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Frances Marvel Gnass collection

Identifier: L042

Scope and Contents

This collection contains items from Frances Marvel Gnass’s family, including Joseph Brown’s ciphering book of mathematical operations and business accounting practices (1840-1843); a promissory note for payment to Isaac Brown (1857), and a page of accounting notations of the Brown family (1869-1877); Edith Walker’s autograph book (1888-1893); and a full-page from the Crawfordsville Journal and Review that lists soldiers buried in Montgomery County, Indiana by cemetery location and the war they fought in (May 27, 1938).

This collection also contains Gnass’s “Class of 1913” autograph book and January 29, 1913 graduation program; a “Prosperity Certificate” given for "366 Happy Days" for the new year of 1916; newspaper clippings from 1939 and 1944 about Gnass; a photograph of Gnass and Irwin Stillerman from 1948; unused sheets of stationary of Maytone Music Publishers and Topik Tunes with Gnass's Royal Oak, Michigan address on the letterhead; and a copy of The Complete Collection of Poems and Song Lyrics by Frances Marvel Gnass, a soft cover book compiled by Julie Frances Witkowski and published in 2008.

The bulk of this collection consists of copies of sheet music, including “The Garden of Spring” (1937) and “Peek-a-Boo Moon,” with words by Frances Marvel Gnass and music by Sylvester L. Cross (1937); “You’re an Old Fashioned Bouquet,” words and music by Frances M. Gnass, Rose Goddard and Mary E. Gaskill (1939); and “Out of the Night,” by Frances Gnass (1942). Music published by Maytone Music Publishers includes “Subconsciously” (1948), “I’ll Never, Never, Never Leave Nevada” (1948), “It’s All Up to You Sweetheart” (1948), “Be a Friend” (1949), “Farewell” (1949), “Graduation Day” (1949), “Miss Liberty” (1949), and “Knowing You Love Me” (1955), all words and music by Edna Mohr, Marie Miller, Frances Gnass and Dave Ringle. Music published by Topik Tunes includes “Soft as a Whisper,” by Frances M. Gnass (1943) and “Your Love is One That Will Remain,” by Ed Hodowud and Frances Gnass (1951). “My Atomic Sensation” and “Would You Dare?” were written and published by Frances Marvel Gnass, with the music written by Irwin Stillerman (1947). Music published by Bell Music Company, Maytone Music Publishers and Topik Tunes not written by Mrs. Gnass includes “I’m Always Dreaming,” by Joe O’Tosky and Howard Summerlin (1942), “Is Sally Still waiting for Me?” by Lou Breese, Jack Fascinato and Tim Gayle (1943), “Pullin’ Corks” by Jo Billcheck (1945), and “Won’t You,” by Sam Matter and Dave Ringle (1948).


  • 1840-2008


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Frances Marvel Barnhart was born July 5, 1898 in Montgomery County, Indiana to Benjamin F. and Edith M. (Walker) Barnhart. She attended school in Indianapolis and worked as a telephone operator for a brief time before marrying John C. Gnass in June 1917. The Gnasses moved to Detroit, Michigan and later made their home in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit. Frances Gnass was the mother of 6 children and was a poet and song lyricist. Gnass had many of her poems and song lyrics published in various magazines and anthologies during the 1930s and 1940s. She was also part-owner of the Bell Music, Maytone Music and Topik Tunes music publishing companies. Gnass was a member of the Poetry Society of Michigan, the National Writers Club, and was made an honory member of the Eugene Field Society on November 8, 1945 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to contemporary literature. Frances Gnass passed away at the age of 79 on July 5, 1977.


Information found within collection. "Frances M. Barnhart." Indiana, Marriage Index, 1800-1941. Accessed April 1, 2020.

Find a Grave. "Frances Marvel Barnhart Gnass." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed April 1, 2020.


0.3 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Leslie C. Wimsatt on 2010/12/27 and from Julie Frances Adams-Witkowski on 2021/07/09


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2020/04 and 2021/12 by Laura Eliason. EAD revised finding aid created 2021/12/28 by Laura Eliason.
Frances Marvel Gnass collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.