Stephen Foster Memorial Day

Stephen Foster Memorial Day is observed next on Monday, January 13th, 2025 (237 days from today).

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On January 13 every year, Stephen Foster Memorial Day is to commemorate the music of the man who composed hundreds of America's first hit songs.

Born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1826, Stephen Foster is known as America's first Composer. His catchy tunes based on the troubadour's songs are still known today.

Despite signing Foster's exclusive music contract with Firth, Pond and Company, he remained penniless when he died at the age of 37. While his songs were very popular, lack of copyright protection and alcoholism left him with nothing of value to show for his work.

In his short life, Foster wrote more than 200 songs. There are some famous compositions such as “Old Folks at Home,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Jeanie with Light Brown Hair,” “Old Black Joe” and “Beautiful Dreamer” and are still very popular today.

Foster died on January 13, 1864 when he was 37 years old.

History Of Stephen Foster Memorial Day

Stephen Foster Memorial Day is celebrated as a federal holiday after the law was passed in 1966 according to Title 36 of the US code. The first holiday was in 1952 after its proclamation in 1951 by President Harry Truman.

Why Stephen Foster Memorial Day?

It takes a lot of courage to venture into the unknown and make a name for yourself. Stephen Collins Foster, known as 'Father Of American Music', is one such musician. Born on July 4, 1826, Stephen Collins completed his formal education in Pennsylvania and Athens, where he performed his first work. With no formal musical training, Foster taught himself to play many instruments. He received some training from Henry Kleber, a German composer. Raised in a city with a large European immigrant population, Foster was influenced by German, Italian, Scottish and Irish music.

He wrote the hit song "Oh Susannah" while he was working as an accountant in Cincinnati. Foster's compositions reflect a combination of minstrel and lounge music with a southern feel. Many of his songs are about African-American culture and the problems that arise in a society that keeps slavery. He decided to avoid offensive lyrics in his compositions, which are common in musicals because he wanted to create a subtle style. The majority of his hit songs were composed after signing with Christy Minstrels. Foster has been tried to make a living composing music, an art that was not even considered a profession in his day. He also wrote hymns and composed many musical instruments.

His contracts with Firth, Pond and Company did not bring him much profit while he struggled to provide for his family. Because authorship and copyright legislation were limited in his day, many his songs were edited and published by competitors without paying him royalties. Although Stephen Foster is now one of the world's most famous composers, he remained unknown to the public during his lifetime, as he was not a professional performer. At the age of 37, Stephen Foster died in poverty, leaving more than 200 works that have survived to this day.

Since his death, Stephen Foster's has grown in popularity and recognition by fans around the world. Stephen Fosters Cultural Center State Park, his memorial at the University of Pittsburgh, his sculpture at the entrance to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and many other sculptures and busts in his memorial are all signs and symbols of his legacy. Music is often seen as a gift from God. Stephen Foster's songs have passed through time and continue to live in our hearts long after he's gone.

What Do People Do?

The President of the United States may issue an annual proclamation calling on the nation to celebrate Stephen Foster Memorial Day with:

  • Appropriate rituals.
  • The pilgrimage to the temples of Stephen Foster.
  • Music programs feature his compositions.

Events can be held at locations in memory of Stephen Foster, such as the Stephen Foster Cultural Center State Park in Florida. Some schools offer music and history lessons that focus on the life of Stephen Foster and the works surrounding this date. Many organizations and associations that honor music specifically for musicians, such as the Stephen Foster Citizens Aid Foundation, also pay tribute to Stephen Foster.


Stephen Foster Memorial Day has been observed annually on January 13th (since 1952).


Friday, January 13th, 2023

Saturday, January 13th, 2024

Monday, January 13th, 2025

Tuesday, January 13th, 2026

Wednesday, January 13th, 2027

Founded by

President Harry S. Truman on December 13th, 1951

Also on Monday, January 13th, 2025

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