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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Djurklo - Twigmuntus, Cowbelliantus, Perchnosius - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Stories Travel!  As a storyteller I'm delighted they did.  The collection by G. Djurklo and translated by H.L. Braekstad called Fairy Tales from the Swedish has many stories showing such traveling, but do you recognize "Twigmuntus, Cowbelliantus, Perchnosius" as originating anywhere else?  I recognized a tale that took its idea . . .  more on that after the story.  First I hope you enjoy "Twigmuntus, Cowbelliantus, Perchnosius" at least as much as that strange title!
So did you recognize another story using this same idea?

If you want to see more Fairy Tales from the Swedish it's online.  I had great fun looking to see how many of those stories were ones I recognized in other versions.

Now for the answer: If you love that "Great Dane", Hans Christian Andersen you may recognize "Hans Clodhopper"!  There are many translations of Andersen and the tale of "Hans Clodhopper" is one of my favorites.  Is it the same?  DUNBERIDICULOUS!  Andersen is not usually placed in the folktale section, but you can trace many of his tales to his obvious love of folklore.

Speaking of folklore and stories that have traveled or been around a long time . . .

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings as often as I can manage it.    


  
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Slave Cotton

Trish and Carl Moss as Sarah and Governor Austin Blair
When doing Civil War reenactments as Liberetta Lerich Green, who grew up on a Utica, Michigan Underground Railroad Station and whose brothers were in the "Fighting Fifth" Infantry, I'd been wearing my Victorian mourning outfit, in honor of her late husband, Addison Green.  Now I will also offer Civil War period clothing thanks to Trish Moss who portrays Sarah Blair, the wife of Michigan's wartime governor.  (Her husband, Carl, portrays Governor Austin Blair.)  They're not officially online, but here's a video and article from The Voice of Carl dedicating the time capsule for Marine City's Heritage Days.  Trish is far more lively than shows in the video, but as often happens with "First Ladies", was merely there in support of her husband.  Here is at least a photo of them both.

Like any reenactor I needed a story.  Liberetta's oral history and other research I have done over the years didn't quite explain something I know would have concerned her abolitionist family . . . slave cotton.  What's that? 

To understand the role of "King Cotton" in the Confederate States economy, this Wikipedia article summarizes how they hoped to use Lincoln's blockade to bring in European allies to their cause.  The blockade was effective, while the attempt at "cotton diplomacy" by the south was not.  Europe was determined to remain neutral and the Cotton Famine led them to switch to other sources.

At the same time a boycott of slave-produced goods was controversial.  No less a major abolitionist than William Lloyd Garrison switched from supporting the boycott to deciding it was unenforceable and a distraction.  Many women, Quakers and African-American abolitionists disagreed.  Professor Julie Holcomb's article, "Blood-Stained Goods" offers a good summary of "The Transatlantic Boycott of Slave Labor" and has contracted for a book-length explanation of Moral Commerce: The Transatlantic Boycott of Slave Labor.

Did that mean northerners stopped wearing cotton?  Dunberidiculous!


As this paragraph from "They Wore Cotton" shows:
So where did Northerners get their cotton from during the Civil War? The South, of course.
It seems that during the Civil War Lincoln promoted trade with the south, especially in raw cotton. He did so for several reasons. One was to keep northern weaving mills in operation. Second, Lincoln believed that many in the south sympathized with the Union and he wanted to ensure their loyalty. Third, he didn’t want the south trading the cotton that had supplied the north to England in exchange for guns and supplies.
So a brisk trade in southern cotton carried on even though the South tried to stop it by burning much of the cotton crop of 1862. Unfortunately, other than allowing northerners to continue to wear cotton, it did not have all the results Lincoln hoped for. The traders, mostly Copperheads, were soon making magnificent profits trading guns and supplies for raw cotton, despite several efforts by the government to control the trade. To learn more of the ins and outs of this trade read David Surdam’s paper Traders or Traitors: Northern Cotton Trading during the Civil War and also Civil War Cotton Conspiracy. 

It's interesting that even Lincoln had second thoughts about the boycott of Slave Cotton.

So here I am aware the Lerichs were fiercely inclined to follow their principles.  Two examples Liberetta mentioned were salting a corn crop they sold, thus preventing its distillation into alcohol, and refusing to keep dogs because they were against hunting.  Surely Slave Cotton would have been something they didn't purchase during the war and yet they, too, needed "Sunday-go-to-meeting" clothes.  Fortunately during the war Liberetta was a young teenager, so it's understandable she probably wore hand-me-down dresses from her older sister, Cleantha, nearly 8 years her senior.   

Here are the wonderful outfits Trish Moss made. 
Ladies sometimes wore their skirts without hoops, especially around fires.  (A hoop also fits this.)



 













 
Simple muslin with a china figurine inspiring the trim















 
Classic (with curtain ties trim on the sleeves)


If you are interested in seeing what fabrics looked like during the Civil War, Reproduction Fabrics offers a page of swatches along with a link to a history of civil war fabrics.

The look is certainly lovely, but it could also be said to be "striking" as a few women in an ordinary modern-sized room fill it when all wear hoops. 

