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How reliable is Folk History ?

Greenie 27 May 18 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Modette 27 May 18 - 12:01 PM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 11:24 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 May 18 - 10:07 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 May 18 - 10:03 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 10:03 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 09:32 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 09:20 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 09:09 AM
Steve Gardham 27 May 18 - 09:05 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 08:17 AM
GUEST,Boom etc 27 May 18 - 08:04 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 07:58 AM
Greenie 27 May 18 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Boom Boom Boom Boom 27 May 18 - 07:20 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 05:15 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 04:48 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 27 May 18 - 04:20 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 04:09 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 May 18 - 03:32 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 03:20 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 May 18 - 03:05 AM
DMcG 27 May 18 - 03:05 AM
GUEST,paperback 27 May 18 - 12:58 AM
rich-joy 26 May 18 - 09:13 PM
rich-joy 26 May 18 - 08:54 PM
Steve Gardham 26 May 18 - 02:15 PM
Jim Carroll 26 May 18 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 26 May 18 - 05:20 AM
David Carter (UK) 26 May 18 - 04:31 AM
Jim Carroll 26 May 18 - 04:15 AM
Jim Carroll 26 May 18 - 04:12 AM
David Carter (UK) 26 May 18 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 May 18 - 08:51 PM
Steve Gardham 25 May 18 - 04:19 PM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,Some bloke 25 May 18 - 02:59 PM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 02:42 PM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 02:02 PM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 May 18 - 04:37 AM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 03:55 AM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 03:46 AM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 03:44 AM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 02:55 AM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 02:45 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 25 May 18 - 02:20 AM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 02:11 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 May 18 - 12:39 AM
GUEST,paperback 24 May 18 - 10:04 PM
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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Greenie
Date: 27 May 18 - 12:52 PM

Modette,

He did indeed, in 1961.

I did, of course, mean "The Nature of History", happy to be corrected.

Greenie


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 27 May 18 - 12:01 PM

Surely EH Carr wrote 'What is History?', Greenie?

Dr. Modette (History academic)


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 11:24 AM

"but you raised the subject of our WW1 history debate, a"
Not as adiscussion point Keith, just as an example of the misuse of history
Hope we can move on now
Greenie
Thanks for your input - I'm happy to accept your "source for rather than history" definition - I was interested in your "go away and read some right-wing history" anecdote; it seems to confirm the subjectivity of history.
I think the main problem with discussing Irish history is that much of it was never really documented and a great deal that was was actively suppressed
It has always amazed me that unitl a century and a half after the event Ireland's greatest tragedy, The Famine, was covered by only one serious study, by Englishwoman, Mrs Cecil Woodham Smith, an English Graduate who became a formidable self-trained historian.   
THere are a few works of fiction and some references (largely in passing) in general history books, but up to the 1990s no other concentrated study.
Living in a County badly effected by the Famine, we were subjected to many dozens of local stories, my favourite being about the 'body which rolled off a 'dead cart' on its way up to the cemetry
The corpse rolled into the gutter outside the blacksmith's shop, where it was discovered to be alive - the man spent twenty odd years working as a blacksmith's assistant   
In the absence of any documented information - is that a piece of history?
THe famine wasn't documented for political reasons - the English Establishment wasn't proud of how they handled it and the later independent Irish Government didn't want to close of a place to send their emigrants by upsetting the neighbours
The Leitrim situation was similar in that the landowners had a free had to behave as they wished and they controlled the courts and the press, so most of the information of his behaviour is recorded only in the dozen or so songs that were made about him
The Famine was also recorded orally - Few songs, if any, were made between 1845 and 1850, but many hundreds were made in the later years, largely on the effects of the famine rather than the tragedy itself.
This is one of those

Far far from the isle of the holy and grand
Where wild oxen fatten and brave men are banned.
All lonely, alone, in a far distant strand
Do I wander and pine for poor Éireann.

Chorus:
Lonely and sad I roam, far from my island home,
Where the wild waves, surging foam, headlands appearing.
Clouded in silver spray, flashing through heaven's bright ray
For the glory and pride lovely Éireann.

