My Old Aunt Sally

Title: 
My Old Aunt Sally
Type: 
Song
Description: 

[Alternately: “Aunt Sally,” “My Aunt Sally,” “Old Aunt Sally,” “Ole Aunt Sally”]


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Music adapted from Charles Dibdin’s “Peggy Perkins” (c.1745-1814) first published in England in 1790 and subsequently in America between 1795-1797; lyrics by Dan Emmett (1815-1904) (Nathan 301). According to Nathan, the song, under its present title, was first published in 1843 (175). The versions of the song surveyed for this entry place emphasis upon the character Sally either as a person of extreme beauty (Lewis & Johnson edition) or extreme peculiarity (Lewis and Co. and B. Williams editions). It appears that in the process of transmission there has been a shift from Aunt Sally as the narrator’s actual Aunt (generally coupled with an Uncle Ben character) to Aunt Sally as the target of the narrator’s amorous advances.



While the song appears to have been popular during the period in question, its current status is uncertain. The recordings identified below suggest that this song, or a variation of it, is entering, or has been admitted into the America country-folk canon. A possible variant of the song is now used as an American military cadence, which is also available as a sound recording (also listed below).



Select Recording History:

  • Vance Randolph. “Old Aunt Sally.” 1000 Jigs and Reels. Howe, 1954.
  • Pete Humphrey. “Old Aunt Sally (Is Good Enough for Anybody).” Old-Time Banjo Anthology, Vol. 2. Marimac, 1991.
  • U.S. Marine Corps. “My Aunt Sally.” Run to Cadence with the Recon Marines. Documentary Recordings, 2002.



    Works Cited:
  • Nathan, Hans. Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy. Norman: Oklahoma UP, 1962.


    Mark Turner


  • Media: 
    Sheet Music Cover
    Sheet Music Cover #2
    Sheet Music Cover #3
    Sheet Music Cover #4
    Sheet Music Cover #5
    Sheet Music Cover #6
    Sheet Music Cover #7
    Lyrics
    Audio File - Minstrels in the Parlour

    Performance(s) listed of this act

    Performer(s) Troupe Event and Venue

    White, W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 24 Feb. 1846 - 24 Feb. 1846
    Gloucester House, Piccadilly, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 09 Mar. 1846 - 14 Mar. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 30 Mar. 1846 - 04 Apr. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 22 Apr. 1846 - 22 Apr. 1846
    Crosby Hall, London (city-county)
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 25 May. 1846 - 30 May. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 25 May. 1846 - 25 May. 1846
    Sussex Hall, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 09 Jun. 1846 - 13 Jun. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 10 Jun. 1846 - 10 Jun. 1846
    Horns, The, Kennington, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 12 Jun. 1846 - 12 Jun. 1846
    Green Man, Blackheath, London (city-county)

    Roberts, B.
    Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1846) Minstrel Show, 26 Jun. 1846 - 27 Jun. 1846
    Concert Hall, Lancashire
    Minstrel Show, 29 Jun. 1846 - 04 Jul. 1846
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    White, W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Dramatic, 08 Sep. 1846 - 09 Sep. 1846
    Theatre Royal, Bristol, Bristol (city-county) in Gloucestershire

    Levison
    Ethiopian Melodists and New York Serenaders Minstrel Show, 27 Sep. 1847 - 01 Oct. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Irwin, J.H.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 18 Dec. 1848 - 20 Dec. 1848
    Theatre Royal, Birmingham, Warwickshire

    Irwin, J.H.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 21 Dec. 1848 - 22 Dec. 1848
    Theatre Royal, Birmingham, Warwickshire

    Irwin, J.H.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 23 Dec. 1848 - 23 Dec. 1848
    Theatre Royal, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire

    Irwin, J.H.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 05 Jun. 1849 - 09 Jun. 1849
    Sadler's Wells, London (city-county)