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Summer 2000 - Volume XXII, Number 3

American Folklife Center - The Library of Congress

The American Folklife Center was created in 1976 by the U.S. Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, publication, and training. The Center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Music Division of the Library of Congress in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.


Peggy A. Bulger, Director
James Hardin, Acting Assistant
Doris Craig, Administrative Assistant


David A. Taylor, Acting Coordinator


Catherine Hiebert Kerst, Archivist
Nora Yeh, Archivist


Peter T. Bartis, Folklife Specialist
Camila Bryce-Laporte, Program Coordinator
Mary Hufford, Folklife Specialist
David A. Taylor, Folklife Specialist

Public Events

Theadocia Austen, Coordinator


Jennifer A. Cutting, Folklife Specialist
Judith A. Gray, Folklife Specialist, Coordinator
Stephanie A. Hall, Automation Specialist
Ann Hoog, Folklife Specialist

Administrative Office

Fax: 202 707-2076

Reference Service

Tel: 202 707-5510
E-mail: [email protected]


Congressional Appointees

James F. Hoy, Chair, Kansas
Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Vice-Chair, Massachusetts
Janet Brown, South Dakota
John Penn Fix III, Washington
Mickey Hart, California
William L. Kinney Jr., South Carolina
Judith McCulloh, Illinois
Charles E. Trimble, Nebraska

Presidential Appointees

Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, U.S.
Department of the Interior
William Kennard, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Mario Moreno, Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and
Interagency Affairs, Department of Education
Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, Deputy Assistant to the President
and Advisor to the First Lady on the Millennium

Librarian Appointees

Jane Beck, Vermont
Norma Cant£, Texas
Tom Rankin, North Carolina
William H. Wiggins Jr., Indiana

Ex Officio Members

James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress
Lawrence M. Small, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Bill Ivey, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
William Ferris, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities
Jo Radner, President, American Folklore Society
Bonnie Wade, President, Society for Ethnomusicology
Peggy A. Bulger, Director, American Folklife Center


James Hardin, Editor
David A. Taylor, Editorial Advisor
Sheryle Shears,Designer
Peggy Pixley, Production


The American Folklife Center’s Web site provides full texts of many publications, information about AFC projects, multi-media presentations of selected collections, links to Web resources on ethnography, and announcements of upcoming events. The address for the home page is An index of the site contents is available at

The Web site for The Veterans History Project provides an overview of the project, an online “kit” for participants recording oral histories of veterans, and a brief presentation of some examples of video- and audio-recordings of veterans’ stories. The address is

The Folkline Information Service is now a cooperative announcement program of the American Folklore Society and the American Folklife Center. It is available on the American Folklore Society’s server: The service provides timely information on the field of folklore and folklife, including training and professional opportunities, and news items of national interest.

Editor's Notes

One Year

Last year, on July 6, Peggy Bulger became director of the American Folklife Center. She describes her first year as a " whirlwind" of training and orientation sessions, tours of facilities, and meeting and working with Library and Center staff.

In addition to her work at the Library, Peggy has traveled to Missoula, Montana; Galax, Virginia; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; New York, New York; Jonesborough, Tennessee; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Bloomington, Indiana; and Jackson, Mississippi, to meet with colleagues, attend conferences, and build the Archive of Folk Culture.

She has worked with the Center board and staff to develop a three-year strategic plan that has been embraced by Library of Congress administrative officials. She has opened new lines of communication with other agencies in the Washington area and around the country. "Now that the Center has a clear strategic plan in place," she says, "there are great opportunities for collaborations with other institutions and agencies. Working together with others, we can achieve a great deal more than we could possibly achieve alone."

Events, projects, and activities of the past year include surveying the Center's collections for security and preservation; assisting the Library with its "Living Legends" program for the Bicentennial (see page 6); coordinating the Local Legacies project (see page 8); placing four new Folklife Center collections online for the National Digital Library; updating the Center's Web site; conducting a summer training school for field work in conjunction with Indiana University; providing guidance for the Montana Heritage Project; hosting ten interns, two Library of Congress Junior Fellows, and two Parsons Fund award winners; and providing editorial assistance on the Encyclopedia of Appalachia.

The Center has been successful with a number of fund- raising initiatives to preserve collection material, plan conferences, and put collections online. Peggy is working with Center staff to develop several proposals for both private and federal monies to increase staff and resources.

