Marjorie Lansing Porter

A local historian and newspaper columnist in Keeseville, NY, the Essex County region of the Adirondacks adjacent to Lake Champlain and northern Vermont, Marjorie Lansing Porter (1891-1973) had an abiding interest in family and community heritage. Porter committed herself from 1942 to the early 1950s to interviewing and recording, on a disc sound scriber, local traditional singers and musicians—including the heritage aim to document, if possible, all living performers within generations of a single family.

In contact with the Warners and Helen Hartness Flanders, she independently collected many songs from “Yankee John” Galusha, and nearly 100 songs from Lily Delorme. Porter also interviewed and recorded southeastern-fringe Adirondack fiddler and singerLawrence Older, Middle Grove (Saratoga County), prior to his subsequent recognition, folk festival appearances, and “folk revival” touring during the 1960s and 70s. Her final collecting was in 1967.

The Marjorie L. Porter Collection of North Country Folklore, as it eventually came to be known for archival purposes, provided Adirondack region source material for LP albums by Pete Seeger (1960) and Milt Okun (1963). The Porter Collection consists of 33 reel-to-reel tapes that include folk ballads, lyrical folksongs, early “hillbilly”/country derivative pieces, French-Canadian songs, and fiddle tunes. Copies of the recordings are at Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress; the originals, along with Porter's manuscript collection are at the SUNY College at Plattsburgh Special Collections.