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Mary Celestia Parler    Papers, 1950-1980

Manuscript Collection 1501

Mary Celestia Parler in Oriole Barber Shop
Mary Celestia Parler tape recording Fred C. Smith and unidentified
musician in Oriole Barber 
Shop, Bentonville, Arkansas, ca 1950s. 
Photo from Mary Celestia Parler Photographs, MC 896.


Mary Celestia Parler was born in 1904, in Wedgefield, South Carolina. She came to University of Arkansas in 1948 as an associate professor of English, specializing in the works of Chaucer. In 1949, she participated in the formation of the Arkansas Folklore Society with John Gould Fletcher and Vance Randolph, whom she later married. Also that year she developed the university's curriculum for Arkansas folklore and became the director of the University of Arkansas Folklore Research Project. During the next fifteen years, she along with her students amassed a collection of over 3,000 audio recordings of folksong and tales. Aside from the audio collection, now known as the Mary Celestia Parler Ozark Folksong Collection, she also produced twelve volumes of adjectival comparisons, proverbs, riddles, beliefs and superstitions, and ballads taken from over sixty-thousand note cards which she collected from her students during her twenty-six year career at the university. She also published a compilation entitled Arkansas Ballet Book, taken from songs found in the folksong collection in 1963. 1981.

Dr. Leo Van Scyoc is a professor of English at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He worked with Mary Celestia Parler and aided in the preparation of her notes for the University Folklore Collection.


Papers include teaching and research  materials, class  reports, and  other documentation collected by Mary Celestia Parler-Randolph, of the Department of English, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in the course of her work with Ozark folklore, especially Ozark folksong. These materials were donated to Special Collections by Dr. Leo Van Scyoc, of the U of A Department of English. These materials were originally housed in the Department of English, as part of the Folklore Research Project files. The material was used to compile the twelve volumes of Arkansas Folklore in Special Collections that cover proverbs, riddles, beliefs, superstitions, as well as ballads contained in what is now known as the Mary Celestia Parler Ozark Folksong Collection.

This collection contains professional correspondence, style sheets, and drafts of the bound non-song materials in the University Folklore Collection, audio recordings, class notes, student reports, photographs, and index cards pertaining to organization of the collection and contact organizations and individuals.

RESTRICTIONS APPLY.  In some cases, performances and other material in the collection are protected by copyright and may not be used without permission.

Processed by Rachel Reynolds, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas, in April 2003.


Series 1. Professional Correspondence and Linguistic Reports and Correspondence  (Boxes 1-2)
Series 2. Manuscripts and Notes  (Box 3)
Series 3. "Arkansas Ballet Book" (Box 3)
Series 4. Instructions and Contents to Non-Song Material (Box 3)
Series 5. Student Reports (Box 4)
Series 6. Preliminary Materials for the Non-Song material in the University Folklore Collection (Box 5)
Series 7. Reel-to-Reel tapes (Box 5)
Series 8. Index Cards Boxes (6-8)
Series 9. Lyrical Transcriptions (Box 9)
Series 10. Folklore Journal Issues (Box 9)
Series 11. Publications Concerning the University of Arkansas Folklore Research Project (Box 9)
Series 12. Photographs (Box 9)
Series 13. Drawings and Portraits Box 9.
Series 14. Artifacts Box 10.

Series 1.  Professional Correspondence and Linguistic Reports and Correspondence (Boxes 1-2)

Series 1 contains professional correspondence of Mary Celestia Parler and Vance Randolph. Correspondents include Wayland Hand, Ethel Simpson, and Leo Van Scyoc regarding index cards of Ms. Parler's. The series also includes Linguistic Reports filled out by informants and distributed through home demonstration agents of the Cooperative Extension Service. Some correspondence is also contained within the Linguistic Reports.

