American Negro Folk-Songs

American Negro Folk-Songs

American Negro Folk-Songs

American Negro Folk-Songs

Excerpt

Perhaps a few words are needed about the present collection and how it has been brought together and presented. It was begun in 1915, at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn, Alabama. During the two years of my teaching at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute I collected some songs directly from Negro singers, but the bulk of my songs came from students who had learned them from the Negroes. I added a number, both then and later, from my own recollection. I am indebted also to the manuscripts and memories of a number of my friends, white and colored. My colleague at Alabama Polytechnic, Professor C. C. Certain, gave me an interesting collection of gang work songs, and Mr. and Mrs. J. J. W. Harriss, of Greensboro, North Carolina, enlivened a Christmas vacation for me with songs of an older generation in North Carolina. Among my colored friends I am most indebted to Ed Lloyd, janitor of the apartment house in which I live. With Ed I have swapped songs (the only infallible method of collection) during many a golden afternoon when Ed was supposed to be washing windows or cleaning floors for my wife, and I was supposed to be attending to grave professorial duties. Ed refers to this book, justly, as "our book."

When I left Alabama in 1917, I had collected perhaps one half of the songs in my collection. For the next two years, in Cambridge, Saint Louis, and Maine, my major interests were elsewhere and I added to my collection only sporadically. In 1919 and 1920, however, I collected a considerable number of songs through my students at Trinity College, now Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. The original manuscripts of my Auburn and Trinity collections, together with typed copies, were presented to the Widener Library through Professor Kittredge, who had them bound for preservation. From 1920 to 1927 I have added a few songs to the collection from various sources.

All of the songs were given to me either in manuscript or by word of mouth. In each case I have consistently stressed the point, particularly with students, that I wanted no materials from printed . . .

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