John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection


The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection Website

John Quincy Wolf, Jr. was “one of the few real scholars to become interested in Ozark folklore.” 1  This Website contains documents, audio recordings, and other materials from the John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection, part of the Regional Studies Center at Lyon College.

Ozark Folksongs contains transcriptions and audio files to hundreds of folksongs collected by Wolf from 1952-1970. Songs are indexed by song title. Sacred Harp documents Wolf’s interest in Sacred Harp singings.

Wolf, along with wife Bess, traveled the back roads of the hills and hollows of north central Arkansas for more than a decade beginning in the early 1950s in search of singers and musicians willing to sing and play their songs as Wolf saved them for posterity on his reel-to-reel tape recorder. When arthritis limited Quincy Wolf’s mobility in the 1960s, the couple increasingly turned their attention to musicians and genres found closer to their Memphis home, and one song in this collection reflects that change in geographical focus.

Bess Wolf donated the collection to Arkansas (now Lyon) College in 1981. An English professor by trade and self-taught folklorist, Wolf, unlike many of his contemporaries and predecessors, did not limit his recordings to songs and tunes that fit the academic definition of “genuine” folk music. He recorded whatever his hosts felt like playing, including hymns, Jimmie Rodgers songs, and popular, traditional-sounding Tin Pan Alley numbers.
Many of the songs in this collection would not have met the “authenticity” standards of the professional folklorists, but Wolf’s populist approach revealed the willingness of many in the hills of Arkansas and elsewhere to embrace the products of the American folk and popular traditions and the creations of local lore as willingly as they did the Child ballads and other British songs long sought and cherished by collectors.

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