Collection Number: 20538

Collection Title: Howie Mitchell Papers, 1962-2002

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.


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Size .5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 50 items)
Abstract The collection of folk revival musician and Appalachian dulcimer maker Howie Mitchell is comprised chiefly of letters he received in the early 1960s from traditional singer and banjo player Frank Proffitt. In his letters to Mitchell, Proffitt mentions family and friends, reading, playing music, musical instruments, folk music, folk songs, folk festivals, copyright, recording for Folkways, his tobacco crop, building a new house, and squirrel hunting. Also included in the collection are newspaper clippings, song lyrics, a letter to Mitchell from instrument maker Dennis Dorogi, guitar strings, and a 2002 note from Mitchell to folklorist and musician Mike Seeger about Proffitt's letters.
Creator Mitchell, Howie, 1932-
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
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 Howie Mitchell Papers #20538, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Transferred from the Mike Seeger Collection (20009) in June 2016 (Acc. 103001).
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

Born in 1932 Howie (Howard W.) Mitchell was a folk revival musician, teacher, Appalachian dulcimer player, and instrument maker from Lexington, Va. He was the author of The Mountain Dulcimer - How To Make It And Play It (After A Fashion), Folk Legacy Records BK-29, 1966.

Traditional singer and banjo player Frank Proffitt (1913-1965) was born in Laurel Bloomery, Tenn. His family moved to the Beaver Dam area of Watauga County, N.C. when he was still a child, and he worked on the family farm, leaving school after the sixth grade. He is known as the source of the song "Tom Dooley," which he shared with Frank Warner and Anne Warner in 1938 during the Warners' song collecting trip in Appalachia. "Tom Dooley" was included in Alan Lomax's 1947 book Folksong U.S.A. and recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1958. Per an out of court settlement, Warner, Lomax, and Proffitt eventually split the royalties for the song. Proffitt recorded three albums of traditional songs, and his son Frank Proffitt, Jr. performed his father's repertoire until his death in 2007.

Adapted from "Frank Proffitt, Sr." (2017) in Encyclopedia of Appalachia. (Site accessed 24 January 2017 http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=176).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection of folk revival musician and Appalachian dulcimer maker Howie Mitchell is comprised chiefly of letters he received in the early 1960s from traditional singer and banjo player Frank Proffitt. In his letters to Mitchell, Proffitt mentions family and friends, reading, playing music, musical instruments, folk music, folk songs, folk festivals, copyright, recording for Folkways, his tobacco crop, building a new house, and squirrel hunting. Also included in the collection are newspaper clippings, song lyrics, a letter to Mitchell from instrument maker Dennis Dorogi, guitar strings, and a 2002 note from Mitchell to folklorist and musician Mike Seeger about Proffitt's letters.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Papers, 1962-2002.

About 50 items.

Processing Note: Materials have been placed in folders for use, but they have not been analyzed, arranged, or fully described.

Folder 1-6

Letters, circa 1962-1965 and undated #20538, Series: " Papers, 1962-2002." Folder 1-6

Chiefly letters received by Mitchell from Frank Proffitt. Also included are newspaper clippings and a letter from a New York artist and instrument maker Dennis "D" Dorogi.

Folder 7

La Bella Classical Guitar Strings #20538, Series: " Papers, 1962-2002." Folder 7

Folder 8

Note from Howie Mitchell to Mike Seeger, 2002 #20538, Series: " Papers, 1962-2002." Folder 8

Mitchell sent a note with the Proffitt letters to Mike Seeger, who noted on the envelope that the letters should be donated to the Southern Folklife Collection.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Laura Hart, January 2017

Encoded by: Laura Hart, January 2017

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