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Yuba Dam Once More!

In a previous post, I took a look at the song “Yuba Dam,” in which a man gets in trouble with his wife and the law by answering questions honestly with the words “Yuba Dam,” only to be repeatedly misheard as saying “you be damned.” In this post, I’ll look into the deeper history of […]

Yuba Dam, 2020!

Folklorists Barre Toelken and Gary Ward Stanton recorded the comic song “Yuba Dam” on August 25, 1979, among the songs and reminiscences of Kevin Shannon, a singer and storyteller with a large repertoire of songs and a deep knowledge of the history of the Irish American community in and around Butte, Montana. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Yuba Dam” has a new relevance. It’s a tale of escalating misfortunes which leave the narrator alone, broke, and beaten up. Needless to say, I think we can all relate; it’s been a trying year. In that case, you might ask, why make it worse with a tale of woe? Well, that’s the great thing. Despite the misfortunes heaped on the shoulders of the narrator, “Yuba Dam” is a funny story. In fact, it’s just one variant of a joke that had been told in prose and verse for over 100 years when the song was recorded. In this post, we take a closer look at “Yuba Dam.”

Chicago Blues and Jazz: A New Story Map on the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection

In May, I wrote about a project that was keeping me busy, and providing a nice escape from the mental confines of my well-worn, Baltimore couch. While I cannot believe it is already August, I am happy to announce that the project is all set and ready to share! Chicago Blues and Jazz: Selections from […]

Finding Inspiration in Traditional Crafts

One frequent piece of advice for helping to keep our sense of well being as we need to stay home and stay safe during the pandemic is to find ways to be creative. Arts and crafts provide one way of doing this. I grew up with arts and crafts of all sorts as members of […]

“A Bad Penny Always Returns”

This is the sixth blog post in a series marking the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II, and will feature an “Aviator Flight Log Book,” which will be available during the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover in September 2020. While I enjoy working remotely, I miss having the opportunity to interact with those visiting the Veterans History Project’s […]

Homegrown Plus: The Murphy Beds

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) I’m very happy to continue the series with The Murphy Beds, which is the duo of Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer. The Murphy Beds present traditional and original folk songs with close […]

Working Together Apart: Virtual 20th/20th Vision

The following is a guest blog post by Yvonne Brown, a processing technician for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP). It is the sixth in a series from VHP staff. Click on the following names to read previous articles in this series: Tamika Brown– Processing Technician Andrew Huber– Liaison Specialist Tracey Dodson– Administrative […]

‘Yes, You Can’: The Rose Witherspoon Spence Story

The following is a guest post by Matt McCrady, a Digital Conversion Specialist for the Library of Congress. “It was a world of men,…We were trained and taught that our whole life was to make sure that these men were happy” Rose Witherspoon Spence was always a little “different.” That is the word she uses […]