Sweet, sweet Inis Cathaig the sacred, the blessed,
A fit place for a saint or a warrior's rest.
Your sentinel towers left each storm request
Your mourning waves wail for my Éireann.

How oft have I wandered by Shannon’s great floods,
And paused as I gazed where the mighty wood stood.
Oh God, that’s the ? should be best of the brood
Who now lights your beauty, my Erin.

Chorus:
Lonely and sad I roam, far from my island home,
Where the wild waves, surging foam, headlands appearing.
Clouded in silver spray, flashing through heaven's bright ray
For the glory and pride lovely Éireann.

How dearly I longed, for to wander once more
To the loved ones I left at my old cabin door.
My blessings I’ll give them a thousand times o’er,
And a prayer and a tear for poor Éireann.

There is nothing now left, holy isle, but thy name,
The ruin of thy glory, thy grandeur, thy fame.
For foreign laws sealed thy sorrow and pain,
Which now cause thy anguish, my Éireann.

Chorus:
Lonely and sad I roam, far from my island home,
Where the wild waves, surging foam, headlands appearing.
Clouded in silver spray, flashing through heaven's bright ray
For the glory and pride lovely Éireann.


Sad, sad is my fate in this weary exile
Dark, dark is the night cloud, oh lone Shanakyle.
Where the murdered sleep silently pile upon pile
In the coffinless graves of poor Erin.

I’m watching and praying through the length of the night,
For the grey dawn of freedom the signal to find.
My rifle is ready, my sabre is bright,
For to strike once again for poor Éireann.

"The song was thought to have been lost until it was recorded by Tom Munnelly from ‘Straighty’ in the mid-1970s. Shanakyle (in Irish, ‘Seana Chill’) is the site of a graveyard outside Kilrush; Inis Cathaigh is St. Senan's Island, also known as Scattery Island, on the Shannon. Three thousand, nine hundred people died in the workhouse in Kilrush during the three years 1847-49, most of whom were buried in a mass grave in Shanakyle Graveyard. Lone Shanakyle was written by Thomas Madigan of Carnacalla, Kilrush (1797-1881) who was a scholar and poet, writing in both English and Irish. It was probably written during the 1860s, the last verse being inspired by the expected Fenian Rising."
LISTEN HERE
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 May 18 - 10:07 AM

And indeed Keith, they are excellent songs. Not historically accurate, but then that wasn't their purpose.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 May 18 - 10:03 AM

Bogle, though he set his songs in a WWI context, was really writing for the Vietnam War generation. And although its not my country, I know enough Australians of my generation and what they thought to believe that he captured their mood.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 10:03 AM

Sorry to be a pest Jim, but you raised the subject of our WW1 history debate, and I was repeatedly referred to by name in the subsequent discussion you had with Dave.
I was entitled to put the record straight.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 09:32 AM

Unless peoplple ccome up with some traditional songs on World War One, can they please go and re-fight it elsewhere
It has no place here
I'm delighted at Greenie's contribution - everything I wanted to happen to this thread
Back later - hopefully when the pest has gone
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 09:20 AM

"Folk History" does agree with Steve, and we all know some of the excellent songs by Bogle and others that purport to speak for that WW1 generation, but do not.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 09:09 AM

Steve, if you read the history of the war you will find that your views are not supported by any historian.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 May 18 - 09:05 AM

'the support of the people' through propaganda spread by the politicians via the biased media, just like today in fact. Little changes!

'the British army was generally well led'. Neat pun! Was the Navy led by admirable admirals? Purely a matter of opinion. I don't think those fellows going over the top to their doom thought that, or their relatives. I think 'Blackadder' was closer to the truth than the propaganda of the time.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 08:17 AM

That is what consensus means Boom, or have you yet found an academic historian who disputes those claims?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Boom etc
Date: 27 May 18 - 08:04 AM

Consensus?   A climb down from “all” I suppose.

