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Category: African Americans

“I Didn’t Done the Crime”: Stavin’ Chain’s “Batson” and the Batson Case

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Note: This is the third in a series of posts about the murder ballad “Batson.” This one discusses the version of the ballad performed by Wilson Jones, aka “Stavin’ Chain,” in light of the real-life Batson case. In previous blog posts about the murder ballad “Batson,” I looked at early versions collected by Robert Winslow …

Two men seated, one playing guitar, the other playing fiddle.

“No One Can Ever Forget It”: Stavin’ Chain’s Performance of “Batson”

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Note: This is the second in a series of posts about the murder ballad “Batson.” This one discusses the performance recorded by John A. and Alan Lomax from a trio of musicians including Wilson Jones, a.k.a. Stavin’ Chain, in 1934. A little while back, I presented for the first time anywhere a version of the …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

“When I First Got Ready For the War,” a Song of World War I

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

This is one of two articles, each focusing on one ethnographic recording of an African American song of World War I. To read the article about “Trench Blues” select here. African Americans left to serve in World War I, beginning one hundred years ago in June 1917, landing in France on June 25. They had …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

A Few Examples of Dads’ Traditions

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

A celebration of fathers and fatherhood took a long time to be established as a nation-wide observance.  Mother’s Day was being locally observed as it was being promoted in the 19th and early 20th century, and became a regular holiday in May in 1914 by presidential proclamation. Father’s Day was locally celebrated around the country …

A man on a horse, accompanied by the caption "'General' Harrison at the Grand Canyon."

“Oh, Mama”: A Mother’s Love and the Murder Ballad “Batson”

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Note: This is the first in a series of posts about the murder ballad “Batson.” This one discusses previously unpublished versions of the song from manuscript collections at AFC. The ballad “Batson,” collected by John and Alan Lomax from Wilson Jones (whose nickname was “Stavin’ Chain”) and two accompanists, has long been a well-known and …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

“People Who Stood Up”: Mississippi Women in the Civil Rights Movement

Posted by: Guha Shankar

This guest blog post comes to us courtesy of Catherine Turner, a high school senior working at the American Folklife Center this Spring on her service project for Park School in Baltimore, MD. Catherine is entering Brown University in Fall 2017, and has spent the last six weeks diving into the collections at the Library …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Cutting the Tension – VHP Narrators’ Cracks, Jokes and Quips

Posted by: Lisa Taylor

The following is a guest blog post by Owen Rogers, Liaison Specialist for the Veterans History Project (VHP). Among VHP’s oral histories, memoirs and correspondence, we frequently find humorous anecdotes about jokes, pranks and creative punishments. This post began as an “April Fools” ruse developed from some of the more absurd scenarios recounted by veterans …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Bringing the Church into the World: The Civil Rights Struggle & the Student Interracial Ministry

Posted by: Guha Shankar

(This guest blog is provided courtesy of our old friend, David Cline, assistant professor of history and director of the graduate certificate in public history at Virginia Tech. Many Library patrons will be familiar with David, through the dozens of video interviews he has conducted for the Civil Rights History Project (CRHP) and also because …