This article is a microhistory of music collecting in eighteenth-century America. It focuses on the life and collection of an elite white woman, Sally Brown, who gathered an amount of music that was unusual for women in the USA at that time. She was able to do so because her family had a successful mercantile business, one that included the slave trade. Sally’s experiences shed light on the gendered history of amateur music-making, which this article posits were connected to other gendered forms of domestic labour in the early American republic. By tracing how Sally acquired music, this article demonstrates the importance both of affective, personal ties and of the anonymized labour of the global trade network, which supplied her and other consumers with music-book materials. This article argues that, in ways with which musicological scholarship has yet to reckon, intimacy and labour contributed to music collecting at both individual and structural levels.