A critical or scholarly edition is an edition of music prepared through close examination of manuscripts and other primary sources, intended to convey as accurately as possible the composer's original intentions. The editor is usually an expert in the music of the composer or stylistic period being represented.
In the Presser Music Library, critical editions are located in the 780.82 - 780.83 call number area for printed music. We have lots of critical editions of American Music, many in the Recent Researches in American Music series, 780.83 R295A.
More about critical editions:
"United States of American" from Oxford Music Online Sections on art music, traditional music, African American, Hispanic American, Amerindian, Asian American music and more