Stephen Foster Memorial Day

Stephen Foster was a songwriter who has been called the “father of American music.” He wrote hundreds of songs, including “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Oh! Susanna,” and “Swanee River.” Many historians have called him one of the most famous songwriters of the 1800s and one of the most recognizable American composers around the world. That’s why it’s quite fitting that a day called Stephen Foster Memorial Day should be held on the date of his death: January 13th. It’s a great day to enjoy one of his 200+ songs and/or share them with friends and family members.

A Short Bio Of Stephen Foster

Although not much is known about this American composer, we can lay out some of the facts that we do know about him. Stephen Foster was born Stephen Collins Foster on July 4th, 1826, in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. He went to private schools in Athens and Towanda, Pennsylvania, and received a proper education in mathematics, English, diction, Latin, Greek, and the classics.

He taught himself to play the flute, guitar, clarinet, and piano. He then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1846 and became a bookkeeper at his brother’s steamship company. During this time, he wrote his first successful song: “Oh! Susanna.” This song would become the anthem for wannabe gold miners heading west to the California Gold Rush.

He would eventually return to Pennsylvania and sign a contract with the Christy Minstrels. He would then go on to write some of his most famous songs, including “Ring de Banjo,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and “Old Dog Tray.” In 1864, he became sick with a fever and fell in his hotel in Bowery.

This resulted in his neck getting cut. His writing partner, George Cooper, would end up finding him lying in a pool of his own blood, so he had him rushed to Bellevue Hospital. Stephen Foster died three days later, on January 13, 1864, at the age of 37.

Some Stephen Foster Songs

Even though we don’t have the space to list every single Stephen Foster song (he did have over 200 of them), we can list a few of them so that everyone reading this can seek them out for themselves.

  • Camptown Races
  • Dolly Day
  • A Dream Of My Mother And My Home
  • Farewell Mother Dear
  • Kissing In The Dark
  • Linda Has Departed
  • The Village Maiden
  • Turn Not Away!
  • Suffer Little Children To Come Unto Me
  • Seek And Ye Shall Find
  • Praise The Lord!

The History Of Stephen Foster Memorial Day

Stephen Foster Memorial Day was made into a holiday in November of 1966 by the U.S. Congress. The following year, in 1967, it was celebrated for the first time. It has been celebrated ever since.

Observing Stephen Foster Memorial Day

Observing this holiday can be done by learning more about American composer Stephen Foster or listening to some of his music. You can also use the hashtag #StephenFosterMemorialDay on your social media posts for the day to spread the word about his music.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
January 13 Saturday
Next year (2025)
January 13 Monday
Last year (2023)
January 13 Friday