Authors : Carl Fleischhauer and Alan Jabbour
“Carl Fleischhauer and I first became acquainted with the Hammons family in 1970. Since then we have visited them regularly, though not as often as we should like, and at some point in our acquaintance it dawned upon us that a full-length study of the family which brought together recordings, print, and photography, and which combined music, lore, oral history, documentary historical research, and general cultural reflections, offered us the best means at our disposal for conveying publicly something of the profound impact the family has had upon us. The Hammonses, who likewise bear a profound respect for the traditions which nurtured them, have encouraged and assisted us at every stage of the project. We should like to express here our gratitude to them for all they have given us.
The study of the history and traditions of a single family, though rarely pursued in American folklore research, has proved exceptionally stimulating. The family unit is important anywhere, but in the case of the Hammonses it weighs even more heavily in the balance with community influences, for the family has been migratory since its arrival upon the early frontier some 175 years ago, rarely staying in one place for even a generation. Following the trail of the family over several generations could not be accomplished exclusively through documentary sources, so we have meshed documentary evidence with the family’s own oral history. The oral stories and the printed documents complemented each other nicely, enabling us both to determine many facts of the family’s peregrinations and to understand better the present generation’s view of the past and its significance”
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