Most of the Archive materials are focused on folklore in America but there are some notable exceptions. Click on specific categories below for details:
Dr. Ruth McNeil was a professor of music at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia and, during the 1940s, she assisted Lloyd G. Carr, professor of biology at Staunton Military College, in the collection of folksongs and ballads in the general area of Staunton. Carr had first begun collecting songs on his trips collecting biological specimens and he asked Dr. McNeil to assist with the musical transcriptions. McNeil retired in May of 1972 with the intention of working on the song materials for possible publication but she died in May 1981 with that intention unfulfilled. Much earlier, Carr had made attempts at publication but they apparently came to naught. The Collection was deposited in the Archive in 1981. It contains over 200 songs and ballads. There are musical transcriptions for most songs but information on date of collection, singer, and specific location is very scarce.
Since September 1971, student papers in Folklore, Folk Medicine, Ethnohistory, and Life History courses taught in the departments of English and Anthropology have been deposited in the Archive. As of January 1, 2001, there are 2,507 papers on file. This collection is an excellent resource for material on Virginia, particularly the several counties surrounding the University, as well as folklore of and about the University itself. The quilt images at the top of this home page are from Archive Paper 1974-116, by Elizabeth O. Gimbel. There are also several hundred additional papers, not included in the number above, which present research on specific ballads and folktales. The Student Collection also includes 1,041 cassette recordings and 159 5-inch and 7-inch reel recordings of material collected in connection with student papers. These tapes include musical material, interviews, tales, life histories, and sundry other items. The student papers and tapes are currently being indexed using an Access database. The papers and cassette tapes are indexed through 2000.
Clivis Harris, born and raised in Albemarle County, has been playing music in this area, as well as such places as Nashville, and Washington, D.C., for more than fifty years. For most of that period Clivis documented himself and his band, "The Virginia Vagabonds," by collecting advertisements, playbills, letters, newspaper articles, and other write-ups and by making recordings of the band and its various members. He has also recorded other musicians locally and afar and he has made tape recordings of scarce older LP and 78rpm recordings. Out of his extensive collections Clivis has presented the Archive with five looseleaf binders of photographs, playbills, and other manuscript material and 121 casette recordings of the music of local musicians and others. Mr. Harris's collection constitutes an incredibly rich documentation of the Albemarle County musical scene and its development on the past half century.
Gerald E. Parsons Jr. was for many years reference librarian in the Archive of Folk Culture, Library of Congress. He was also a longtime friend of the Perdue family and a patron of the Kevin Barry Perdue Archive of Traditional Culture. Upon his pre-mature death in 1995, the Archive was the recipient of his personal papers, 391 books on folklore and anthropology, and 137 LP recordings of, primarily, traditional material. The recordings and books have been made part of the general collection of such items in the Archive. The textual material consists of about 17 linear feet of field notes, manuscript material, and published articles and papers associated with various topics that Gerry had worked on or researched. This material has not been inventoried and indexed.
Dr. Edward Henry Winter, late faculty member of the Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, did most of his field work in Uganda, Africa, producing the acclaimed Beyond the Mountains of the Moon: The Lives of Four Africans in 1959. His papers consist of about 15 linear feet of field notes and other manuscript material associated with his African research, and a number of student papers done in his classes. Also included are 72 tape recordings which have been indexed in a very preliminary way as follows: 27 reels of material from the Irawqa people living near Nairobi, Kenya; 8 tape cassettes of the Iraqwa; 28 reels of (apparently) African speakers, most in English; and 18 reels of recorded letters between Edward Winter and his graduate students, most of whom were in the field in Africa.
