On the trail of Negro Folk-Songs

Posted: November 21, 2012 in American Folk lore, Dorothy Scarborough, History

Author: Dorothy Scarborough

Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1925


Dorothy Scarborough, January 27, 1878–November 7, 1935

Dorothy Scarborough, a native Texan, spent several childhood years in Sweetwater, but lived most of her career in New York, yet all seven of her novels were set in Texas. She was however not only a novelist but also a respected folklorist. She called herself a “song catcher.” She believed radio threatened the survival of folk songs, and she traveled around the Appalachian Mountains recording centuries-old ballads with a hand-powered Dictaphone. Scarborough believed these folk songs told stories about a community’s values and its collective history.

Novelist, folklorist, a catcher of songs, Dorothy Scarborough took inspiration from America’s regional cultures and, in doing so, preserved the creative expressions of ordinary people from times past. In “On the trail of Negro Folk-Songs” she combines scholarship and entertainment to tell the story about the difficulties and pleasures of a ten-year ballad search among the Negroes of Texas and other Southern States.  The book is a valuable witness of her keen interest in the lore of the Negro, and a must have for any serious student on the subject.

(see also: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsc01)


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