The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #143842   Message #3339179
Posted By: John Minear
16-Apr-12 - 03:36 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads in 18th c. America?
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads in 18th c. America?
I want to highly commend the discussion about the reliability of historical information on song origins from the source singers themselves that has been taking place over on Richie's Ballad thread with Jonathan Lighter, Steve Gardham, Brian Peters, and Jim Carroll. It begins here with a suggestion by Jonathan:


It is in the light of this discussion, which is ongoing, that I want to present some information from John Harrington Cox's collection of West Virginia folk songs, including a number of the "Child Ballads". I want to again thank Richie for calling my attention to this collection. This is a good source for demonstrating how source singers "remember" the origins of their songs. Here is a link to Cox's book, published in 1925, although most of the ballads seem to come from a decade or so earlier:

Here is an example of a biographical sketch of one of the ballad singers represented in Cox, named George W. Cunningham of Elkins, West Virginia.

Cox had four ballads from him. Mr. Cunningham's memory sources don't go back as far as some of the others. For instance, he says he learned his version of Child Ballad #4, "Six Kings' Daughters", "shortly after the Civil War from Laban White, Dry Fork." Here is the link for that: