The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #143842   Message #3322221
Posted By: John Minear
13-Mar-12 - 09:39 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads in 18th c. America?
Subject: Origins: Child Ballads in 18th c. America?
Does anyone know of any documentation or manuscript evidence for any of the "Child Ballads" in the 1700s in America? After having spent a good deal of time on looking at "The Demon Lover"/"The House Carpenter" (#243) in New England, we were not able to find any written documentation for the ballad in the Northeast prior to the Andrews/De Marsan broadside of 1858/1860. I am not aware of any written documentation for this ballad earlier than this for anywhere else in America. Here is the link for that discussion:


In relation to some other research I am doing, I began to wonder about the rest of the ballads in the Child Collection. Can any of them be dated in America prior to the middle of the 1800's with any written documentation?

I realize that the commonly accepted theory for the presence of these "old ballads and love songs" in America is that for the most part they probably "came over" with the Scots-Irish, along with some of the English from certain parts of England and some from Scotland. About 200,000 Scots-Irish came to the Colonies - mostly to Philadelphia - between 1710 and 1775. Following the American Revolution, from 1783-1812, another 100,000 Scots-Irish came to America, and another half-million came between 1815 and 1845. The question is, can we document the arrival of these ballads with that first wave of immigrants, or with the second wave, or did they in fact not get here until the third wave between 1815 and 1845?

Are there records of family traditions that document the earlier arrival of these ballads? I'm thinking of places like the Beech Mountain and Sodom Laurel communities in North Carolina.

Please understand that I am not saying that these ballads did not arrive before the middle of the 1800s. I'm just wondering if we can actually document that they did in any way. Bronson does a good job of giving the historical dates for the tunes that he has collected for these ballads. I haven't begun to look at all of this material, but a very casual glance suggests that his tunes either come from an earlier period in the British Isles, or from the second half of the 1800s in America. Is there anything in between in America?

If I have somehow missed this discussion on Mudcat, please point me in the proper direction and let's not rehash it. Thanks. J.