Upcoming activities and events include the acquisition of four major collections, co-sponsorship with the American Folklore Society of a conference on the preservation of recorded-sound collections, as well as a joint project with the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage for the preservation of recorded sound materials, book and recording publication projects, new offerings of collection material online, and a conference honoring Benjamin Botkin (folklorist and former head of the Folk Archive, 1942-45).

More to come! Stay tuned.


Note: Back issues are currently available in text format only, however, many print back issues are still available for free. Request the specific issue (volume and year) and give your name and address in an email to [email protected]

Cover: Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley with his grandson Nathan, in the hospitality tent on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, for the Library of Congress's Bicentennial concert. Photo by James Hardin

Back Cover: John Hatcher, Iuka, Mississippi, May 12, 1939, recorded by Herbert Halpert. Photo by Abbott Ferriss

Three Pioneering Folk Music Collectors

By Christa Maher

Thanks to the work of three pioneering folk music collectors and an equipment loan program sponsored by the Library of Congress, the American Folklife Center holds a remarkable collection of blues and gospel recordings made in central Georgia in the early 1940s. In the book Red River Blues, Bruce Bastin says that (apart from a few recordings made at Hampton Institute in Virginia) these recordings are the only known noncommercial recordings made in the Southeast in the 1940s. "They provide the link between pre- and postwar recordings and offer unparalleled evidence of both persistence and change in the music" (Bruce Bastin, " Noncommercial Recordings: The 1940s," Red River Blues (University of Illinois Press, 1986).

In January 1941, Horace Mann Bond, president of Fort Valley State College in rural Georgia, invited the Archive of American Folk-Song's Alan Lomax to attend the college's second annual folk festival. Inspired by Bond's visit to a rural church, modeled after the National Eisteddfod in Wales, and endorsed by artists and scholars such as W.C. Handy, Langston Hughes, William Grant Still, Sterling Brown, and Thomas Talley, the folk festival at Fort Valley had gotten off to an auspicious start. It attracted musicians from all over Georgia, who played secular and sacred songs on guitar, banjo, piano, harmonica, and improvised one-string instruments. They performed in jug bands, quartets, and rural church congregations.

The college had opened itself up to the public for its annual agricultural fair, the "Ham and Egg Show," since 1915, and for an arts festival since 1937. As the Fort Valley student publication The Peachite explained, "The Folk need a Festival of their own; the people do not like to be on exhibition; they have come to the Fort Valley State College Festival because it was their own, and among themselves they felt at home." Bond wrote to Lomax describing the previous year's event:

We made a special effort to find Negro Folk musicians from the surrounding countryside, in fact, from all over the state of Georgia. Among the persons who took part were two very fine string bands, some ten or fifteen guitarists and banjoists and several performers on improvised instruments. We also had a sacred program, in which from six to seven rural church choirs participated.

It is our hope, this year, to reach even a larger number of contestants and to make of this an outstanding feature in which it is one of the few occasions when folk performers are, not only welcome to, but are happy to come to a college campus, to lend emphasis both to our appreciation of their efforts, but also to a greater interest on the part of the general public in the preservation of these materials (letter from H.M. Bond to Alan Lomax, January 9, 1941).

Although Lomax was not able to attend, he arranged for John Wesley Work III of Fisk University to go in his place and make recordings for the Library of Congress. Work was a natural choice; not only had he written a master's thesis at Columbia University titled "American Negro Songs and Spirituals," he represented the third generation of a family of professional musicians, and he was a composer, educator, choral director, and ethnomusicologist. After completing his undergraduate degree at Fisk and graduate work at the Institute of Musical Art in New York City (now the Julliard School of Music), Columbia, and Yale, Work returned to Fisk, where he would stay for the remainder of his career as a teacher, chairman of the Fisk University Department of Music, and director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. In March 1941, Work traveled to Fort Valley and recorded forty-six performances of church congregations, quartets, blues artists, and ballad singers. John Work attempted to record the festival again in 1942, but, due to a variety of technical and weather-related problems, he was unable to do so. That year, he, W. C. Handy, and Willis Lawrence James were the festival's judges.

