Finding Aids to Collections Organized by Topic in the Archive of Folk Culture
SEA SHANTIES AND SAILORS' SONGS: A PRELIMINARY GUIDE TO RECORDINGS
IN THE ARCHIVE OF FOLK CULTURE
Compiled by: Robert J. Walser
Joseph C. Hickerson
Publication Date: February 1981
For additional information about Archive
of Folk Culture collections, contact the Folklife
Reading Room. To request copies, see our webpages regarding audio
materials and photographic materials.
Please refer to the AFC and/or AFS numbers when requesting information.
All indications of time duration listed in this finding aid are estimates.
A glossary of selected terms can be found at the end of this
AFS 377-381; 418; 420-424; 430; 431; 436; 440; 445; 499; 505; 510-512;
515; 516; 531: Approximately thirty pulling shanties sung by
Pappie, Henry Lundie, and others in Florida, Georgia, and the Bahamas.
Recorded in 1935 by the Alan Lomax-Zora Neale Hurston-Mary Elizabeth
AFS 651-652: Four deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung
by John M. "Sailor Dad" Hunt in Whitetop, Virginia. Recorded
by John A. Lomax in 1935.
AFS 2515-2533: Thirty-seven deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle
songs sung by Captain Richard Maitland of Sailors Snug Harbor, Staten
Island, New York. Recorded in May 1939 by Alan Lomax.
AFS 2839-2847; 3073-3081: Fourteen recordings of deepwater
shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung by John M. "Sailor Dad" Hunt
in Virginia, and seven roustabout and Mississippi River songs sung
by various singers in the South. Recorded by Herbert Halpert under
the joint sponsorship of the Library of Congress and the WPA.
AFS 3890-3891: Two menhaden fishing songs sung by the crew
of "The Boys" off the coast of Florida in July 1940. Recorded
by Robert Cornwall and Robert Cook for the WPA. File 3881-3902 contains
texts for additional songs not recorded and a description of the work.
AFS 4228-4232: Eleven deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs
sung by Captain Leighton Robinson, Alex Barr, and others in California.
Recorded in 1939 by Sidney Robinson (Cowell) for the California WPA.
AFS 4342-4401: Includes forty-five recordings of deepwater
shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung by Tom Roberts, William Fishlock,
Dr. Charles H. Rosher, and others in England. Recorded in 1908 by Percy
AFS 4436-4437: Seven deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs
sung by John M. (Sailor Dad" Hunt of Marion, Virginia. Recorded
in Washington, DC in 1941 by Alan Lomax.
AFS 5235: One deepwater fo'c'sle song sung by John M. "Sailor
Dad" Hunt of Marion, Virginia. Recorded at the Library of Congress
in 1942 by Alan Lomax.
AFS 6063A: Two deepwater shanties sung by Mrs. Wynifred Staples
Smith and Gene Staples in Dixfield, Maine. Recorded in 1941 by Eloise
AFS 6566-6603: Fifty-eight deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle
songs and sea stories sung and told by Captain Patrick Tayluer in New
York City. Recorded in 1942 by William M. Doerflinger.
AFS 7092: Ten longshoremen's songs sung by five black longshoremen
from the Ball Steamship Company in Tampa, Florida. Recorded in 1944
by John Becker and Alan Lomax.
AFS 7102-7198; 7203-7217; 7246-7247; 7251-7252; 7278-7282: More
than seventy-five sea songs, deepwater shanties, and sea stories sung
and told by Richard Hartlan, Roger Roast, Ben Henneberry, and others.
Recorded in Nova Scotia, 1943-1944, by Helen Creighton. Numerical files
7100-7199 and 7200-7316 contain helpful notes and comments as well
as cross references to published materials.
AFS 8377; 8394; 8428; 8431; 8469-8473: Twenty-two recordings
of deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung by Noble B. Brown. Recorded
in Wisconsin in 1942 by Aubrey Snyder, Phyllis Pinkerton, and Helen
Stratman-Thomas (Blotz) under the direction of Professor Leland A.
AFS 8772-8851: Includes deepwater shanties, fo'c'sle songs,
and sea songs sung by T. Leary, L. Hayman, and C.K. Tillet recorded
in North Carolina, circa 1920-1940, by Frank C. Brown.
AFS 9168-9169: Ten deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung
by Captain Patrick Tayluer in New York City. Recorded in 1948 by William
AFS 9192; 9197; 9210; 9217; 9220; 9227-9229; 9244; 9280; 9284;
9290; 9295: Forty-seven deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs
sung by Edmund Henneberry, Joseph Hyson, and others. Recorded in
the maritime provinces of Canada in 1948 by Helen Creighton.
AFS 9841B4; 9857B1-5: Six deepwater shanties sung by John M. "Sailor
Dad" Hunt of Marion, Virginia. Recorded at the National Folk Festival
in Washington, DC in 1938.