Box 1

 1.  Miscellaneous Professional Correspondence 1958, 1973,1983.
 2.   Linguistic Reports, Ashley County, Arkansas.
 3.   Linguistic Report, Baxter County, Arkansas, 1959.
 4.   Linguistic Reports, Benton County, Arkansas.
 5.   Linguistic Reports, Boone County, Arkansas.
 6.   Linguistic Report, Carroll County, Arkansas.
 7.   Linguistic Reports, Cleburne County, Arkansas.
 8.   Linguistic Report, Columbia County, Arkansas.
 9.   Linguistic Report, Decatur County, Arkansas.
 10.   Linguistic Reports, Garland County, Arkansas.
 11.   Linguistic Report, Grant County, Arkansas.
 12.   Linguistic Reports, Hempstead County, Arkansas.
 13.   Linguistic Report, Jackson County, Arkansas.
 14.   Linguistic Reports, Johnson County, Arkansas.
 15.   Linguistic Report, Lafayette County, Arkansas.
 16.   Linguistic Report, Little River County, Arkansas.
 17.   Linguistic Report, Lonoke County, Arkansas.
 18.   Linguistic Reports, Madison County, Arkansas.
 19.   Linguistic Report, Marion County, Arkansas.
 20.   Linguistic Report, Miller County, Arkansas.
 21.   Linguistic Report, Mississippi County, Arkansas.
 22    Linguistic Report, Newton County, Arkansas.
 23.   Linguistic Report, Ouachita County, Arkansas.

Box 2

 1.   Linguistic Report, Perry County, Arkansas.
 2.   Linguistic Report, Poinsett County, Arkansas.
 3.   Linguistic Report, Pulaski County, Arkansas.
 4.   Linguistic Reports, Sebastian County, Arkansas.
 5.   Linguistic Report, Sevier County, Arkansas.
 6.   Linguistic Reports, Union County, Arkansas.
 7.   Linguistic Reports, Washington County, Arkansas.
 8.   Linguistic Reports, Washington County, Arkansas.
 9.   Linguistic Reports, Washington County, Arkansas.
 10.   Linguistic Report, Yell County, Arkansas.
 11.   Linguistic Report, Woodbury County, Iowa.
 12.   Linguistic Report, Webster Parish, Louisiana.
 13.   Linguistic Reports, Barry County, Missouri.
 14.   Linguistic Report, Dunklin County, Missouri.
 15.   Linguistic Report, Wilbarger County, Texas.
 16.   Unidentified Linguistic Reports

Series 2.  Manuscripts and Notes (Box 3)

This series contains Mary Celestia Parler's research notes on Chaucer, notes on Victorian poetry, transcribed articles and lyrics on "Billy Barlow," its variations, and lyrical comparisons between versions. Also included is one of Parler's Folklore Bibliographies.

Box 3

 1. Notes on Chaucer
 2. Lyrical Comparisons and Transcriptions
 3. Notes and Bibliography

Series 3.  Arkansas Ballet Book (Box 3)

This series contains Mary Celestia Parler's stylistic instructions for Arkansas Ballet Book, her only published work. This compilation of ballads was taken from songs that Mary Parler collected for the University of Arkansas Folklore Research Project 1949-1965. It also contains the original bibliography, preface, and two copies of the original manuscript.

Box 3 (cont'd)

 4.  Bibliography, preface, and style instructions
 5.  Manuscript, Arkansas Ballet Book
 6.  Manuscript, Arkansas Ballet Book

Series 4.  Non-Song Material (Box 3)

This series contains handwritten notes by Mary Celestia Parler on her style instruction for the layout of the non-song materials in the University Folklore Collection, her listing of contents, and the content addendum..

Box 3 (con'td)

 7.   Notes, contents, addendum, style sheets and instructions
 8.   Carbons of Ch. XXII- Miscellaneous Puns

Series 5.  Student Reports (Box 4)

This series contains reports collected from Mary Celestia Parler's students in her Arkansas Folklore Class at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, [1956-1972]. The reports are arranged by topic. These reports are included in the general finding aid for student reports.

Box 4

 1.   Book Reports
 2.   Reports on Games
 3.   Reports on Games
 4.   Report on Games
 5.   Report on Games
 6.   Report on Games
 7.   Reports on Recipes
 8.   Report on Recipes
 9.   Report on Recipes
 10.   Report on Remedies
 11.   Report on Remedies
 12.   Reports on Remedies
 13.   Report on News
 14.   Report on Auction
 15.   Report on Folklore Convention
 16.   Report on Jackson County
 17.   Report on Mrs. Jim Campbell
 18.   Report on Jessie McConnico
 19.   Transcribed letters and diaries
 20.   Miscellaneous Reports

Series 6.  Preliminary Material for University Folklore Collection (Box 5)

The contents of this series pertain to the non-song portions of the University Folklore Collection. There are examples of riddles and dialect or adjectival comparisons, as well as two sets of note cards, assigned and unassigned numbers, that are discussed in the correspondence in Series 1.

