Collection Number: 20038

Collection Title: Bascom Lamar Lunsford Family Collection, 1935-1972

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.


Archival processing of the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Family Collection was made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Size 14 items
Abstract The Bascom Lamar Lunsford Family Collection consists of 14 studio and field recordings, 1935-1972, created or compiled by the North Carolina lawyer, folklorist, performer and festival promoter, Bascom Lamar Lunsford (1882-1973), and his family. The majority of these tapes are part of Bascom Lamar Lunsford's "personal memory collection" of folks songs, which he made in collaboration with Columbia University in 1935. With the help of George W. Hibbett, a professor in the English Department at Columbia, and recording engineer, Walter C. Garwick, Lunsford recorded more than three hundred mountain songs, folk ballads, folk readings, poetry, spirituals, and folk games that he had personally collected over several decades in the mountains of southern Appalachia. Over a series of 10 reels, Lunsford sings, plays fiddle, banjo, and guitar, recites poetry, tells jokes and stories, reads sermons and speeches, and gives detailed background information for each recorded track. The Bascom Lamar Lunsford Family Collection also includes 4 recordings, circa 1970-1972, compiled by Lunsford's daughter, Kern Lunsford. These recordings include dubs of previous recordings as well as field recordings of North Carolina based gospel singers and country-western singers, including recordings of Reverend W. S. Woody (b. 1885), an Anglo-American old-time Baptist preacher from Spruce Pine, N.C., singing sacred songs, and recordings of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Boone and Evelyn Boone, country-western and gospel singers, from Green Mountain, N.C., singing country-western and gospel songs.
Creator Lunsford (Family: Lunsford, Bascom Lamar, 1882-1973)
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
Use of audio or visual materials may require production of listening or viewing copies.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Family Collection #20038, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Acquisitions information unknown (Acc. 102532).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Bascom Lamar Lunsford (1882-1973), performer and collector of folk music and organizer of folk festivals, was born in Mars Hill, Madison County, N.C. He was the son of James Bassett and Luarta Leah Buckner Lunsford and the great-grandson of Thomas Shepard Deaver, a founder of Mars Hill College. Having grown up in a rural area where folk songs, ballads, and instrumental tunes provided entertainment in homes, at square dances, and at other social functions, Lunsford developed an early appreciation for this music. He and his brother Blackwell were accomplished fiddlers by their teens, and they often performed for neighbors and at school entertainments. Even as a young man Lunsford sought songs and tunes from family, friends, and acquaintances, learning to sing and play them in order to collect and preserve them.

Following graduation from Camp Hill Academy in Leicester (Buncombe County), he enrolled in Rutherford College in 1901. A year later he accepted a teaching position in Madison County. After leaving that post Lunsford worked for two years for the East Tennessee Nursery Company, traveling on horseback to sell fruit trees throughout western North Carolina and adjacent states. This job enabled him to contact families in remote areas and collect even more songs and tunes. He returned to Rutherford College from 1906 to 1909, then taught school in McDowell County. In 1912, having studied law on his own, he entered Trinity College (now Duke University) as a second-year student where he studied under Samuel Fox Mordecai. He received his law degree and license to practice in 1913. Returning to western North Carolina, he pursued a number of occupations during the next decade. These included practicing law, newspaper publishing, and investigating draft evaders for the U.S. Department of Justice in New York.

On 2 June 1906, Lunsford married Nellie Sara Triplett (22 June 1881-4 May 1960). The couple had seven children: Sara Kern, Blackwell Lamar, Ellen Chapman, Lynn Huntington, Nellie Triplett, Merton Bacum, and Josepha Belle. After the death of his first wife, Lunsford married Mrs. Freda Metcalf English on 25 August 1960.

Lunsford's interest in collecting folk songs brought him to the attention of the growing number of folklorists following the British collector Cecil Sharp, who toured the southern mountains between 1916 and 1918. Although Lunsford never met Sharp, he did make the acquaintance of his assistant, Maud Karpeles. Lunsford contributed innumerable items to Frank C. Brown of Duke University for the North Carolina Folklore collection. In 1925 he accompanied Dr. Robert W. Gordon, the first head of the Library of Congress Archive of Folksong, on a search for ballads and songs in western North Carolina and South Carolina. Gordon encouraged Lunsford to continue collecting and preserving the songs and to be thorough and systematic in his approach. Dr. Dorothy Scarborough, from Columbia University, also toured the mountains with Lunsford in 1930. As a result of these contacts, in March 1935 Lunsford received an invitation to go to New York to record his "Personal Memory Collection" for Columbia; the collection included 315 items. In 1949, in a two-week marathon session, Lunsford recorded 330 items for the Library of Congress. Up to that time his was the largest repertory that a single informant had contributed to the Archive of Folksong.

