The True History Of The Happy Birthday Song

Mildred J. Hill

Happy Birthday to You” dates from the late 19th century, when sisters Patty and Mildred J. Hill introduced the song “Good Morning to All” to Patty’s kindergarten class in Kentucky. They published the tune in their 1893 songbook Song Stories for the Kindergarten with Chicago publisher Clayton F. Summ

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Featuring entries written by Louisville native and resident Mildred J. Hill (1859 – 1916) between 1895 and 1900, the notebook pictured above contains the only known manuscript of “Good Morning to All” — the original version of “Happy Birthday to You.”

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Mildred was a composer, pianist, and musicologist who specialized in the study of Negro spirituals. Her younger sister, Patty (1868 – 1946), taught classes at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School. Together, they composed a number of songs for children, including “Good Morning to All.”

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The songs were first compiled and published as a book, Song Stories for the Kindergarten, by Chicago-based publisher Clayton F. Summy in 1893. Mildred composed and arranged the music, while Patty wrote and adapted the lyrics.

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