It’s popular to write the sort of history Gove wanted for school text books a few years ago. When a government asks for a more “patriotic” revision, it’s time to worry.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 07:58 AM

Jim and Boom ,
I formed my views by reading history.
On the issues I defended, that the war had the support of the people and that the British army was generally well led, there is a consensus among current historians.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Greenie
Date: 27 May 18 - 07:25 AM

I don't post much. I joined Mudcat primarily to learn, not to offer opinions on subjects I know nothing about. I am very new to the Folk music scene and several of you here have been very kind and generous to me. So before reading can you all accept that this is offered with respect, please?

There seems to be some confusion here as to what "History" is.

I am (or rather, was) a Historian. I was in academia for many years. I am aware, if not fully cognisant, of my biases; as were the majority my colleagues.

Following my interview for Oxford (I was turned down!), I was told to go away and read some right-wing history. I did and I still came to many of the same conclusions.

Back in the 1970s, Arthur Marwick wrote a book called "What is History?" and I don't believe it has been bettered. He was very critical of the historians who had preceded him (in much the same way as many of you here) and he set new standards for my generation. It is precised here:

What is History?

If anyone does bother to read the above link, please pay particular attention to "9. The Arts as Sources"

The Lord Leitrim song at the head of this thread is not History of any kind (not Folk, not Oral); it is a SOURCE for History.

It might well be an accurate portrayal of what happened. Equally, it might be a piece of propaganda of the kind that seems to dominate today's social media as 'fake news' or gets spouted by a Daily Mail reader on a Friday night after too many lagers.*

The pursuit of History helps us to discover which it is more likely to be.

A half-decent Historian would read as many published histories of the period as possible. S/he would critically assess hundreds, thousands, of other sources, before attempting to draw any conclusions. All this in full knowledge that some documents might turn up in the future which could totally contradict those conclusions; ideally, being delighted if they did because it all contributes to our knowledge.

"Ideally"? Yes, we're only human. Spending hundreds of fruitless hours digging away in archives only to be presented with a slip of paper that refutes your entire argument can challenge the stoutest of egos. But all History is 'work in progress'.

'Conversation' is an important part of the process and I don't know many historians who wouldn't welcome informed input from the likes of Steve Gardham or Jim Carroll.

Of course, there are people out there (such as David Irving) who will ignore the evidence that contradicts their point of view and it's part of life in modern society to be able to spot these charlatans. But what they write is not History.

History is not a "record of what actually happened", it is the process of getting as close to what actually happened as we can through the slow accretion of knowledge.

Greenie


*Did you spot my bias there?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Boom Boom Boom Boom
Date: 27 May 18 - 07:20 AM

Jim or Keith... Whose standard do I run towards? Difficult under any circumstances.

Most of those posting on this thread seem to grasp it. Song reflects the thoughts of those experiencing the subject. The Rufford Poachers were heroes to the original singer of the song, yet the records show that many people in Edwinstowe tipped off the authorities. Songs glorifying fox hunting might not resonate with the smallholders whose crops were ridden over.

WW1? Plenty of information demonstrating how populism and jingoism led millions to an early grave, hastened by the donkeys leading the lions. Although I think the revisionists let the mask slip when Max Hastings defended shooting our own men for cowardice.

I hope Jim enjoyed that last paragraph. I pulled my trousers up to my tits specially as I wrote it.

zzzzz


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 05:15 AM

Taker your lost arguments elsewhere Keith
they have no place here
Are you trying to get this thread closed?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 04:48 AM

Britain was not intending to join the war between empires.
It went to war over the invasion of Belgium, with the overwhelming support of the people.

I quoted numerous historians in support of my views, and no-one could find a single living academic historian who contradicted my views.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 27 May 18 - 04:20 AM

“Creosote dumps” and all the rest isn't amateur or professional anything. It's just gossip. THere wasn't an attempt at history.

Shanties I would file under pseudo-scholarship.

The hard science on how not to jerk things around at work would fill a medium-sized library. Lifts, cranes, hull design; banking tracks race & rail; sorting your left from right-handed snail? There's an equation for that.

But in a century+ of study, there is no body of naval science, metrology or engineering on shanties to date. Still checking tho. The naval history, devoid of the Reformation, celeusma, locomotive lecture &c &c &c and/or a clear scope - "needs improvement" to meet accurate or reliable.