In the spring of 1943, B. A. Botkin, now assistant-in-charge at the Archive of American Folk Song, requested funds to again record the festival, citing it as a unique opportunity to "forward our war-time program of recording soldiers' songs and other folkloristic and documentary material growing out of the war" (memo by B.A. Botkin, February 25, 1943).

At the suggestion of President Bond, two members of Fort Valley's summer faculty, Lewis Jones and festival director Willis Laurence James, were furnished by the Library of Congress with blank discs and cutting needles. Together Lewis Jones and Willis James recorded seventeen performances between March 5 and 7.

Lewis Jones, a sociologist at Fisk University, had received his undergraduate degree from Fisk. He was a Social Science Research Council Fellow at the University of Chicago in 1931-32, and as a Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellow had received a master's degree from Columbia University. Along with John Work and Charles S. Johnson, he had been involved with a two-year field study of the Mississippi Delta, sponsored by Fisk and the Folk Archive, which resulted in the Library of Congress/Fisk University Mississippi Delta Collection. Focusing on the folk culture of the rapidly urbanizing commercial area of Coahoma County, Mississippi, the field workers recorded secular and religious music, sermons, children's games, jokes, folktales, interviews, and dances. The materials from this field trip in the Library's holdings include 521 manuscript pages, 96 phonographic discs, and 5 minutes and 33 seconds of motion picture footage.

Trained as a concert violinist at Morehouse College and the Chicago Musical College, Willis James taught music at Spelman College in Atlanta and was a member of the summer faculty at Fort Valley from 1941 to 1949. He also was recipient of a Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship and served as director of the festival. As he wrote in a letter to Botkin, "I am very interested in this whole business of Negro songs and I shall be happy to give you and the Library of Congress the benefit of my experiences and musical ability in this field" (letter from Willis James to B.A. Botkin, June 14, 1943).

Once the summer school began that year, James used the recording blanks left over from the spring festival to make new recordings at Fort Valley of songs like Buster Ezell's " Roosevelt and Hitler," the New York, Georgia, Singers's version of "Now What a Time," and Deacon Sam Jackson's " Don't Sit Down," placing special emphasis on the capturing text. In addition, he planned to "take the station wagon and go around in this community and contact various people whom I have in mind and see if I can inspire them to greater efforts in the making of some new war songs. I will also make trips to Columbus, Americus, and Macon with the same idea in mind." Over the course of the summer, he made thirty-four additional recordings, primarily religious songs including a few with wartime themes, such as "Obey Your Ration Laws" and "Soldier Boy Blues, 1943."

The Fort Valley festivals continued until 1955, coming to an end in part because of the changing tastes and interests of the Fort Valley State college students. John Work, Lewis Jones, and Willis James all went on to have successful academic careers.

John Work published articles in professional journals and dictionaries over a span of more than thirty years. His best known articles were "Plantation Meistersingers" in The Musical Quarterly (January 1940), and "Changing Patterns in Negro Folksongs" in the Journal of American Folklore (October 1940). Throughout his career, he completed over one hundred compositions in a variety of musical forms for full orchestra, piano, chamber ensemble, violin, and organ but his largest output was in choral and solo-voice music. He was awarded first prize in the 1946 competition of the Federation of American Composers for his cantata The Singers, and in 1947 he received an award from the National Association of Negro Musicians. In 1963 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Fisk University.

Lewis Jones, following three years' service in the Army, was awarded a doctorate from Columbia University in 1955. Jones spent much of the remainder of his career at Tuskegee Institute School of Education, as assistant professor of sociology, director of research for the Rural Life Council, research coordinator, and professor of sociology. He was a consultant to a variety of organizations, including the Opportunities Industrialization Centers, the Bureau of Social Science Research, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Willis James continued investigating folksongs over the years and was noted for his arrangements of them. His theory that "the cry" was the most distinctive feature of black folksong attracted some attention. He lectured at college campuses, before professional societies, at the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, and at the Roundtables of the Tanglewood music festival. He received awards from the General Education Board and the Carnegie Foundation and in 1955 received an honorary doctorate from Wilberforce University. In April 1966, he lectured at the opening of the Center for the Arts in Lagos, Nigeria. At the time of his death, on December 27, 1966, he left a completed manuscript, "Stars in De Elements," which was published in 1995 as a special issue of the journal Black Sacred Music.