In addition to collecting traditional songs, Lunsford composed several new ones, including "Good Old Mountain Dew" in 1920. In 1929 he and composer Lamar Stringfield collaborated on 30 and 1 Folk Songs from the Southern Mountains, a volume of songs arranged with musical accompaniment. Lunsford's major contribution to the perpetuation of folk music was the formation and promotion of folk festivals. In 1927 he advised the Asheville Chamber of Commerce to add a program of dancing and singing to its Rhododendron Festival. The program was so successful that the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival was established the next year. Lunsford organized or helped to found numerous festivals throughout his life, including the first National Folk Festival in St. Louis in 1934.

A high point in his career as a performer and promoter occurred in 1939, when he and his Soco Gap dance team performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain. In 1949 Lunsford represented the United States at the first International Folk Festival in Venice, Italy. He spent his later years at home in South Turkey Creek, near Leicester, where he continued to receive and entertain visitors and to participate in local festivals until his death at age ninety-one. He was buried in the Old Brick Church Cemetery, Leicester. (Biography courtesy of NCpedia)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The Bascom Lamar Lunsford Family Collection consists of 14 quarter inch open reel audio tapes, 1935-1972. The majority of these tapes are part of Bascom Lamar Lunsford's "personal memory collection" of folks songs, which he made in collaboration with Columbia University in 1935. The collection also includes 4 quarter inch open reel recordings, circa 1970-1972, compiled by Lunsford's daughter, Kern Lunsford. These recordings include dubs of previous recordings as well as field recordings of North Carolina based gospel singers and country-western singers, including recordings of Reverend W. S. Woody (b. 1885), an Anglo-American old-time Baptist preacher from Spruce Pine, N.C., singing sacred songs, and recordings of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Boone and Evelyn Boone, country-western and gospel singers, from Green Mountain, N.C., singing country-western and gospel songs.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972.

14 items.

Arrangement: Chronological.

Titles and descriptions compiled from the SFC database.

Field notes for these recordings reside in the Southern Folklife Collection Field Notes Collection (#30025).

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/262

Folksongs from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 1 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/262

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/263

Folksongs from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 2 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/263

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/264

Folksongs from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 3 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/264

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/265

Folksongs from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 4 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/265

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/266

Folksongs from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 5 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/266

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/267

Folksongs from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 6 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/267

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/268

Folksongs and tales from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 7 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/268

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/269

Folksongs and tales from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 8 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/269

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/270

Folksongs and tales from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 9 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/270

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/271

Folksongs and tales from the Carolina mountains, Columbia University Recordings, made in New York City, 1935: reel 10 of 10 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/271

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/1727

Bascom Lamar Lunsford, narratives; dubs of Library of Congress Recordings and Columbia University Recordings, 24 February 1935 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/1727

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/1726

Reverend W.S. Woody interview and songs, Jonas Ridge, NC, 26 April 1972; Bascom Lamar Lunsford narrative, Buncombe County, NC, 16 April 1970 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/1726

1/4" Open Reel Audio

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/1818

Reverend W.S. Woody of Spruce Pine, NC, and Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Boone of Green Mountain, NC, religious songs, summer 1972 #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/1818

1/4" Open Reel Audio

Recorded by Kern Lunsford; Live recordings of Reverend W. S. Woody (b. 1885), Anglo-American old-time Baptist preacher from Spruce Pine, N.C., singing sacred songs, and Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Boone and Evelyn Boone, country-western and gospel singers, from Green Mountain, N.C., singing country-western and gospel songs both a cappella and with guitar accompaniment from song sheets.

SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20038/6270

Dubs of recordings prepared and sent to Dan Patterson by Miss Kern Lunsford, date unknown #20038, Series: "1. Audio Recordings, 1935-1972." FT-20038/6270

1/4" Open Reel Audio

Includes "Picture Turned Towards the Wall," "Darling Nellie Gray," "Old Uncle Ned," "Sunny Tennessee," "The Master Has Come Over Jordon," etc

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Processing Information

Encoded by: Anne Wells, February 2016

Archival processing of the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Family Collection was made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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