Dr. Scott B. Spencer will discuss “The Ballad Collectors: Gathering Folksongs and Shaping a Nation” at a 7:30 p.m. meeting of the Hilltoppers group at Temple Sholom in Broomall .
At the turn of the previous century, folklorists and music scholars began scouring the continent for traditional folk songs. Influenced by scholar Francis James Child, these collectors had notions that songs were important to academia and needed to be saved before the influence of radio and recording technology wiped them out permanently. Amateur collectors and academics from Columbia University, Harvard and elsewhere all scrambled to gather and publish American ballads – finding traditional songs sung by cowboys, loggers, sharecroppers, gold miners, mariners and many others across North America.
The songs they collected and published went on to profoundly influence the fields of English language, folklore, Anthropology and Musicology, and through the efforts of people like Carl Sandburg and John Lomax helped shape the collective identity of our nation. Dr. Spencer’s presentation will look at the stories of these early collectors, their time in the field, and the music and culture they saved. He will explore the subject through recordings and images from the field, and will encourage the audience to do a little singing.
Dr. Spencer is an adjunct professor of Music at Villanova University, and Mellon Visiting Regional Faculty Fellow with the Penn Humanities Forum. He is the editor of the recent book, “The Ballad Collectors of North America: How Gathering Folksongs Transformed Academic Thought and American Identity.”
A suggested donation of $2.00 from non-members would be appreciated. Refreshments will be served and the building is handicapped accessible.