Collections Carousel – Colleen: An Irish Love Song

February’s extended cold streak in Minnesota had us desperately searching the museum collections for signs of spring. With high temperatures hovering in the low teens below zero to windchills nearing minus forty, any sign was welcome. This piece of sheet music, “Colleen: An Irish Love Song,” with its hints of St. Patrick’s Day in both lyrics and graphics fit the bill and maybe brought good luck. Temperatures have recently been reaching into the 30s and there are even hints of 40 for tomorrow.

Among a collection of nearly 150 pieces of sheet music belonging to Anna Olsson Tranberg Coen (1891-1976) of Little Falls, the lyrics in the song are filled with thoughts of spring:

“Colleen, Colleen, fairest of flowers on this Isle of Green….Flowers and trees, birds

on the breeze all know your beauty and seem ill at ease – Others there be, I only see!

One little Colleen, in this world for me!”

Anna and her family lived across the street from Pine Grove Park, a fifty-five acre natural park on the west side of Little Falls. Anna and her husband, Melvin, had one child Virginia Louise. Virginia died in 1952, three years after her father’s death. The donor purchased the sheet music collection at Anna’s auction and donated them to MCHS in 2003.

“Colleen” was produced in 1903 by the Whitney-Warner Publishing Company of Detroit, Michigan, and New York, New York. The company manufactured photo postcards and other paper-based products. “Colleen” was one of thousands of pieces of music published by the company.

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