Dr. Edwin E. Erickson, late member of the faculty of the Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, worked on the cantometrics project with Alan Lomax at Columbia University and he did ethnomusicological research in South America. Following his death, his widow, Stella Erickson, donated 87 books and reports, and 53 reels and 3 cassettes of tape recorded material to the Archive. Some of the books are of a general anthropological nature but many are focused on Erickson's interest in Latin America. The recorded material has been roughly indexed as follows: 10 reels and 1 cassette of mostly musical material from Bolivia; 3 reels from the Andes; 4 reels from Peru; 1 reel labeled Oceania; 1 reel of Ethiopian material; 1 reel of African material; 2 reels of Gullah stories; 1 reel labeled Blues and Native American; 7 reels of a recorded History of Rock and Roll; 12 reels and 2 cassettes of Classical music and miscellaneous material, including some personal home recordings made by Erickson; and 11 reels of musical material from the Cantometrics Project.
The Virginia Writers' Project of the Work Projects' Administration was one of several New Deal programs created in the 1930s to get professional and white color workers off the relief rolls. Collecting folklore and folksongs in Virginia was one of the activities of the Writers' Project. The Archive has microfilm copies of the approximately 2,250 original manuscript items of folklore on deposit in Special Collections, Alderman Library, University of Virginia. An annotated listing of the folklore material has been prepared and is available in the Archive, as well as in Special Collections.
The original 2,732 song texts collected in Virginia are also on deposit in Special Collections. The Archive has Xerox copies of these texts and has prepared a database listing of the songs with pertinent information about them, as a step toward getting them catalogued and indexed.
In 1932, Professor Arthur Kyle Davis, under the auspices of the Virginia Folklore society and with the cooperation of its members, acquired a recording machine and recorded 363 folksongs from 67 traditional singers. The original aluminum disks on which these recordings were made are housed with the Folklore Society's holdings in Special Collections, Alderman Library, University of Virginia. These disks have been copied to 10-inch preservation tapes and cassette copies have been made for listening purposes. The preservation tapes and cassettes are housed in the Kevin Barry Perdue Archive. Also included with this material are 15 songs recorded in 1948 and 1961 by Society member, Fred Knobloch. There are a number of items recorded by Professor Davis of songs and comments by various University of Virginia faculty members and students while testing the recording machine and/or while making informal recordings in a party context.
The Kevin Barry Perdue Archive has 350 78 rpm records of, primarily, early "country" and "race" music. Given the fragile nature of these 78 recordings access is restricted and they will not normally be played. Many of them have been copied to tape recordings which are available.
The Archive also has 464 LP recordings, primarily, from black and white traditional musicians. The number of LPs in various categories is as follows: Anthologies of Black and White Material = 24; Black/Sacred = 28; Black/Secular = 101; White/Sacred = 15; White/Secular = 207; British Isles = 22; Cajun and Zydeco = 7; Ethnic/Miscellaneous = 27; Jazz and Ragtime = 10; Prose Genres/All = 9; Miscellaneous : Classical, Popular, or other Genres = 16.
The total number of books currently available for research in the Archive is estimated to be about 4,000. Of this number, 753 are owned by the Archive, having been donated by Gerald E. Parsons, Kay L. Cothran, Stella E. Erickson, and Suzanne M. Mathieu. The remainder are privately owned by Charles L. Perdue and Nancy J. Martin-Perdue.
The Archive owns partial runs of several folklore and related journals, the largest being 166 issues of the Journal of American Folklore, published between 1909 and 1970 and formerly owned by Edward Sapir; donated by Dr. J. David Sapir. The earlier issues are restricted from use until they can be properly bound and preserved.
The Archive houses an uncounted number of journal articles, offprints, reprints, working papers, etc., catalogued under the various genres of folklore or by subject matter. In addition, newsletters and other information from various organizations have been filed over the years by state or name of organization and now fill four vertical file drawers.
There are 22 video cassettes of various subjects in the Archive; some produced by students as part of a research project. They may be viewed in the Archive.
At present only two artifacts are owned by the Archive: a carved wooden African game board from pre-1910, donated by William H. Emory; and a Marxophone (musical instrument similar to an autoharp) donated by Holly and Russell Brear.
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