A fortunate convergence of talent and opportunity characterized the work of these three pioneering folk music collectors. Initial beneficiaries of their work were the performers and audience for the Fort Valley Music Festivals, and what a time it must have been for them. Through the National Digital Library, a whole new audience can now share in the heritage they helped to preserve.

Christa Maher holds a master's degree in folklore and ethnology from University College, Cork, Ireland. She is a digital conversion specialist for the National Digital Library


New Online Presentation Features Music from Fort Valley, Georgia, Music Festivals

"Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel and the Fort Valley Music Festival, 1938-1943, consists of approximately one hundred sound recordings, primarily blues and gospel songs, and related documentation from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia. The documentation was created by John Wesley Work III in 1941 and by Lewis Jones and Willis Laurence James in March, June, and July 1943. Also included are recordings made in Tennessee and Alabama (including six Sacred Harp songs) recorded by John Work between September 1938 and 1941. These recording projects were supported by the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk-Song. Song lists made by the collectors, correspondence with the Folk Archive about the trips, and a special issue of the Fort Valley State College student newsletter, The Peachite, Folk Festival Number, are also included. An interesting feature of this collection is the topical rewording of several standard gospel songs to address the wartime concerns of the performers. This online presentation is made possible by the generous support of the Texaco Foundation. To access, go to the American Folklife Center's home page,, then click on "Collections Available Online."


John W. Work III. From The Peachite, March 1944

Map of Peach County, Georgia, with inset map of Georgia. US Census Bureau's TIGER Mapping Service; and MapArt Geopolitical Deluxe CDRom by Cartesia Software (copyright 1998)

Lewis Wade Jones. From The Peachite, March 1944

Willis Laurence James. The Peachite, March 1944




Library of Congress Bicentennial Honors "Living Legends" 84 Named for Contributions to American Society and Culture

"Living Legends" Pete Seeger, Gloria Steinem, and Ralph Stanley, wearing the medals they were presented by the Library of Congress for having achieved distinction in their particular fields of endeavor. The Living Legend award was one of several programs celebrating the Bicentennial of the Library of Congress, April 24, 2000. Photo by David A. Taylor

Three percussionists in the Living Legend honorees tent at the Library's Bicentennial celebration: Tito Puente, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Mickey Hart. Hart served as master of ceremonies for the Bicentennial concert and he and Puente were awarded Living Legend medallions by the Library. This was one of the last performances for Puente, who died in New York City, June 1. He was seventy-seven. Photo by James Hardin

Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys perform on the Bicentennial concert stage, set up on the Capitol grounds, with the Library of Congress's Jefferson Building in the background. Photo by James Hardin

Pete Seeger performs with his grandson Tao Rodriguez.

Anna Lomax Chairetakis at the concert with his father, " Living Legend" Alan Lomax.


Mr. and Mrs. Smith Come to Washington Local Legacies Participants Visit the Nation's Capital

By Audrey Fischer

The nearly 2,000 people who attended the Local Legacies Project reception in the Library's Great Hall on the evening of May 23 were as much a snapshot of America at the beginning of the new millennium as the cultural traditions they documented (see "Local Legacies Come to the Library of Congress," Folklife Center News, spring 2000).

Members of Congress and their staffs, the Library's staff, and participants from all across the country who attended the event some people in ethnic dress formed a tapestry of our multicultural nation at the turn of the century. Diverse musical traditions were represented by the Monumental Brass Quintet, Mariachi Los Amigos, and a klezmer group known as Hot Kugel.

"The Local Legacies Project is the cornerstone of the Bicentennial," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who thanked the 412 members of Congress who recognized the Library's Bicentennial through this unprecedented collaboration of Congress, the Library, and the American people to document the customs, traditions, events, foods, and crafts that are indigenous to their regions. He also thanked the more than 4,000 project participants, many of whom "traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles, from as far away as Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom, to be part of this grand occasion and to recognize this stunning achievement."

"Congress is very proud of our Library, and it's your library, too," said Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library. "I'm so glad to see so many people enjoying this building, the most beautiful building in America," he added.

