Footprints in the Snow

DESCRIPTION: Singer goes to visit his girlfriend, but she's gone out for a walk. He follows her footprints in the snow, finds her, and proposes. She accepts, and he says he'll never "forget the day/When Mary (Lily) lost her way/I found her footprints in the snow"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1876 (sheet music -- probably not the original)
KEYWORDS: courting love marriage
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South)) US(MW)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 251, "I Traced Her Little Footprints in the Snow" (1 text)

Roud #2660
Big Slim Aliff, "Footprints in the Snow" (Decca 5316, 1937; rec. 1936)
Buckley & Skidmore "Footprints in the Snow" (Continental 8030, n.d.)
Cliff Carlisle, "Footprints in the Snow" (Decca 5720, n.d.; Decca 46105, 1947; rec. 1939)
Dusty Ellison & his Saddle Dusters, "Footprints in the Snow" (4-Star 1155, n.d. but post-World War II)
Rambling Red Foley, "I Traced Her Little Footprints in the Snow" (Conqueror 8304, 1934)
Bogue Ford, "Footprints in the snow" (AFS 4209 B1, 1939; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Clint Howard et al, "Footprints in the Snow" (on Ashley02, WatsonAshley01)
Bradley Kincaid, "Footprints in the Snow" (Varsity 8038, 1939) (Majestic 6011, 1947)
Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys, "Footprints in the Snow" (Columbia 37151 1946; Columbia 20080, n.d.,; rec. 1945) (Decca 28416, 1952)

Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 2837, "Footprints in the Snow" ("Some lovers like the summer time, when they can stroll about"), unknown, n.d.; also Harding B 11(1660), Harding B 11(1661), "I Traced Her Little Footmarks in the Snow"
NOTES [346 words]: This has become a bluegrass standard, and I suspect it was composed by one of the "brother acts" of the 1930s, possibly the Monroe Bros.? - PJS
Touched up, perhaps. But it's older, as the sundry recordings show (and that's not a complete list -- Vernon Dalhart also recorded the piece). - RBW
Broadside Bodleian Harding B 11(1660) states "This song is the sole Copyright of Mr. Geo. Lewis....,29,Quay Street, Manchester.
Country Music Sources by Guthrie T Meade Jr with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade (Chapel Hill, 2002), p. 214 states "Harry Wright, w&m[words and music],1880s/Geo. Russell Jackson, wds, C.W.Bennett,m,1886; Ref: (1)WCS[Wehman's Collection of Songs(NYC:Henry J. Wehman,1884-94),42 issues](July, 1891);....."
Steve Roud, in a BALLAD-L note: "A copy of the sheet music obviously came up on Amazon at some point in the past.... in fact it's there twice, as 1876 and 1878 [for Harry Wright]." In fact it's there [link no longer active] three times: as "I traced her little footmarks in the snow. [Song, begins: 'Some lovers like'.]" in 1876, and as "Footmarks in the Snow ... for the Pianoforte" and as "I traced her little footmarks in the snow. [Song.]" in 1878.
Incidentally, the 1931 record by Bernice (Si) Coleman and the West Virginia Ramblers ("Footprints in the Snow" on West Virginia Hills Old Homestead OHCS-141) uses words much closer to the broadsides than those on the later records I have heard by Bill Monroe (and, consequently, by Flatt and Scruggs).- BS
As noted above, the sheet music link is dead, and I have not found another. Searching the American Memory site failed to turn up another copy of the sheet music. It did, however, give a link to an item in the Duke University collection called "Footprints ON the Snow" (currently found at The words are by J. B. Murphy, music and piano arrangement by J. Henry Whittemore (who also published the piece), from 1866. It clearly is not the same song, but there are occasional similarities. I wonder if it didn't inspire Wright to produce his song. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
File: DTftprin

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