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Folklore and Popular Culture

Folklore research materials have been collected by the University Libraries from early in their history. Thanks in part to a number of dedicated professional and amateur collectors and promoters of Ozark folk material, Special Collections has a large and rich array of oral, musical, and written material documenting the life, arts, crafts, and stories of the region.

The following list of collections provides only an introduction to the holdings in the division which may related to this topic. Please consult the University of Arkansas Libraries' online catalog, InfoLinks, or contact Special Collections to obtain the latest information about additional holdings.

Vance Randolph

Vance Randolph (1892-1980) was the foremost student of Ozark life and was elected a Fellow of the American Folklore Society in 1978. He published many popular and scholarly works, including many Little Blue Books and some juvenile fiction. His major work is collected in the four-volume Ozark Folk Songs. Vance Randolph married Mary Celestia Parler in 1962. Vance Randolph: An Ozark Life, by Robert Cochran, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1985.

Vance Randolph Collection. Certificates, notebook, and published articles 1918-1980 (MC 1009). (98 items) Collection consists of certificates and awards pertaining to the public and private life of Vance Randolph; a typescript notebook and other notes dealing with folk sayings and greetings; published articles of and about Randolph; and clippings and photographs.

Vance Randolph Manuscripts, 1951, 1954, [n.d.] (MC 920). Manuscripts by Vance Randolph, 1892-1980, of I Have Not Forgotten (Stories from the Ozarks), [n.d.]; Ozark Speech (2 vols.) in collaboration with George P. Wilson, 1951; and Pissing in the Snow, 1954.

Ozark Folksong Transcripts: Lyric and Melodic Transcriptions of Ozark Folksongs, 1926-1950 (MC 952). (2 linear ft) First series contains mainly text transcriptions of songs from Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri collected and annotated by Vance Randolph between 1926-1950. Second series contains transcriptions of folksongs recorded, transcribed, and annotated by Vance Randolph. The recordings were made for the Library of Congress in southern Missouri and northwest Arkansas between 1941 and 1943 and are deposited in the Library of Congress. The transcriptions, including many melodic musical transcriptions using traditional notation, are not found at the Library of Congress.

"The Songs Grandfather Sang," 1927, 1930 (MS R15s 303). (12 items) Typewritten transcripts of the contents of Randolph's column, "The Songs Grandfather Sang, " in 12 issues (Feb. 18, Mar. 4, 11, 18, 25, Apr. 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6, 20, 1927 and Feb. 25, 1930) of The Pineville Democrat.

Robert Cochran Collection: Vance Randolph Research Materials. Letters, Photocopies, Photographs, and other research materials, 1865-1980 (MC 818). (.6 linear ft.) Correspondence, photocopies, documents, and 35 identified photographs and drawings of Randolph, his family, and his acquaintances.

*Further correspondence between Randolph and various colleagues and acquaintances can be found in the following manuscript collections:

E. Joan Wilson Miller Papers: Correspondence with Vance Randolph, [1962]-1977 (MC 820). (7 items) Copies of letters and questionnaires from Miller to Randolph and letters from Randolph pertaining to Ozark folklore and place names.

John Gould Fletcher Collection 1881-1960 (MC MS F63). Correspondence.

Charles J. Finger Papers: Correspondence, Diaries, and Manuscripts, 1893-1987 (MC 639). Correspondence.

John Park Cravens Papers: Correspondence and Papers, 1881-1967 (MC 3). Correspondence.

Edgar A. Albin Papers: Correspondence, Newspaper Columns, and Other Materials, 1921-1986 (MC 623). Correspondence.

Walter John Lemke Papers, 1821-1969 (MC MS L541). Correspondence.