Etymology, mercy me, we got.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 04:09 AM

"But I think you are confusing history, which is the record of what actually happened, with political philosophy."
No - I am saying that all hisr=torians who publish do so from a philosophial point of view
"but Keith is an amateur, every bit a folk historian"
Keith -is not a historian in any shape or form - cut-'n-pasting arguments that suit pre-formed attitudes is not what history is about
What Keith does is equivalent to my recording only songs that please me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 May 18 - 03:32 AM

No, I am not discounting oral history, I am saying that historians have to assess this evidence and its reliability alongside other records. It certainly helps to establish the provenance if the evidence was written down at the time (e.g. Parish records).

Your earlier arguments were with Keith, who most certainly has an agenda, but Keith is an amateur, every bit a folk historian. And Keith in that argument was trying to say that all historians agreed on stuff which in the journal articles would be subject of debate. Consider what the historians say, not what Keith says they say.

But I think you are confusing history, which is the record of what actually happened, with political philosophy. People who write historical books tend to mix these, if not confuse them. They are not so mixed in journal articles, even by the same people.

So WWI was "a battle between empires" - quite evidently true. "To divide the world", there we diverge from historical fact and touch on questions of motivation, which are much harder to be definite about. And motivations for different individuals would have been different.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 03:20 AM

It seems to me that anybody that anybody who takes an aactive part in any discipline, history, music... whatever, does so because the subject interests them personally, which implies that they bring to their subjects pre-formed opinions and pre-gained knowledge
Some time ago I became involved in some heave arguments about World War One - it became as grueling as a bad day in the trnches
I came to the subject as a left-leaning humanist who ha done a great deal of serious political reading on early twentieth century political history - I believed, and still do, that the war was a battle between Empires to divide up the world.
I began to dip into serious historical works to check on some of the facts being thrown about and I found that the historians I was reading were approaching the subject in the same way - they brought to the subject their own personal philosophies, the result being that they produced unique works based on an analysis of the events filtered through their own personal biases - different conclusions - some for the war, but just as many against.
In the end, you need to examine the information to hand and make up your own mind
On this particular occasion I had the advantage of being able to throw in a half-donen tapes worth of interview we recorded from a veteran who has lied about his age and enlisted to fight in the tranches - an added batch of information that none of the historians appeared to have had access to.
Is my opinion any less valid than any of those I had read?
This argument started about the behaviour of an English Landlord who was was widely notorious for his ruthless treatment of his tenants and who was operating in a situation where he not only held the power of life and death over those under him, but also, because of his position, he was answerable to no-one
In this situation, local information, in the form of songs, local stories, family information, parish records... are virtually all we have to go on.
The two historians that have been mentioned are sharply divided; one appears to believe that here is a sound foundation for his appalling reputation, the other believes the sun shone out of his backside
So much for your unassailable historical view.
I really can't see the problem here - if you are discounting oral history as "biased", you are ignoring important evidence.
For me, that is what folk history is - evidence
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 May 18 - 03:05 AM

Well rich-joy, indeed lots has been written up. In the UK for instance in the copious documentation on the submissions and outcomes of the Research Excellence Framework. Sure, not everyone in any given profession is trustworthy, but the vast majority are. Your argument is depressingly similar to those used by creationists and climate change deniers.

Please re-read your post, and particularly the quote from Jim. The first word is "All". Do you still agree with Jim's quote?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: DMcG
Date: 27 May 18 - 03:05 AM


Sorry DtG, yes it is mostly what you said, but I did feel that when you wrote "dry tome in a mainstream bookshop", you were intending that phrase to be a bit pejorative. Those "dry tomes" are fundamental studies of events. and it is what happened that I want to know, not what people felt about it.


I am very late to this discussion, and I would not contradict what was said there, but it is important to remember the authors of the 'dry tome' are themselves in a specific time and place and subject to often unrecognised attitudes that influence the research.

Which is why you can take almost any historical subject - let's say the English Civil War as an example - and find that new aspects of it can be found every few years even at this distance in time. The same source documents are used, but their relative importance and interpretation changes. So while these academic treatises do give an account of events, it can never be 'the' account.


Long may it remain so!