Participants were invited to Washington on May 22-24 to attend the reception, meet with their congressional representatives, tour the Library's facilities, and see where their project documentation photos, videos, recordings, narrative descriptions is being sorted, arranged, and housed. On all three days, tours were offered of the Thomas Jefferson Building, American Folklife Center, National Digital Library Learning Center, and the Manuscript, Geography and Map, and Rare Book and Special Collections divisions. Some 500 project participants signed up for tours. To unite participants with one another and their members of Congress during the reception, the Great Hall was set up with tables representing each state or group of states. Participants were given the opportunity to have their picture taken in the Members Room with their congressional representative. Many of those who took advantage of this opportunity described it as "a thrill." For some, this was their first trip to the nation's capitol and to the Library of Congress.

Audrey Fischer is a public affairs specialist at the Library of Congress

Photo: Local Legacies participants from all over the country gathered in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress's Jefferson Building for a reception on May 23. Photo by Carl Fleischhauer

Back cover:

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington welcomes Local Legacies project participants to a reception in the Library's Great Hall, May 23. Dr. Billington initiated the project, which invited members of Congress to nominate traditional activities in their states and districts for documentation. See page 8. Photo by Carl Fleischhauer

The Art and Influence of Henry Reed

By Alan Jabbour

James Henry Neel Reed, known as Henry Reed, was born on April 28, 1884, in Monroe County, West Virginia, a rural county lying along the Virginia border in the Appalachian Mountains of southeastern West Virginia. Reed grew up in Monroe County as a member of a large extended family. His father and at least one uncle were musical, and at least two older brothers played music as well. An early photograph reveals him playing banjo with his older brother Josh. But to judge by his stories about his early life and the sources of specific tunes, his early musical influences seem to have come not so much from his immediate family as from the surrounding community.

He spent virtually his entire life in the region where he was born, but he moved around a good deal within it. As a young man he lived for a time in the coal-mining counties of southern West Virginia, but he did not care for work in the mines and eventually came home. For shorter periods he worked as far away as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On December 11, 1907, he married Nettie Ann Virginia Mullins, and they settled in Glen Lyn, Virginia, in Giles County, just across the state line from Monroe County. Glen Lyn is a town built around a coal-fired power plant operated by Appalachian Power Company. The plant lies on the New River, just before the river crosses from Virginia into West Virginia, and it is fueled by coal unloaded from trains that run eastward through the New River Valley from coal-producing areas of West Virginia.

Reed played from time to time for local dances and more often in home music sessions. He was known not only as a fiddler but as a banjoist who finger-picked the banjo with all his fingers and as a harmonica player who could play all the notes of complicated dance tunes on the harmonica. He had a reputation for always welcoming visitors and providing food and a place to sleep as well as good music and good company, and the Reed home became something of a convening place within the Glen Lyn community.

Henry Reed had already retired from a second career at the Celanese Corporation manufacturing plant in Narrows, Virginia, and was living at home in Glen Lyn, when I visited him with my wife, Karen, in 1966. We were then graduate students at Duke University, and I had undertaken a long-term project to record traditional fiddlers in the Upper South. During a fiddlers' convention, West Virginia musician Frank George introduced me to Oscar Wright, a fine older fiddler from Princeton, West Virginia, who played some beautiful old tunes I had never heard before. I subsequently visited Oscar and his son Eugene in Princeton, and when they said that the source of those old tunes, Henry Reed, was still living, I set out that day to track down the man who taught Oscar "Kitchen Girl," "Shady Grove," and "Ducks in the Pond."

In retrospect, it was a life-changing visit, and soon I was back again. When I first appeared in 1966 at Henry Reed's door, I may have thought of myself primarily as a documentarian, but by 1967 I was a pilgrim to Glen Lyn and an apprentice to Henry Reed. Our band in Durham and Chapel Hill, the Hollow Rock String Band, was proudly developing ensemble versions of the tunes I acquired during each new visit to Glen Lyn. In the summer of 1967 the Hollow Rock String Band played at a fiddlers' convention in Narrows, Virginia, and both Henry Reed and Oscar Wright came to enjoy the festival and hear us play. It was perhaps their last best glimpse of what was to come of Henry Reed's music.

In the fall of 1967 I visited Henry Reed again for what turned out to be our last recording session. In January 1968 he was hospitalized for an operation to amputate an injured and infected foot, and a few days later, on February 8, 1968, he died of a blood clot that had lodged in his lung. Nettie survived him by more than a year, passing away on October 20, 1969.

