Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

From the Archives

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

From the Archives

Article excerpt

Folklore Collections at the University of Arkansas

THE MAJOR OZARK MOUNTAIN FOLK SONG ARCHIVE, collected fifty years ago at the University of Arkansas, was the subject of a conference this past November in Fayetteville, sponsored by the Special Collections department of the University Libraries. Entitled "A Collector in Her Own Right: Reassessing Mary Celestia Parler's Contribution to Ozark Folklore," the meeting aimed at renewing interest in Parler, a member of the university's English department, and in the 3,640 field recordings of songs that she and her students collected on tape, chiefly in the Arkansas Ozarks, between 1949 and 1965. The age of the collection makes preservation of the tapes an important concern for the libraries, and one session of the conference focused on issues related to digitization, access, and funding. In addition, those attending the conference heard biographical and critical assessments of Parler's life, her professional achievements, and her performance as a teacher.

The Parler folk song collection, one of the largest of its kind in the country, is part of a still larger archive, the University of Arkansas Folklore Research Project. In addition to the song recordings and lyrical transcriptions, the papers of the project include more than eight hundred class reports, in which students wrote down superstitions, games, proverbs, genealogy, local history, or other information gathered in their field work. Parler compiled the information from these reports into a massive collection of eighteen typescript volumes.

In addition to the folklore collections compiled by Parler and her students, Special Collections holds other resources on this subject. …

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