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Biography Helen Hartness Flanders (1890-1972)

Helen Hartness Flanders circa 1948. Middlebury College – Flanders Collection. Photograph by John Henderson Studios.

Born May 19, 1890, in Springfield, Vermont, Helen Hartness Flanders was an accomplished poet, musician, and collector of traditional music and song. She recorded thousands of songs, ballads, dance tunes, and fiddle tunes, mostly from New England traditional performers. Flanders began collecting folksongs in 1930 for the Vermont Commission of Country Life and her association with the Library of Congress began later that year when she consulted with the Library’s first folksong collector and archivist, Robert W. Gordon. She was a member of the National Committee of the National Folk Festival Association and vice president of the Folksong Society of the Northeast. Flanders received an honorary M.A. from Middlebury College in 1942. In 1966, the Vermont House of Representatives added Flanders’s name to the state’s Roll of Distinction in the Arts. She wrote extensively–a regular column on ballads for the Springfield Sunday Union and Republican (Massachusetts) during the 1930s, and books including Vermont Folk-Songs and Ballads (1931), A Garland of Green Mountain Song (1934), The New Green Mountain Songster: Traditional Folk Songs of Vermont (1939), Ballads Migrant in Vermont (1953), and Ancient Ballads Traditionally Sung in New England (4 volumes, 1960-65). She died on May 23, 1972.

Selected Works at the Library of Congress