Henry Reed's influence had been primarily local, but a new pattern of influence began with my visits in 1966-67. Our band, the Hollow Rock String Band, performed dozens of tunes that were regularly identified as coming from Henry Reed, making him suddenly a publicly known figure for a wider audience. The band was at the epicenter of a revival of old-time instrumental music that emerged in the Durham/Chapel Hill area in the late 1960s. We played regularly in Durham and Chapel Hill and frequently appeared at old-time fiddlers' conventions, festivals, and other public venues, until the band dissolved with the departure of Bertram Levy and me for California in 1968. In that same year, before our dissolving and not long after Henry Reed's death, a long-playing record of the band was released, The Hollow Rock String Band: Traditional Dance Tunes (Kanawha 311), which contained a number of tunes we had learned from Henry Reed.

Henry Reed tunes are now in wide circulation among younger American fiddlers. Perhaps the most widely circulated of them all is "Over the Waterfall." Though the tune has an interesting history and a number of musical cousins, all contemporary versions of "Over the Waterfall" come from Henry Reed by way of the Hollow Rock String Band and the ubiquitous circulating tapes. It is but one of many cases where Henry Reed was the narrow neck in the hourglass of tradition, through which tunes were guided back out into the wider currents of circulation.

The overwhelming majority of the tunes in Henry Reed's repertory were learned by ear and retained by memory. They are part of folk music tradition that preserves individual melodies in careful detail and calls them up from memory to play again and again. In practicing such a tradition, one thinks of oneself as reproducing tunes largely as one heard them, and the effort to preserve tunes intact is in many cases quite successful. It is possible to trace a number of tunes in Henry Reed's repertory to the late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century in the British Isles or the United States. The Upper South has been as a region less attached to printed music than the northern United States, where tunebooks and manuscripts have flourished since the early nineteenth century. Nevertheless, some Henry Reed tunes can be documented in Virginia in the 1830s, thanks to the existence of George P. Knauff's important collection Virginia Reels (1839), compiled while Knauff was a music master in Farmville, Virginia. The book includes many of the tunes in Henry Reed's repertory.

Memory is central to the fiddling tradition of the Upper South, yet memory alone cannot account for either what was retained or what was changed in Henry Reed's repertory. Creative musical design was a central element in the performance of his music. Henry Reed varied the sensuous surface of the tune both rhythmically and melodically in each rendition. The variation was the result of both unconscious and conscious improvisation, and it had as its motive both the need for instantaneous solutions to the problems caused by preceding variations, and the desire to create a pleasing musical texture that sparkles from subtle change while glowing from the shapely constancy of remembered grace. Thus to praise Henry Reed's art is to pay tribute both to the strength and character of the tradition from which he drew and to his more personal creative accomplishments within the matrix of that tradition. His music is a testimony to his own artistic sensibility and simultaneously to the fertile ferment created by the coming together of the musical imagination of three continents to fashion the fiddle tunes of the old frontier.

Alan Jabbour retired from federal service at the end of last year, after serving for more than two decades as director of the American Folklife Center.

The Henry Reed Fund for Folk Artists

The American Folklife Center seeks donations to establish The Henry Reed Fund for Folk Artists at the Library of Congress. The purpose of the fund is to provide support for initiatives benefitting folk artists and tapping the collections of the American Folklife Center. It also commemorates the important cultural process through which the artistry of people like Henry Reed is shared with younger generations and provides continuing enrichment for our cultural life. Donations are tax deductible. Send checks made payable to the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board (or simply The American Folklife Center) to the Library of Congress, American Folklife Center, 101 Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20540-4610. Please write Henry Reed Fund on the comment line.

New Online Presentation: Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier

Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection is a multi-format ethnographic field collection of traditional fiddle tunes performed by Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia. Recorded by folklorist Alan Jabbour in 1966- 67, when Reed was over eighty years old, the tunes represent the music and evoke the history and spirit of Virginia's Appalachian frontier. Many of the tunes passed back into circulation during the fiddling revival of the later twentieth century. This online collection incorporates 184 original sound recordings, 19 pages of fieldnotes, and 69 musical transcriptions, with descriptive notes on tune histories and musical features. It also includes an essay by Alan Jabbour about Reed's life, art, and influence; a list of related publications; and a glossary of musical terms. To access this presentation, go to the American Folklife Center's Home Page,, then click on "collections available online."


