Kenneth Goldstein

Kenneth S. GoldsteinAs chairman of the Department of Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years, Dr. Kenneth S.  Goldstein (1927-1995) was an internationally renowned folklorist: scholar, teacher, author and book publisher, field collector, record producer, folk festival organizer, lecturer, and more. Goldstein’s skills and achievements as a folksong collector and producer/editor of traditional folk and revival LP albums (some 525, from the 1950s-‘70s) were enough, in themselves, to secure his reputation. For the Stinson label, he produced interpreter Milt Okun’s Adirondack Folk Songs and Ballads. Following up on Sandy Paton, Goldstein separately collected 200 ballads and songs from Sara Cleveland’s repertoire on reel-to-reel tape recordings (1968), copies of which are at the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Through Philo Records, he issued Cleveland’s only other LP, Sara Cleveland (1975).

Most of Goldstein’s field collecting, however, was far removed from the Adirondacks: the Appalachian South, Scotland, England, Ireland, Australia, and the Canadian Maritimes. During regular trips from 1978-1992, in rural Newfoundland and Labrador alone, he collected a remarkable 4000 songs from more than 200 singers, and planned a multi-volume, annotated edition of these finds. These audiocassette recordings currently are archived at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The Kenneth S. Goldstein Folklore Collection, extensive and varied in contents, is housed at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, University of Mississippi.

By the late 1960s and beyond, Kenny Goldstein regularly presented the likes of tradition bearers Sara Cleveland and Lawrence Older in many university classrooms, on stages at folk festivals, and at folksong workshops. In doing so, beyond his vast annotation liner notes and booklet commentaries for LPs, he introduced countless members of the general public to forms and performance styles of folksongs and folk music.