While my ladies of long ago may tease today's women and girls by acting shocked that they wear "Trousers!", isn't it great that we can?  Mid-19th century women would have been fined for dressing like a man.  Amelia Bloomer was both a fashion revolutionary and crusaded for women's rights and temperance.  Since Liberetta's mother also crusaded for the W.C.T.U. as well as being an abolitionist, surely she would have seen her family didn't wear Slave Cotton.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Signing and Storytelling

Over the years I've often written on the topic of sign language.

My ASL (American Sign Language) background dates waaaaay back to when my older daughter was in grade school. She's a very oral hard of hearing adult at the severely hard of hearing range. Because she's too deaf for the hearing, she finds it's easier to say she's deaf. She and her sister grew up using it thanks to my taking what classes I could + her eventually going to a school with what is called Total Communication.  That same older daughter loves to collect the many ways sign changes internationally, so I've also become somewhat aware of how signing differs in other countries.

Because the language is so totally different from other languages, I really can't say how long it will take you to feel comfortable in it. Also, like any secondary language, if you don't use it, you will start to lose it. Since this will never be your primary language, it would be a good idea to make it a practice to run any story or song you sign past either an interpreter or somebody who uses it as their primary language. Even then, like any language, there may be more than one way to say/sign it.

Why use sign language with your storytelling?

  • It's a great way to involve an audience. 
  • It's now the 3d most used language in our country and there's a LOT of interest in it. 
  • "Baby sign" programs have also shown its value with more than those who have a language or hearing problem.  It encourages communication at an early age, helping infants and toddlers express their feelings and what they want.  This can reduce frustration and misunderstanding for both adult and child.
  • I often have taught such programs, including programs for interested young audiences to introduce them to it.
  • Because of this I often tell a story in voice and sign, teaching first the signs basic to the story. 
  • Often these signs are simple concepts like colors, animal names, that type of thing. When I was doing weekly preschool programs as a librarian, I used signs as an added way to learn basic concepts.
  • It also is a great way to involve more than one learning style.  Research shows the more learning styles used, the better something is learned.
Sign language has several variations even within the United States.  By telling in voice and sign it tends to move my signing from the American Sign Language end of the spectrum more towards Pidgen Sign, which is signing in English word order. It also tends to streamline my spoken words to coincide with what I'm signing. While I don't usually do an entire program in sign, I have enough stories to put one together. I also have done entire programs in voice and sign when the audience included deaf classes with hearing classes. To do that, you need to get to a fairly conversational level with a lot of vocabulary.
This book originated in paperback, which is now out of print, but Amazon offers a Kindle edition.

There's a lot more I could say, but you might find it worth reading a chapter in Margaret Read MacDonald's book, Tell the World; Storytelling Across Language Barriers. I wrote the first half of the chapter on Translation into a Signed Language; then a licensed interpreter wrote the second half. Whatever you decide, I'd strongly recommend a class in A.S.L., preferably from somebody with strong ties in the deaf community to help you understand more.
  • One last thought, I've found signing also helps when telling with people whose native language is not English, but they're trying to learn it. Many signs are called "natural signs" as they use a sign that matches "natural" gestures.  As mentioned in my list of reasons above, the more senses you can bring into learning is always worthwhile. Signing uses both your visual and kinesthetic abilities.
I even have a large puppet that lets me sign. 
Ivan signs "friend"

***********
The following comments came after I wrote the above article, which I've expanded and edited here for this blog.  The heart of my comments were part of a forum discussion on Professional Storyteller, an international network of storytellers.

Lois: I could not have advised any better than you have. I have a background in ASL and use it when telling stories from my young readers book: "MIDNIGHT AND THE MAGICAL PRAIRIE SCHOONER." The only other ting I would add, Daniel, is the importance of respect for ASL as it is also the culture of the Deaf. I find using "pidgin" used with sim-com (speaking simultaneously) useful with an all hearing audience. I also feel a strong sense of responsibility in educating children in ASL. So, when Lois says take a class in ASL, she's spot on. But also know that the best way to both show your respect for ASL and the Daf community and the best way to learn ASL is to socialize with the Deaf. They are not only the best teachers, you will also find them to patient and eager to teach. Best of Luck, Daniel and Lois in bringing us closer together through sign story. Oh, one last thing. Daniel, check out a series of tapes called - I think this right- "STORIES FROM THE ATTIC" with Billy.. forget his last name. Very basic kids stories.
Peace and Grace, Deins

Thank you, Denis.
This is precisely why I say "The deaf community is a true community and American Sign Language is a true language." Hopefully anyone taking a class in ASL also gets an introduction to this. Getting out and associating with deaf individuals and groups helps you discover just how much you don't know, while feeling the support that comes from having a relationship. CODAs (Children Of Deaf Adults) and interpreters can also help you, but the goal is communication, so the more that comes directly to you from anyone who is deaf, the better.


at ETSU we have two amazing interpreters, Libby Tipton and Tracy who I am afraid I don't know the second name of, who do a lot of storytelling interpretation both for us and at the National Festival and other NSN and ISC events. Libby is also a speaking storyteller.
Recently ETSU organisation Silent BUCS hosted Peter Cook - internationally reknown deaf storyteller - and he teaches narrative development for interpreters - and anyone else who wants to tell in sign. http://professionalstoryteller.ning.com/events/narrative-development-in-asl I can't find a direct link to Peter's own website via google at present - just lots of his gigs - but I'll ask then post it.


