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"Old Folks at Home," listing E. P. Christy as writer and composer. New York: Firth, Pond and Co., circa 1851.
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Cover of sheet music.

Credit: Library of Congress

In 1851 Foster wrote what would become one of his most popular songs, "Old Folks at Home," then sold popular minstrel show entertainer E. P. Christy the right to use his name as the song's author. Foster would soon regret the decision when the song became a national sensation. Bad business decisions and the need for quick money would plague Foster throughout his short life. In 1857 he would sell rights to all future royalties on "Old Folks at Home," "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair," and other songs for $1,872.28.

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