As to folk songs in particular, I think most posters have it right, they are a view onto how some people understood events. Contemporary accounts definitely, but later songs also: a 1950's song about a 1888 event tells us how some people in the 1950's thought, but little about 1888.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 27 May 18 - 12:58 AM

All past documentation of history...

If you don't want to end up like Snowden, Richard Thieme suggests: "the only way to tell the truth is in fiction".

This may not only be true now but in the past also, (though Richard appears to be 'on' something).

Yet, the telling of the everyday life of just regular folk you really don't need to lie, just exaggerate.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: rich-joy
Date: 26 May 18 - 09:13 PM

Yes, yes, and even "by those more learned than I"!! :))
R-J


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: rich-joy
Date: 26 May 18 - 08:54 PM

Re DC at 4.31am :
"All past documentation of history came with an agenda and quite often the writing of history eually comes with their own agendas" :

"This is the kind of statement Jim which loses you support and sympathy. History isn't my subject ...... "


Sorry, but No, it isn't. I for one, agree with that statement from Jim.

Would that ALL academics, scientists, public servants et al, were worthy of the trust and respect in which you appear to hold them, David.
Sadly, events on Planet Earth in recent years, thanks to the courage of whistle-blowers and other forms of exposé etc, have often shown otherwise.....

Just MHO of course.
R-J

.... and please don't bother now asking me to supply evidence to all that. It's all out there; it's all been written up before, by those more learned than me.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 May 18 - 02:15 PM

David,
My 'subject' is folksong and its history, that is folksong as set out by the '54' descriptors, not the wider sense mostly used here, but obviously also includes all of the genres that overlap.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 May 18 - 05:37 AM

"I rest my case m'lud"
What case - have you actually said anything of the subject
I've said all I intend to on the elitist approach to history -
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 26 May 18 - 05:20 AM

I rest my case m'lud


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 26 May 18 - 04:31 AM

"All past documentation of history came with an agenda and quite often the writing of history eually comes with their own agendas"

This is the kind of statement Jim which loses you support and sympathy. History isn't my subject, Astrophysics is, and it really annoys me when ignorant people (such as creationists) accuse all astrophysicists of having an agenda. But this is what you are doing to academics in history, some of whom I know and respect.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 May 18 - 04:15 AM

Sorry
That last was addressed to our man in the shadows "some Bloke"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 May 18 - 04:12 AM

"Now I just wonder where they got that linkage from?"
And I wonder where you got yours from - it sounds like a political establishment issued document to me, and given the history under discussion, that would be heavily influenced be Senator Joe McCarthy who decided what information was or was not permissible every bit as his counterpart in th USSR
I grew up with an interest in History; my family background and my love of song took me to Ireland where I found the two went hand in hand
Ireland's history is recorded in songs made by the people who also made their history and played an active part in changing its course
Ireland's written history is full of deliberate gaps and still locked up archive, as is the case with every former subject nation
I mentioned the Easter Week Executions earlier - Britain has a 'Thirty Year Rule' on disclosure of historical information, yet a century later there is no access to the proceedings that led to those executions.
I also mentioned The Belgian Congo and the destruction of all documentation following the collapse of Emperor Leopold's Lethal Enterprises
All past documentation of history came with an agenda and quite often the writing of history eually comes with their own agendas
For instance, we have numerous contradictory histories of The Miner's Strike
To understand that historical event you have to pick your way through them all and make up your own mind - if you have a shred of fairness in you, you go and ask the miners as well.
That goes for every aspect of oral culture I have ever been involved in - I have not gone with my own agenda and imposed it on what we collected, but have attempted to record the opinions of those who were generous enough to give us their time and information, and everything they had to say is documented and on record (and freely available, where possible - difficult in Britain, where what 'ordinary people' have to say is of no great interest to our 'betters' or by our trained experts.
People like Charles Parker, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger blasted the media wide open with eight hour-long radio programmes based on the people's voices - after the eighth, the BBC got cold feet and silenced those voices
For me - it is what they had to ay that is the essence of our history - not the often heavily agenda driven professional writings of trained historins
"Our history's got a hole in it", as the song should have said
"Now I just wonder where they got that linkage from?"
As usiual, you reduce these discussions to ill-manned and somewhat cowardly slanging
I don't know who you are, you choose to write from the safety of anonymity
Anybody interested enough can go listen to our work - it's pretty well archived and available
I don't know everything - I don't know very much; but I have spent a lot of time asking people who know far more than I do and trying to pass on what they have to say
Please stop behaving like a schoolyard bully - it really doesn't impress and it certainly doesn't help with the sharing of ideas
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 26 May 18 - 03:54 AM

