Ballads and Songs of Indiana

Ballads and Songs of Indiana

Ballads and Songs of Indiana

Ballads and Songs of Indiana

Excerpt

The present attempt at a comprehensive and systematic collecting of Indiana folksong had its inception four years ago in an assignment to an English Literature class of mine in Oakland City High School. Members of the group, which was at the time studying some of the English and Scottish ballads, were asked to make a search for texts and fragments of similar songs known to their parents, grandparents, or other relatives. Each student was furnished a mimeographed sheet of song titles and opening lines or stanzas, and was cautioned against accepting songs of late date and songs obviously derived from the printed page.

Frankly, I had little hope that anything of value would be recovered as a result of this hunt for songs. I knew, of course, that ballads had been sung in the state and that a few specimens had appeared in the columns of the Journal of American FolkLore and elsewhere, but felt, in common with most other students of folksong, that Indiana was a rather sterile field for the song collector. Imagine my surprise, not to say delight, when during the next week some half-dozen valuable songs were brought in, among them some fragments, sadly corrupted but recognizable, of two Child ballads!

Encouraged by this initial success, we enlisted the aid of students in other English classes, first explaining carefully what kind of song was desired, and giving each student a list of titles and opening lines and also full instructions as to the data to be obtained from each contributor. A letter of explanation to Mr. J. Roy Strickland, of Owensville, secured for our undertaking much helpful publicity in his PARAGRAPHY column in the Evansville Courier; and, as Mr. Strickland was at that time president of the Southern Indiana McGuffey Club, he was largely instrumental in interesting members of that organization in what was being attempted.

Publicity in the columns of the Courier was followed by editorials, feature stories, and commendatory articles in the Evans ville Press . . .

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