The James Madison Carpenter Collection Online Catalogue

About the Catalogue

Photo of Sam Bennett, Ilmington Morris Fiddler

Sam Bennett, Ilmington Morris Fiddler
The James Madison Carpenter Collection, Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress,
AFC 1972/001 Photo 036

Reproduced with permission

The James Madison Carpenter Collection Online Catalogue (version 1.0, 2003; version 1.1, 2006; version 1.2, 2008) is published by hriOnline and forms part of its Humanities Databases Online series.

The catalogue was compiled and encoded by Julia C. Bishop, David Atkinson, Elaine Bradtke, Eddie Cass, Thomas A. McKean and Robert Young Walser. It is maintained by this team in conjunction with the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield. Any correspondence regarding the catalogue should be addressed in the first instance to Julia C. Bishop, The Elphinstone Institute, MacRobert Building, King’s College, University of Aberdeen, AB24 5UA, Scotland.

The catalogue covers Series I of the Collection excluding the papers written by Carpenter's students at Duke University (Folder 269 on). The catalogue includes the papers, photographic materials and the cylinder and disc recordings. Members of the cataloguing team worked with the digital surrogates of the papers and photographic materials. The digitised sound recordings were not available during the initial cataloguing period so the cylinder entries in version 1.0 were based on Carpenter’s own cylinder index contained in Box 2 Packet 1 (pp. 03960-04126); the discs (Carpenter’s back-up copies of the cylinders) were omitted. Version 1.1 contained detailed information on the cylinder contents and entries for the discs based on Carpenter’s own disc index on pp. 00007-00074 and p. 03961. Version 1.2 contains a detailed listing of the disc contents and identifies the cylinder(s) from which the items were copied. The discs are arranged by ‘disc side’, to each of which Carpenter assigned a unique number. Version 1.2 contains a link from each disc side to the entry for the cylinder(s) from which it was copied.

The language of the catalogue is primarily English, although there are many song titles in Scots, and a small amount of material cited in French, Scottish Gaelic and Cornish. The catalogue is hierarchical in arrangement, following the Box, Packet and Mailsack arrangement of the papers as they appear to have been arranged by Carpenter when the Collection was brought to the Library of Congress. This arrangement was maintained in the microfilming of the Collection shortly after its acquisition and so has been retained in this catalogue, although it is not clear how much it represents an ‘original order’ for the materials. The catalogue details the papers, photographs and sound recordings to the level of intellectual item, such as a song recording, a mummers’ play text, a letter, and a photographic image.

The catalogue is complemented by Name Authority and Placename Authority Files. The Name Authority File is principally based on information contained in the Collection itself. Version 1.1 of the catalogue added a number of expanded entries incorporating further information from other sources, mainly birth, marriage and death records, the 1891 and 1901 Census, and the testimony of contributors’ descendants. The Placename Authority File traces a large proportion of the places named in the Collection in Britain, Ireland and the United States, and provides Ordnance Survey references for locations in Britain. For British placenames, it is organized on the basis of the ‘historic counties’, that is, the county boundaries and names as they were prior to the Local Government Act 1972 and the Lieutenancies Act 1997 (see the Gazetteer of British Place Names). The Placename Authority File does not cover place names mentioned within song or play texts.

Related items within the Collection, such as a text transcription, sound recording and music notation of the same song as contributed by a particular singer, or a handwritten play text and the typed version of the same item, have also been identified and links to the entries for these related items incorporated into the catalogue. These relationships have so far been identified for the Child ballads, the shanties and the folk plays within the Collection.

The main additions to version 1.1 of the catalogue were item-level entries for the cylinder contents, provisional entries for the disc contents, and expanded Name Authority File entries for approximately forty contributors from North-East Scotland. Version 1.2 contains item-level entries for the disc contents and corrections to a small number of main catalogue entries.

The cataloguers have listened to all of the cylinders and discs in order to identify their contents insofar as this was possible, given the poor quality of many of the recordings. Further information, especially with regard to titles and contributors’ names, was taken from Carpenter’s index to the cylinders (pp. 03960-04126), the slips accompanying each cylinder, where available (pp. 13433-13544), Carpenter’s index to the disc copies of the cylinders (pp. 00007-00074, 03961), Carpenter’s song index, organised alphabetically by song title and containing the relevant performer names (pp. 12694-13432), and transcriptions of items in the Collection. Where the title and/or contributor’s name has been derived from one or more of these, it is given in the usual manner in the entry. Where the cataloguer has otherwise inferred or supplied a title and/or contributor name, this information is given in square brackets.

©2003 - 2008 The University of Sheffield