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Hamilton Forrest Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Forrest

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, music and lyrics (including scripts with stage directions), newspaper clippings, photographs, and programs pertaining to the American composer Hamilton Forrest.

One of his most notable arrangements, which is included in these papers, was "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Published in 1951 by Mills Music Inc., this piece was dedicated to celebrated singer Marian Anderson and attributed to Marion Kerby's "Original Collection of Negro Exaltations." The papers also include two autographed photographs of Forrest.


  • Creation: 1940-1951



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Hamilton Forrest Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Hamilton Forrest Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Hamilton Forrest

Chicago-born composer (1901-1963) best known for his arrangement of American folk songs.

Hamilton Forrest was born in Chicago on Jan. 8, 1901. He studied music with Chicago Symphony Orchestra assistant conductor Adolf Weidig, among others, and received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music from Chicago's American Conservatory of Music in 1924. After writing a couple of operas in the 1920s, most notably a version of Dumas's Camille for opera star Mary Garden, Forrest studied in Europe, then returned to Chicago to produce "Wings of the Century," a musical salute for Chicago's Century of Progress fair. Afterwards, he traveled with Jean Thomas and Marion Kerby to collect folk music from rural Kentucky. A life-long traveler, he lived in England and traveled throughout Europe, making sporadic visits back to Chicago. Forrest died of a heart attack in a London clinic on Dec. 26, 1963.


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)


Correspondence, music and lyrics (including scripts with stage directions), newspaper clippings, photographs, and programs pertaining to Hamilton Forrest, a 20th-century composer known for his arrangements of American folksongs, most notably “He’s Got the Whole Word in His Hands.”


Arranged by type of material.

Collection Stack Location

1 37 1


Gift, Martha Stampel, 2014.

Processed by

Elizabeth McKinley, 2014.

Inventory of the Hamilton Forrest Papers, 1940-1951
Elizabeth McKinleye
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States