Stephen Foster

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Folk Singer
Date of Birth July 4, 1826
Place of Birth Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date of Death Jan 13, 1864 (37)
Horoscope Cancer

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Stephen Foster

Stephen Collins Foster, known as "the father of American music", was an American songwriter known primarily for his parlor and minstrel music. He wrote more than 200 songs, including "Oh! Susanna", "Hard Times Come Again No More", "Camptown Races", "Old Folks at Home", "My Old Kentucky Home", "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair", "Old Black Joe", and "Beautiful Dreamer", and many of his compositions remain popular today. He has been identified as "the most famous songwriter of the nineteenth century" and may be the most recognizable American composer in other countries. His compositions are sometimes referred to as "childhood songs" because they have been included in the music curriculum of early education. Most of his handwritten music manuscripts are lost, but editions issued by publishers of his day feature in various collections.

Born: Stephen Collins Foster, July 4, 1826, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: January 13, 1864, New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting place: Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Monuments: Stephen Foster Memorial, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Residence: Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, U.S, New York City, New York, U.S.
Education: Athens Academy, Towanda, Pennsylvania Athens Academy
Occupation: Composer, lyricist, poet
Years active: 1844–1864
Agent: Various sheet music publishers and brother, Morrison Foster
Known for: First fully professional U.S. songwriter
Notable work: "Angelina Baker", "Beautiful Dreamer", "Camptown Races", "Gentle Annie", "The Glendy Burk", "Hard Times Come Again No More", "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair", "My Old Kentucky Home", "Oh! Susanna", "Old Black Joe", "Old Folks at Home" ("Swanee River"), "Open Thy Lattice Love"
Style: Period music, minstrel
Home town: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Spouse(s): Jane McDowell Foster Wiley (1829–1903) (other sources use Jane Denny Foster Wiley)
Children: Marion Foster Welch (1851–1935)
Parent(s): William Barclay Foster (1779–1855), Eliza Clayland Tomlinson Foster (1788–1855)
Relatives: Evelyn Foster Morneweck (niece and biographer), James Foster (grandfather), Siblings:Charlotte Susanna Foster (1809–1829), Anne Eliza Foster Buchanan (1812–1891), Henry Baldwin Foster (1816–1870), Henrietta Angelica Foster Thornton (1819–1879), Dunning McNair Foster (1821–1856), Morrison Foster (1823–1904)
IMDb: Stephen Foster's IMDb

About Stephen Foster

Known for composing the songs "Oh! Susanna," "Beautiful Dreamer," "My Old Kentucky Home," and other standards. He was considered to be the father of American music.

Before Fame

He used to be a bookkeeper with a steamship company.


He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Family Life

He grew up with an older brother named William and attended private academies in Allegheny, Athens, and Towanda, Pennsylvania.


His song "Nelly Bly" inspired journalist Nellie Bly's pseudonym.

Information related to Stephen Foster

  • The Stephen Foster Collection and archive – Most primary sources related to his life, family and music have been retained by the University of Pittsburgh Library System as the Foster Hall Collection housed in the Stephen Foster Memorial. These materials were obtained from philanthropists, or donated by collectors or his heirs.
  • Blackface minstrel songwriters
  • Hall of Fame for Great Americans inductees
  • Burials at Allegheny Cemetery
  • Musicians from Pittsburgh
  • Songwriters from Pennsylvania
  • Washington & Jefferson College alumni
  • American lyricists
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Latest information about Stephen Foster updated on January 16, 2021.

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