Mary Celestia Parler

Mary Celestia Parler (1904-1981) taught folklore and other courses in the Department of English at the University of Arkansas from 1948 to 1975. During her career she collected and managed the folk song collection and also gathered a vast quantity of non-song materials on Ozark lives, riddles, proverbs, beliefs, and superstitions that were compiled into twenty-one volumes held in Special Collections. Her students contributed more than thirty linear feet of reports on many topics of Ozark culture All these materials were donated by Miss Parler to the University Libraries beginning in 1965, where they have been managed and preserved ever since. She was a founder of the Arkansas Folklore Society in 1950 and served on its board with the poet John Gould Fletcher, collectors Vance Randolph and Otto Ernest Rayburn, and performers Booth Campbell and Doney Hammontree. Mary Celestia Parler married Vance Randolph in 1962.

Folklore Collection 1949-1992. The University Folklore Collection was the result of the University of Arkansas Folklore Research Project under the direction of Mary Celestia Parler, professor of English 1949-1975. It contains 3,640 sound recordings 1949-1965 (MS F1-30) and lyrical transcriptions (MS F2), about 820 class reports 1958-1992 (MS F.16). Additions to MS F.16 were made by Dr. Robert Cochran, professor of English, 1976- .

Mary Celestia Parler Papers (MC 1501). (6 linear feet) Correspondence, photographs, class reports, sound recordings, contact listings, and manuscript copies of "An Arkansas Ballet Book."

Mary Celestia Parler Photographs: Ozark Folklore Photographs, 1950s (MC 896). (32 items) Photographs of Ozark folk musicians including Booth Campbell, Fred High, Mary Jo Davis, and others as well as photographs of Mary Celestia Parler in the field and in the classroom.

Mary Celestia Parler Randolph Scrapbook, ca. 1920 (MC 897). Clippings of newspaper columns, book reviews, and articles, some authored by Mary Celestia Parler [Randolph], 1904-1981; most written by her mother, Josie Platt Parler, of Wedgefield, SC.

Mary Celestia Parler taught a class in Arkansas Folklore 1949-1975. From the field work of her students, she compiled 18 unpublished typescript volumes and donated them to the University Libraries as part of the University Folklore Collection. Circulation copies are also available in MAIN.

Ballads and Songs in the University of Arkansas Folklore Archives: A Syllabus, edited by Mary Celestia Parler, 1960 (MC MS F20), unpublished (1 vol.). Ballads and Songs includes a separate listing for 'Child' ballads.

Proverbs from Arkansas: Adjectival Comparisons, Collected by University Students, 1961 (MC MS F26.1), (1 vol.).

Proverbs from Arkansas: Maxims: Collected by University Students, 1962- (MC MS F26.2), (3 vols.).

Riddles from Arkansas: Collected by University Students, 1962 (MC  MS  F28), (1 vol.).

More Riddles from Arkansas: Collected by University Students, 1962 (MC MS F28.1),(1 vol.).

Folk Beliefs from Arkansas: Collected by University Students, 1962 (MC MS F30), (11 vol.).

Randolph, Mary Celestia Parler. Vertical File. Articles, newspaper clippings, and correspondence. References to Mary Celestia Parler Randolph's life and work.

Otto Ernest Rayburn

Otto Ernest Rayburn (1891-1960) was a writer, schoolteacher, and promoter for thirty years in the Ozarks, as the title ofhis memoir states. He published magazines and books celebrating theregion and yearned to preserve and extend what he saw as "the pureAnglo-Saxon culture" of the region. He wanted scholars and thepublic to have access to his research materials, and arranged for themto come to the University Libraries.

Otto Ernest Rayburn Papers 1916-1960 (MC MS R19). (1473 items) The bulk of the collection is The Ozark Folk Encyclopedia, 229 folders containing Rayburn's working files of clippings, notes, letters, photographs, etc., arranged in alphabetical order. Some material was compiled by Rayburn into book form: Bibliographies of his works and of other writing on the Ozarks; Enchanted Ozarks, in 3 volumes, "folkways and customs, actual events, and traditional folklore;" Ozark Folks and Folklore; Survey of Ozark Superstitions, in 2 volumes; Ozark Sketchbook; a compilation of his verse. Way Back Yonder, copies of a published newspaper column by Rayburn.. The collection also includes correspondence, scrapbooks, pictures, Book reviews and comments on his works Forty Years in the Ozarks and Ozark Country. The University Libraries acquired Rayburn's extensive personal library of Ozark print materials, which were classified and integrated into the Arkansas and circulating book collections.