What do you mean by your subject Steve? Genuine question, do you consider your subject to be music or folklore?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 May 18 - 08:51 PM

Me: Having your "roots in fact" is not the same as reliable or accurate fact
JC: Nobody has suggested it is...

Au contrair. This thread is doing it in both type I&II fashion:

Joe incorrectly accepts fiction (Steinbeck) as nonfiction.

Sandman incorrectly rejects fiction (Shakespeare) as nonfiction.

Fiction can't be accepted or rejected to the standard of nonfiction. Wrong metrics.

Fwiw: When I got paid to write it was technical - food, drug, and nuclear grade nonfiction. Manufacturer's instruction manuals at the bottom and the Code of Federal Regs. at the top of a pyramid of knowledge and every stone audited to a schedule. Continuous improvement was the norm. “Creosote dumps” harumpf -

The phrase (grapes of wrath) also appears at the end of chapter 25 in Steinbeck's book, which describes the purposeful destruction of food to keep the price high:

    [A]nd in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
” ['Grapes' wiki]

Now I just wonder where they got that linkage from?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 May 18 - 04:19 PM

I frequently co-operate and discourse with academics, and indeed supply some of them with specialist information, having spent a long time studying the minutiae of the subject. There are several points that might be relevant here. Just as there are relatively isolated scholars beavering away for decades, who occasionally get things wrong, there are academics in quite high places who do so as well.


We also need to take into account that our subject is very understudied and undervalued for various reasons, and academics and scholars in the subject are indeed few and far between, particularly in the UK. In fact I would go as far as to say the UK is arguably the poorest represented country in the First World in our subject.


Peer review is indeed very valuable, when it works, particularly in subjects that are heavily studied. However internal politics in our institutions often come into play, for instance, where a leading professor presents the fruits of some theorising, and lesser mortals have to be careful what they criticise.


I don't wish to name any names, but several years ago a professor wrote a book on our subject that contained some ground-breaking assertions. At first the book received rave reviews, mainly because he was highly respected in his own faculty and in the genre in general. It was a few years later that other academics began to pull his theses to pieces and showed how inaccurate they were.


Independent scholars have their own agendas (Bert Lloyd?), but so do academics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:16 PM

I would not comment on making field recordings or dismiss those who made these recordings as operating with an agenda. So Jim, I suggest you do not do the same to academics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:59 PM

As ever, an interesting topic but because Jim thinks nobody knows as much as he does, every view other than his is ridiculed.

Some excellent contributions on this thread. Just try to ignore the silly irrelevant waffle from Prof Carroll trying to put you down.

A pity because his knowledge is fairly good, just his lack of appreciation for the knowledge of others that's off-putting

Sigh


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:42 PM

"If not I suggest that you are in no position to comment on peer review."
How bleedin' elitist is that!!!
Go and find one of your desk-jockeys who has spent thirty to forty years in the field interviewing the people who lived in the areas where these events took place and who absorbed the stories from their forebears
A large number of these recordings are now part of the British Library Collection and in the next few months will be housed at Limerick University for future generations to be 'misinformed'
Academic snobbery really does get up my nose
I've spent best part of a lifetime pursuing this information because I enjoy doing so - not because somebody pays me to do it
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:02 PM

Have you ever held an academic position Jim? If not I suggest that you are in no position to comment on peer review.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 04:44 AM

"Having your "roots in fact" is not the same as reliable or accurate fact"
Nobody has suggested it is - as I said, itdepends on the research put into the subject
Attempting to separate the two is insane
David "peers" are as likely to have their own agendas when judging the works of others as are those who made songs
I take it that we're finished with the nonsense of made matches being "uncorroborated"
All this is exr=temely unhelpful and unproductive
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 May 18 - 04:37 AM

Me: Fiction is, by choice and by design, the opposite of fact.