AFS 10,505-10,506: Twenty-two deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle
songs sung by Captain Leighton Robinson in California. Recorded in
1951 by Sam Eskin.
AFS 11,300: Nine deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung
by Paul Clayton in Charlottesville, Virginia. Recorded ca. 1956 by
AFS 11,399: Three menhaden fishing songs sung by Shedrick Cain
in Weems, Virginia. Recorded in April 1957 by James Wharton.
AFS 13,054-13,059: Seven songs and stories of the sea performed
by William J. Sherrard in Nelson, New Hampshire. Recorded in 1966 and
1967 by Mr. Sherrard.
AFS 13,160A; 13,160B; 13,162A & B; 13,163A & B; 13,164A: Seventeen
sea songs and stories by various informants. Recorded in Newfoundland
in 1951 by MacEdward Leach.
AFS 13,480-13,486: Sixteen stories and songs of the sea narrated
and sung by William J. Sherrard. Recorded in Nelson, New Hampshire,
1967-1968, by Albert C. Brisette.
AFS 13,620B; 13,621B; 13,623; 13,625; 13,651: Seven deepwater
shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung by various singers. Recorded in California,
1931-1932, by Robert Winslow Gordon.
AFS 14,025: The last voyage of the Roanoke recounted
by William J. Sherrard. Recorded in Nelson, New Hampshire in 1969 by
AFS 14,211-14,212: Three sea songs sung by Nick Underhill and
Alan Kelly. Recorded in New Brunswick in 1963 by Sandy Paton and Lee
Haggerty for Folk-Legacy Records.
AFS 14,222: Ca. Fifteen West Indian whaling songs and shanties
sung by various singers. Recorded in the British West Indies, 1968-1970,
by Jack Stanesco.
AFS 14,574: Ten menhaden fishing songs sung by the Bright Lights
Quartet. Recorded in Weems, Virginia, in 1967 by Robert Witte.
AFS 14,583: Two black rowing songs sung by Spearman Lancaster
in Rock Point, Maryland. Recorded April 1971 by Thomas Jerry Floyd.
AFS 14,830-14,877; 14,884-14,911; 15,026-15,052 [Preservation tapes:
19,900-19,921]: More than three hundred and fifty deepwater shanties,
fo'c'sle songs, and sea songs sung by various singers in England,
Scotland, North Carolina, and Mississippi. Recorded from 1929-1940
by James Madison Carpenter. The Library also has an extensive collection
of Carpenter's manuscripts in the Archive of Folk Song stacks and
on Music Division microfilm M3109. Most recordings in this collection
are short, containing one or two verses and a chorus.
AFS 15,280; 15,303; 15,326; 15,335; 15,353; 15,381: Twenty
deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung by Yankee John Galusha,
Lena Bourne Fish, and others. Recorded in North Carolina, Virginia,
New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, West Virginia and
the Bahamas from 1940-1966 by Anne and Frank M. Warner.
AFS 16,281; 16,291; 16,415-16,417; 16,456-16,462; 16,470-16,471;
16,487A1; 16,515A; 16,533B: Forty-one deepwater shanties and
fo'c'sle songs sung by Captain Charles Languedoc, Captain Burke,
and others. Recorded in Canada, 1941-1942. Also two shanties recorded
in the Carribean in 1938. All recorded by Laura C. Boulton.
AFS 18,910-18,912: Forty-eight deepwater shanties, fo'c'sle
songs, sea songs and bargeman's songs sung by Stan Hugill, Harry Cox,
and Bob Roberts. Recorded in England ca. 1950-1970 by Peter Kennedy
and others and issued on the Folktracks cassettes.
AFS 18,994; 18,995; 18,996; 18,997A; 19,005; 19,007; 19,009-19,011: Over
one-hundred deepwater shanties and fo'c'sle songs sung by various singers.
Recorded in California, ca. 1920-23, by Robert Winslow Gordon. Also
rowing songs from Georgia, ca. 1928-30.
AFS 19,712: One menhaden fishing song sung by unidentified
informants aboard the "Dewey" off the Gulf Coast. Recorded
in July 1942 by Robert Reeves.
Several types of sea shanties and sailors' songs are found in the
recorded collections of the Archive of Folk Culture. The following
are definitions of the principal terms used in this guide.
Bargeman's Songs: Songs unique to the Thames River sailing
Deepwater Fo'c'sle Songs: Songs sung for entertainment by deepwater
sailors during off hours.
Deepwater Shanties: Worksongs of deepwater sailors.
Longshoremen's and Roustabouts' Songs: Songs sung while working
cargo into or out of vessels.
Menhaden Fishing Songs: Songs sung by fishermen in the menhaden
fishery while hauling nets.
Pulling Shanties: Songs sung in the Carribean while pulling
boats or other heavy objects along the beach and for other work.
Sea Songs: Songs about the sea, vessels, and sailors sung by
shore folk as well as sailors.