Sheet music

USA KENTUCKY : Kentucky State Song
State Song of Kentucky
My Old Kentucky Home

  • Author: Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)
  • Composer: Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)
  • Adopted: March 19 1928
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  • Further details: STEPHEN FOSTER (1826-1864) composed this song probably in 1852, and it was published in January 1853. There are several legends that connect the piece to Federal Hill, the summer home of Judge John Rowan in Bardstown, Kentucky, but there is no documentary evidence from the period to prove that Foster had much connection with the place. Judge Rowan, a one time US Senator from Kentucky, was a cousin of Stephen Foster's father and well known to the Foster family. Stephen probably visited Federal Hill in the 1840's, but it is most unlikely that he composed "My Old Kentucky Home" there or that he even had the house in mind when he composed it.

    Foster's manuscript workbook reveals that the original title of the poem was "Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night" and that the text varied from that of the final published version. Each verse originally ended with the line "Den poor Uncle Tom, good night." Foster was perhaps inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe's recently published 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' (1851) or was attempting to capitalize on the book's new fame. In any case, legends die hard, and Federal Hill is still secure in Foster lore and is a museum and tourist attraction. Kentucky took the song as its own long ago and finally proclaimed it the official state song on March 19 1928.