Jim Carrol: Utter nonsense. The best of fiction has its roots in fact.


Fiction is the antonym of fact in every standard reference I own. You?

Having your "roots in fact" is not the same as reliable or accurate fact. It just means the parts not rooted in fact are fiction and until somebody sorts fact from fiction the whole of it is adulterated. It's an unknown. Maybe it is, maybe it ain't.

The fiction process does not produce nonfiction and it is the process that makes the product reliable. The fiction author has few obligations. The fiction process does not require reliability or accuracy. It's optional, sentence by sentence.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:55 AM

And example of where historians do disagree because of the varied reliability of the contemporary sources is the Battle of Brunanburh. There is general agreement on who the protagonists were, and that there was great slaughter, and that in some sense Aethelstan "won". But what there is no agreement on is the site of the battle, and this is because the main documentary source, the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, is silent on the issue. Now there will be articles in scholarly journals from historians proposing, providing evidence for and against, various sites. And that evidence will be weighed up, but none of those historians will say that they have the definite answer. This is scholarly debate, not disagreement, it is part of the process by which facts are established, and in this case the prime fact has not yet been established.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:46 AM

"Neither can many historians"

I think that depends upon where they are writing, and who for. If they are writing a scholarly article in a peer reviewed journal, they will stick to verifiable facts, here there is less disagreement, although possibly still some as there will be differences as they will afford different weight to different sources. If they are writing a book they they are not subject to such rigorous peer review, and they will overlay the facts with their interpretation, which may have some bias. This is where you get the statement that historians disagree with issues such as who won a particular war, or caused it, which is a meaningless proposition anyway. The facts are that the war happened and that certain numbers of people were killed and that territory was gained or lost. If they are writing in a newspaper, and historians do do this although most articles on history in newspapers are written by journalists, then the bias they overlay may be slanted towards the editorial stance of the particular newspaper.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:44 AM

"None of this is corroborated, and the first sentence can't be. "
Of course it is corroborated
Arranged marriages for financial convenience were a fact of life in rural Ireland were common occurrences up to comparatively recently - we have met a number of people who were one half of "made matches"
The practice generated generations of 'matchmakers' who were recognised as craftsmen in bringing couples together - the now 160 year old Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival commemorates a fair held annually where local farmers would come in annually to look for a wife
The Travelling Community carried on the practice of matchmaking at least up tho the sixties, when they moved wholesale into urban areas - and even beyond that
Sorry - I didn't realise I was dealing with such a greenhorn in Irish affairs - will try to bear it in mind
The practice of trading off eligible daughters in order to expand your land holdings has been a part of the oral tradition at least as far back as 'Tiftie's Annie'
As far as the factual history of the practice - we have our own dear Royal family as a shining example of marriage for empowerment
Shakespeare is probably the worst example here - he never attempted to depict history as it was, but used it as a backdrop to examine the human condition - brilliantly - his historical accuracy is as naff as it comes
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:55 AM

Shakespeare is in fact a very good example, he was a playwright, not a historian of any kind. But he did draw on the work of historians including Raphael Hollinshead. Hollinshead's work in some places offended the Privy Council who removed some places, but Hollinshead's work still exists in its entirety. Shakespeare did exactly what the songwriters did, which is to take history, embelish it, and superimpose a bias which is either theirs or the bias of those who pay them. Shakespeare's history is folk history.

Modern historians would not dream of taking Shakespeare into account without understanding this, and looking for corroboration of anything they might find. So it is with folk songs.

