The Collectors

This section was researched and written by Robert D. Bethke, PhD, a retired professor of English and director of the Folklore and Ethnic Art Center at the University of Delaware and author of Adirondack Voices: Woodsmen and Woods Lore, University of Illinois Press, 1981.

In addition to practical considerations of website length, recognition of “collectors” of Traditional Adirondack Music presents many issues of inclusion and exclusion. For instance, what is one to do for a traditional performer who “self-collects” her or his repertoire through handwritten, typed, or tape recorded efforts? Or, the revival singer/musician who makes an effort to collect regional and local material from tradition bearers who, unlike the revival performer and interpreter, acquired the material through processes of oral tradition in domestic, community, or occupational settings while growing up?

What about the local historian and the dedicated genealogist who happened to tape record several recitations from memory of “old songs so-and-so used to sing hereabouts” while primarily interested in compiling information for a town’s history? One can easily compound such instances, which commonly occur, and certainly for the Adirondacks. At some point, with rationale, there is need to settle upon guiding criteria—recognizing that such qualifications may change, for equally legitimate reasons, over time.

Hence, the initial criteria for Collectors:

1) there is reference to the collector within the website;

2) each collector elsewhere, in print or other public formats, has been identified with more than incidental documentation of traditional Adirondack music;

3) each collector used audio recording equipment specifically with the intent to capture live Adirondack traditional folk music performance from a tradition bearer other than themselves;

4) examples of the collecting by each collector are available through article or book publication, on LPs or CDs, or available at a major archive;

5) exclusion of collectors for whom little or incomplete information, serving the above criteria, currently is available.

Rather than alphabetical listing by surname, entries under Collectors are organized in time sequence, the attempt to reflect development of collecting efforts for traditional Adirondack music, along with interconnections among those efforts and results.