Frank & Anne Warner

Traditional singers and songs field collecting devotees, Frank (1903-1978) and Anne (1905-1991) Warner were non-academically affiliated American folk music enthusiasts dedicated to general public presentation, interpretation, and promotion of the heritage as found along the eastern seaboard. The Warners are linked closely with the recorded documentation and public recognition of renowned Frank Proffitt (North Carolina) and “Yankee John” Galusha (New York State), both of whom during the 1940s and early 1950s they helped establish as icons during the emergence of the “folksong revival.” They collected a total of 56 songs from “Yankee John” at his home near Minerva, in Essex County. Lesser known is the Warner’s extensive collecting in 1940-1941 from Lena Bourne Fish, then about age 70 and living in East Jaffrey, NH, which resulted in nearly 100 songs; apparently half of these pieces, for unknown reasons, she never sang for the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection efforts undertaken by Marguerite Olney. The Galusha and Fish recordings were discs.

The Warner’s only additional Adirondack collecting (1969), 5 songs on audio cassette, was from Steve Wadsworth, a former logger living in Northville, in Fulton County, at the southern edge of the region. Noteworthy was recovery of a sung version of “The Ballad of Blue Mountain Lake” that departs, in text, from the Galusha rendition of an Adirondack lumber camp song itself as much iconic in the Adirondack tradition as the name “Yankee John” Galusha. Popular author Carl Carmer (The Hudson, 1939) led the Warners to “Yankee John” Galusha and Lena Bourne Fish in the Adirondacks. For a detailed and engaging account of the Warner’s folksong collecting activities, along with further information about their Adirondack heritage pursuits, see Anne Warner, Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne & Frank Warner Collection(Syracuse University Press, 1984). The volume includes a sampler of transcribed song text and tunes obtained from Galusha, Fish, and Wadsworth, accompanying notes for each item, and a selected bibliography pertinent to the Warner Collection as a whole.

The complete Anne and Frank Warner Collection is at the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folk life Center, Library of Congress.