Kingston, Arkansas Collection 1917-1931: photocopies of published material and Photographs, 1917-1931 (MC 1215). (.3 linear ft.) The collection contains photocopies of selected articles pertaining to Kingston, published in the Brick Church Life magazine, 1920-1929; a booklet "100% American: The War Story of a Country Church," by Elmer J. Bouher; photocopies of articles by Rayburn; and other printed material. It also contains photographs of the Kingston Community Church and the nationally known "A Country Life Project," as well as "The Kingsplan."

Ethel Simpson, former archivist with the Special Collections Department, worked on the Rayburn collection for many years and knows the ins and outs of it, and a great deal about the man himself. Beginning in October, 2005, Simpson selected a subject under each letter in turn through the alphabet and read Rayburn's entry for it in the Encyclopedia for Ozarks at Large, an original program broadcast by KUAF radio, the University of Arkansas affiliate of National Public Radio. The audio files from these broadcasts are available on our web site.

Folklore Periodicals

Arkansas Folklore 1950-1958 (v.1-8). A publication of the Ozark Folklore Society. Vance Randolph and Mary Celestia Parler were founding members of the Society (1950) and the publication was created on the recommendation of Mary Celestia Parler. The two served on the board of the society in various positions over the years. Contents pertain to both the academic and popular views of Ozark folklife.

Arkansas Folklore 1977-1979 (Oct. 1977, Jan., July 1978, Jan. Apr. 1979). Continues Arkansas Folklore; published by the Arkansas Folklore Society, 1950-1958.

Mid-South Folklore 1973-1978 (v.1-6). A scholarly journal of the folklife of the Southern states and Middle West. Mid-South Folklore vol. 3, no. 3, is entitled "Special Issue for Vance Randolph."

Mid-America Folklore 1979- (v.7- ). A former publication of Ozark States Folklore Society and the English Department, Southwest Missouri State University and the Regional Culture Center, Arkansas College (1979-1982); issues for Fall 1990-1998 were published by the Mid-America Folklore Society and Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas, and the Kansas Folklore Society. Currently a publication of Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Mid-America Folklore is a continuation of Mid-South Folklore.

Missouri Folklore Society Journal 1979- (v.1- ). A scholarly journal of the folklife of Missouri and the Ozark regional culture. V.4 1982 is a special issue devoted to the work of Vance Randolph and Mary Celestia Parler-Randolph, containing the recollections of Max Hunter, for whom the Randolphs served as mentors.

Arcadian Life: A Monthly Magazine of Folklore and Homespun Philosophy 1933-1938 (v. 1-34). A publication of Otto Ernest Rayburn: Sulphur Springs, Texas. Content dedicated to the Ozark Mountain region.

Rayburn's Arcadian Life: A Journal of the Well-Flavored Earth 1934-1936 (v. 1-23). A publication of Otto Ernest Rayburn: Sulphur Springs, Texas.
*The title changed from Arcadian Life to Rayburn's Arcadian Life (1934), then back to Arcadian Life (1936).

Arcadian Life Magazine 1938-1943 (v. 35-55). A publication of Otto Ernest Rayburn: Caddo Gap, Arkansas. A continuation of Arcadian Life.

Rayburn's Ozark Guide 1943-1960 (v.1-66). A publication of Otto Ernest Rayburn: Lonsdale, Arkansas. "Everything about the Ozarks of Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma." Published quarterly, July/Sept. 1944-1966; bimonthly, July/Aug. 1943-May/June 1944.

Ozark Guide Yearbook 1961-1966. A publication of Gerald H. Pipes: Reed Spring, Missouri. A continuation of Rayburn's Ozark Guide.

