The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2855294
Posted By: John Minear
03-Mar-10 - 04:32 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Categories of Multiple Attestation, Part I

Published Collections - by date of publication. Examples would be Sharp, Terry, Whall, etc. I don't have access to all of these collections, but to many of them and to the contents of others. I don't promise to be a hundred percent thorough, but I will be as comprehensive as possible. How many and which collections contain a given chanty? Are they earlier or later or is the chanty spread over all of them?

By itself, this category can only tell us how often a chanty was collected after about 1880. But was it collected only once or over ten times? The more often it shows up, the more information we can gain about it.

Published Mention - by date of publication. This category is a little different from that of the collections. Here I would include the various magazine articles as well as mention made in travel accounts, fiction, letters, newspaper stories, etc. Examples would be Nordhoff, Olmstead, Gosse, Alden, etc. Hopefully this category will push us further back into the 19th century for some of these chanties. This category should begin to give us more of a geographical and chronological spread. It will also give us whatever firm historical dating that we may find.

Historical Informants - by estimated dates of when they were at sea or when they could have heard or sung these chanties. Examples would be Dick Maitland, Harding, Joanna Colcord, Hugill, Mr. Short, etc. While the dating of these informants is not always exact and the accounts are usually based on memory rather than written documents, this category does push the information gained in the "Collections" category a bit further back into the 19th century. It also gives us some geographical and chronological spread.

Use & Function - with some effort to trace historical development. How many different uses did a particular chanty serve throughout its history? Did it begin as a cotton-stowing song, and become a halyard chanty and then a capstan chanty or a pumping chanty? This category can give us a sense of how a work song evolved functionally throughout its lifetime. And perhaps use can point to some hints about location and time frames.