Did You Know?

Arguably the most widely known song in the English language, "Happy Birthday to You" is credited to a pair of Kentucky sisters. Mildred J. Hill, a schoolteacher, and her sister, Dr. Patty Smith Hill, a principal at the school where Mildred taught, both get credit for writing and composing a song titled "Good Morning to All." Patty Hill is credited with the lyrics and Mildred with the music for the song, which was first published in 1893 in the book "Song Stories for the Kindergarten." However, many previous songs with very similar lyrics predated "Good Morning to All," including "Happy Greetings to All" by Horace Waters. Initially, the Hill sisters' song had nothing to do with birthdays. In fact, one legend suggests that Patty Hill was not even responsible for altering the original lyrics, which were meant as a morning greeting to Mildred Hill's kindergarten students. One theory suggests Mildred Hill's own students altered the lyrics during classroom birthday parties. While "Happy Birthday to All" was published in 1935, there remains some controversy as to who wrote the lyrics pertaining to birthdays. After accepting a position as the head of the Department of Kindergarten Education at Columbia University's Kindergarten College, Patty Hill learned Robert H. Coleman had published the song with a second verse added. That second verse is the "Happy Birthday to All" verse. Upon publishing of the second verse, Patty Hill, whose sister Mildred had passed away in 1916, took Coleman to court over the copyright issue of the song, eventually winning. Oddly enough, controversy over the song continued into the 21st century, when the issue of copyright remained a legal question.
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