The Ozarks Mountaineer 1954- (v. 3- ). Devoted to the culture of the Ozark Mountains region.

Other Collections

Mary Susan High Casey Brisco. "The Story of My Life" (MS B774). (1 item) Manuscript text (138 p.) and typed transcript (70 p.) of autobiographical sketch, dated Mar.3, 1954, by Berryville, folk singer whose sound recordings are a part of the University Folklore Collection. Collection also includes a 8" by 10" glossy print portrait of Mrs. Brisco.

Booth Campbell Scrapbook: Verses and Articles 1954 (MC 1392).(1 folder) Collection contains writing and verse by Booth Campbell, folk singer and native of Cane Hill, Arkansas, and articles collected about him.

Emma Dusenbury, one of the foremost singers of Anglo-American folk songs, is represented in the University Libraries by copies of recordings made in the 1930s by collectors who visited her on her farm near Mena. User copies of these recordings are held in the Performing Arts and Media Department.

Blanche Hanks Elliott Papers: Papers, 1911-1990 (MC 1272). (6linear ft.) Papers document Blanche Hanks Elliott's association with M.E. Oliver, Edsel Ford, Ernie Deane, Clay M. Anderson, David Pryor, Orval Faubus, and a number of War Eagle Fair artisans (1950s-1980s) and persons in cooperative extension work in Arkansas (1920s-1930s). Organizations represented include: Benton County Rug Weavers, Northwest Arkansas Headwaters, Washington County Farm Women's Market, Ozark Council of Arts and Crafts Fair Association. Her collections of clipping sand printed material include: Benton and Washington County history, Northwest Arkansas agriculture and rural life, descriptions of crafts and artisans, particularly involving weaving, sculpture,basket making, doll making, quilting, and wood carving. Materials about the organization of and activities of the War Eagle Fair, the Back-in-the-Hills Antique Show and Collectors Fair,and the Ozarks Arts and Crafts Seminars are included.

Thomas Gibbs Ballads and Story: Folk Ballads and Stories 1914 (MC 443). (1 item) "When I Started A Courting," "The Old Fox," "Missouri Girls," "Southern Soldiers," and two untitled songs (words only) handwritten by Thomas Gibbs, Whiterock Church, Farmington, Arkansas. Also the story of 1836 frontier life as told by Gibbs's great-grandmother.

Susannah Handy. "Folklore for Children" [n. d.] (MS H19). (18 p.) Riddles, rhymes, proverbial sayings, with original hand-drawn illustrations. Additional class report for Arkansas Folklore, Mary Celestia Parler, instructor.

Mary D. Hudgins Arkansas Music Collection: Manuscript and Printed Arkansiana 1800-1986 (MC 534). (55 linear ft.) Biographical material, writing and research material, topical manuscript collections, pictures, and maps. Mary Hudgins was an active member of the Arkansas Folklore Society and avid collector of Arkansiana. Hudgins also collaborated with Vance Randolph.

Lida W. Pyles Papers: Papers and Photographs 1948-1986 (MC 722). Collection contains papers concerning the Ozark Writers and Artists Guild, materials about the Ozark Creative Writers, Inc., and a collection of photographs of Pyles and Cora Pinkley Call of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and the Ozark Writers and Artists Guild, and the Ozark Creative Writers,Inc. Included is a photocopy of Sense and Nonsense in Verse and her newspaper articles.

Vernacular Architecture of Arkansas: Photographs by Geoff Winningham: Photographs 1980-1981 (MC 1188). This photographic essay consists of black and white photographs of residences, churches, stores,cabins, garages, barns, businesses, outhouses, and bridges.Also included is the portfolio Of the Soil, Six Classics of Arkansas' Vernacular Architecture, photographs by Geoff Winningham.

Wright, C. D. The Lost Roads Project: A Walk-in Book of Arkansas [1994](1891-1960). (1 portfolio ([21] broadsides) Poetry and Prose,issued in the form of broadsides.

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Last updated: August 24, 2015