Jim says of a song he posted:

"This song quite possibly depicts an actual happening; if it does, the characters are unknown.
What it does do is describe a common occurrence in Irish rural life - and far beyond"

None of this is corroborated, and the first sentence can't be. The second might be, but I am not aware of documentary sources which would provide such corroboration.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:45 AM

"No. Fact and fiction have opposite meanings."
No - they can be inter-related
Where do we go from here ?
"After all, tomorrow’s newspapers can’t agree what happened today."
Neither can many historians - go read up WW1, or more recently, The Vietnam War as an example
Or try to get some of our historians to agree on the behaviour of some of our past Royals - I'll go get the bucket, sponge and towel
History is as much prone to personal viewpoint as is oral literature
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:20 AM

No. Fact and fiction have opposite meanings. Basing your fiction on facts is however commonplace, most political propaganda for instance. Slip in a few facts and distort them gives credibility to lies.

Songs, whether portrayed as written or after a couple of centuries of edit, mishearing and adapting will of course be a combination of fact and fiction. Historians may try to separate the two out. Whether that adds or subtracts from the song is a moot point.

After all, tomorrow’s newspapers can’t agree what happened today.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:11 AM

"Fiction is, by choice and by design, the opposite of fact. "
Utter nonsense
The best of fiction has its roots in fact - Steinbeck, Dickens, Mrs Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, Sebastian Faulks, Upton Sinclair, Tolstoy, Jaroslav Hasek..... many, many more... used fictional characters to depict real fife situations.
How well or accurately they did it depended on how much background research went into their work
Sinclair's 'The Jungle' was so accurate in its description of the Chicago meat-packing trade that it led to a total reform of the industry.

This song quite possibly depicts an actual happening; if it does, the characters are unknown
What it does do is describe a common occurrence in Irish rural life - and far beyond
Scotland has many similar songs
Jim Carroll

That Cold Man by Night.   Martin Long, Tooreen, Inagh, Recorded July 1975 at Willie Clancy Summer School
The practice of young women being pressurised or even forced into arranged marriages of convenience to older men has inspired many songs throughout these islands; sometimes depicting the tragedy or resigned bitterness of the situation the woman finds herself in, but occasionally, as with this one, open defiance, with a touch of humour.
This appears to be a locally-made song; we have been unable to find another example of it outside Clare.
Particularly interesting is the description of the visit to the matchmaker (the “learned man”) and the celebratory ceremony to seal the ‘made match’.

I am a handsome comely maid; my age is scarce eighteen,
I am the only daughter of a farmer near Crusheen,
‘Tis married I intend to be before its winning daylight,
Oh, my father wants me to get wed to a cold man by night.

This man being old, as I am told, his years are sixty-four,
I really mean to slight him, for he being wed before,
His common shoes are always loose, and his clothes don’t fit him right,
Oh I don’t intend the wife to be of that cold man by night.

The very next day without delay they all rode into town,
To a learned man they quickly ran the contract to pin down;
Into an inn they did call in to whet their whistles nigh,
In hope that I would live and die with that cold man by night.

My father came, I did him blame and thus to him did say,
“Oh father dear, you acted queer in what you done today,
In the Shannon deep I’ll go and sleep, before the mornings light,
Before I’ll agree the wife to be of that cold man by night”.

“Oh daughter dear, don’t say no more, or be a foolish lass,
For he has a house and four good cows, and a sporting fine black ass,
He has a handsome feather bed where ye may rest by night,
So change your life and be the wife of that cold man by night”.

“Oh father dear, don’t say no more, for I’ll tell you the reason why,
Before I’ll agree the wife to be, I’d first lay down and die,
In the Shannon deep I’ll go and sleep before the mornings light,
Before I’ll consent to be content with that cold man by night.

My match is broke, without a joke, I’ll marry if I can,
Before Sherofe* is over I’ll have a nice young man,
That will take me in his arms in a cold and frosty night,
And some other dame might do the same with that cold man by night.

*Sherofe Period between winter and the time when the work on the farm begins in earnest - It was reckoned that if a man hadn’t found a wife by the end of that time he would not do so for the rest of the year.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 May 18 - 12:39 AM

Most of what I'm reading confuses reliability with accuracy. They're not the same things.

Fiction is, by choice and by design, the opposite of fact. Steinbeck, Shakespeare et al are works of fiction. If there is a history, it's adulterated.

It's not reliable until the accurate bits are distilled & validated to a degree of certainty.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 24 May 18 - 10:04 PM

sandman, didn't you read the disclaimer at the end of the movie? Based on a true story


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