Josh and Henry Reed, about 1903, with Josh on fiddle and Henry, age nineteen, on banjo. Photo courtesy of James Reed

The Reed family home in Glen Lyn, Virginia, November 29, 1975. The Appalachian Power Plant is in the background. Photo by Carl Fleischhauer

Henry Reed with his wife, Nettie Mullins Reed, possibly in Princeton, West Virginia, about 1930. Photo courtesy of Neal Reed

Alan Jabbour interviewing Henry Reed's son Neal at his home in Glen Lyn, Virginia, November 29, 1975. Photo by Carl Fleishhauer

Henry Reed with Bobbie Thompson of the Hollow Rock String Band, Narrows (Virginia) Fiddlers Contest, summer 1967. Photograph by Kit Olson. Courtesy of Jessica Thompson Eustice


At the American Folklife Center

Mary Shepphard Burton of Germantown, Maryland, in front of the hooked rug she has placed on indefinite loan to the American Folklife Center. The rug, entitled "A Chicken in Every Pot," depicts the inauguration of Herbert C. Hoover, March 4, 1929. It is one of a series of rugs, called "Tell Me 'Bout," illustrating moments from her family's history. In this rug, completed in 1996, Mrs. Burton's father is perched in a tree on the Capitol grounds in order to see the inauguration. Photo, June 8, 2000, by James Hardin

Library of Congress Junior Fellows Sondra Smolek and Katie Peebles review materials from the Vance Randolph Collection, one of several they are processing this summer at the Center. Smolek is an undergraduate anthropology major at St. Mary's College in Maryland, and Peebles is a Ph.D. candidate in folklore at Indiana University in Bloomington. The Junior Fellows program offers paid fellowships to students enrolled in or just completing academic programs, with the idea of providing practical experience in the areas of librarianship, archival management, and the care and handling of special format materials. Photo, June 27, 2000, by James Hardin

Larry Polansky, chair, Department of Music, Dartmouth College, recipient of a year 2000 award from the Parsons Fund for Ethnography at the Library of Congress, in the Folklife Reading Room on June 21, listening to recordings made by Alan Lomax in the l930s. Polansky is preparing an edition of Ruth Crawford Seeger's unpublished monograph "The Music of American Folk Song." The monograph is a magnum opus on the philosophy of transcription and the consideration of folk music. But its complexity, length, and intellectual demands precluded its being published as an introduction to John and Alan Lomax's book Our Singing Country, which was the original intention. The manuscript sat for sixty years, known to only a few scholars. Polansky's edition will be published next year by University of Rochester Press, with a preface by Mike, Peggy, and Pete Seeger, and an introduction by Judith Tick, author of the award-winning biography Ruth Crawford Seeger: a Composer's Search for American Music. The Parsons Fund grant supported Polansky's trip to Washington to work with collection materials at the Library of Congress. Photo by James Hardin

Center director Peggy Bulger (left) with Professor Saraswathi Venugopal, head of the Department of Folklore in the School of Tamil Studies at Madurai Kamamraj University, Madurai, India. Professor Venugopal visited the Library of Congress on April 17 and presented an illustrated lecture entitled "Women as Found in Tamil Oral Literature." Photo by James Hardin

Timothy White, editor in chief of Billboard magazine, in the Folklife Reading Room with Center folklife specialist Jennifer Cutting, June 8. White wears archival gloves while examining a rare disc in the Robert Johnson Test Pressing Collection as background research for a "Music To My Ears" column entitled "Time Traveling With Robert Johnson & Son," which appeared in the June 12, 2000, issue of Billboard. Photo by Ann Hoog

American Fiddle Tunes Available on Compact Disc

American Fiddle Tunes, edited by Alan Jabbour and first released by the Library of Congress in 1971, is the pioneering survey of fiddling throughout the United States. The twenty-eight fiddle performances included here are drawn from the thousands of field recordings in the American Folklife Center's Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress. From New England to Wisconsin, from Kentucky to Mississippi, these recordings from the 1930s and 1940s convey the range, energy, and creativity of one of America's most vigorous and enduring folk traditions. This new CD is available from Rounder Records, One Camp Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140;; and from record stores nationwide.



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