Box 5

 1.   Riddles
 2.   Dialect
 3.   Unassigned note cards
 4.   Assigned note cards

Series 7.  Reel-to-Reel Tapes - song material (Box 5)

This series contains audio tape of Ozark folksong and Ozark versions of ancient balladry from the English and Scottish traditions. Performers include: Almeda Riddle, Jimmie Morris, Absie Morrison, Evelyn Skaggs, Max Hunter, Lula Davis, Fred Smith, Fred High, Mary Briscoe, and other Ozark performers [1949-1965]. Dimensions refer to the size of the tape reels. Also included is the operating manual for the tape recorder used to collect some of the material.

Box 5 (cont'd)

 5.   Untitled Reel- 7"
 6.   Child I- 7"
 7.   Child II- 7"
 8.   Ballad Seminar- 7"
 9.   Jimmie Morris, Mrs. Skaggs, Absie Morrison- 5"
 10.   Almeda Riddle- 5"
 11.   Untitled Reel- 5"
 12.   Wollansak T-1500 operating manual

Series 8.  Index Cards (Boxes 6-8)

This series is a collection of index cards. One set is sorted by informant of a given folksong and includes the title of the song and the date on which it was recorded. Along with the informant cards is also a set of bibliography note cards listing the University of Arkansas' holdings on folklore [1949-1975]. The second group of cards  is by song title. Where no local title was given, the first line of the song is used as the title. Along with the title cards are a section containing Child Ballads collected in the University Folklore Collection. The last grouping is contact information for members of the Arkansas Folklore Society [1949-1958].

Box 6

 1. Informant and Bibliography Notes

Box 7

 1.   Title and Child Ballad Notes

Box 8

 1.   Arkansas Folklore Society Notes

Series 9.  Lyrical Transcriptions (Box 9)

This series contains lyrical transcriptions of songs collected in the University Folklore Collection. They were used as educational materials for Mary Celestia Parler's Arkansas folklore class.

Box 9

 1. Lyrical Transcriptions

Series 10.  Folklore Journal Issues (Box 9)

This series contains various issues of Ozark Folklore and Arkansas Folklore. Mary Celestia Parler was a founding member of the Arkansas Folklore Society, which created these publications and served as secretary treasurer and archivist for the organization.

Box 9 (cont'd)

 2.   Ozark Folklore and Arkansas Folklore [1951-1958]

Series 11.  Publications (Box 9)

This series contains published articles citing  the University Folklore Research Project, under the direction of Mary Celestia Parler, including articles from The Antioch Alumni Bulletin, 1958, and a reprint from the Arkansas Alumnus, 1958.

Box 9 (cont'd)

 3.   Publications

Series 12.  Photographs (Box 9)

This series contains photographs of Mary Celestia Parler, Vance Randolph, and various colleagues and friends, 1914-1973, annotated by Vance Randolph.

Box 9 (cont'd)

 4.   Photographs of Vance Randolph and Mary Celestia Parler-Randolph, 1950-1973.
 5.   Photographs of Vance Randolph in Fayetteville, AR, 1957-1971.
 6.   Photographs of Vance Randolph in Eureka Springs, AR, [1940-1950].
 7.   Photographs of Vance Randolph and typist Madge Pyatt, Eureka Springs, AR, 1953.
 8.   Photographs of Vance Randolph and various interviewers, Eureka Springs, AR, 1949-1958.
 9.   Photographs, Early Vance Randolph and Family, Galena and Pineville, MO, and Pittsburg, KS, 1925-1935.
 10.   Photographs of folklore conference in Bloomington, IN, 1958.
 11.   Miscellaneous Photographs, [1914-1970].
 12.   Photo Negatives

Series 13.  Drawings and Portraits (Box 9)

Contained in this series are two portraits of Vance Randolph, one credited to Fred Lewis, 1940, and one credited to Jon Kennedy, 1950.

Box 9 (cont'd)

 12.   Portraits and Drawings of Vance Randolph, Bonniebrook, MO, and Eureka Springs, AR, 1940, 1950.

Series 14.  Artifacts (Box 10)

This series contains representatives of material culture collected in Mary Celestia Parler's Arkansas Folklore class, materials used by Ms. Parler in the University Folklore Research Project, awards she received, and sheet music that was written in dedication of one of her informants, Milton Battles.

Box 10 (cont'd)

 13. Artifacts

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