorial's 75th anniversary in 2012.