Daniel's initial post made me a bit wary as I read it (probably not how it was intended) as seeing ASL as an easy way to extend a repertoire and get more bookings - something I think we speaking storytellers need to be very careful of.

Any language switch will change someone's telling, but ASL more so than most, because it functions differently to a verbal language. So my thought is that speaking storytellers with no previous ASL experience should either plan a long ASL learning period followed by developing their art form in ASL, or hook up with ASL interpreters and work together - otherwise I think we risk offering the deaf community a substandard storytelling experience, thinking we can just learn a bit of sign language and use it with our telling. Learning a bit and using a little if we have deaf audience members is a polite and good thing that we can do to involve a deaf audience and interpreters for them, but that is somewhat different. All this is purely my opinion, not anything I've discussed with the ASL interpreters at ETSU - but I'll try and point them here to add to the discussion

Delete
Kat
I looked at my Post and can see where you might be a bit wary. I assure you that my thoughts were not on money, only on making my self a better storyteller. If I get a couple of payed gigs out of it all the better. And as far as easy... learning a new language is not easy. I would not use it as a game, I would use it as a learning tool for hearing students and audiences, and to tell stories to the ASL community who, as I see, don’t get a lot of storytelling exposure. I’m also looking into learning Spanish for the same reasons. (Though there are more Spanish speaking storytellers)

Back to Storytelling + Research:

More recently those classes for parents and other caregivers have been something I offer in addition to my storytelling.  
Warren Public Library offered it last winter and spring and will again offer it starting Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.with follow-up sessions on the last Tuesday of each month.
To register or find out more go to: Warren Public Library or call the Civic Center Library at 586-574-4564.

Held in the Conference room next to 
Warren Civic Center.
  
Yes, sessions tend to end with me telling a story in voice and sign language.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Eastman / Ohiyesa - Unktomee and His Bundle of Songs - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Tricksters love confusing us, so whether you call him "Unktomee" or "Iktomi" don't be in doubt as it's the same Lakota trickster.  Today's tale about him is by somebody who knew him well, Charles Alexander Eastman.  The other name for Eastman was Ohiyesa (which means the Winner or Wins Often), a name earned as he reached his manhood within his Santee heritage, but he was originally named Hakadah (which means the Pitiful Last as his mother died shortly after his birth).  He lived in two worlds, born in a buffalo hide tipi on the Santee Reservation in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, but at age 4 the "Sioux uprising of 1862" resulted in his living the nomadic life of the Santee Sioux with his uncle and grandmother in Manitoba.  When he was 15 and just about to go on his first war-path to avenge the father he believed had died in 1862, his father found him and insisted on white schooling and learning the white civilization.  It was a difficult transition, but his own strong intelligence eventually led to becoming a medical doctor at Boston University in 1890 and class orator for the graduation ceremony.  The rest of his life was spent in attempting to use both his medical skills to heal and his experience to represent the concerns of his people.  It included 11 books popular internationally.  Today's story comes from Wigwam Evenings; Sioux Folk Tales Retold which was co-written with his wife, Elaine Goodale Eastman.  Various biographies and lists of his works can be found online, especially from Native American sites, such as Indigenous People.net, the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center, as well as Early Native American Literature.

At the end of this story of Unktomee I'll look at the Iktomi series of stories by Paul Goble.  Unktomee is explained by "Smoky Day", the storyteller who frames the stories within 27 evenings.
 


























I'm always a lover of Fox tales, so that story's addition of the fox to a story that could have ended without him just adds to my enjoyment.  At the same time I notice the illustration by Edwin Willard Deming has Unktomee as a "strange little old man", but is earlier called by the narrator a Spider.  That's what the name means and we are told he is a shape-shifter.  The name also shifts slightly in pronunciation but is still recognizable in the work of Caldecott award winning author/artist, Paul Goble.  His Wikipedia article repeats English Goble's background of adoption by Chief Edgar Red Cloud in South Dakota's Black Hills.
Goble's work is not without criticism both in the book Unsettling Narratives: Postcolonial Readings of Children's Literature by Clare Bradford on pages 29 and 30 and 81-83 and online at American Indians in Children's Literature quoting Native authors, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, and Doris Seale, and subsequent discussion in the blog by Debbie Reese.

Oh, Unktomee, how you must be laughing!

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings as often as I can manage it.    


  
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  Have fun discovering even more stories!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

More on Old-Time and Civil War Music


I was all set to do another installment of Keeping the Public in Public Domain, but here's a bit of additional information that came after I published the article on "Old-Time" music.  It comes from dulcimer player and lover of 19th century music, William Craig Mann, who has quite a collection of sheet music from that era.
***
He said:
You will certainly want to include in your list of potential resources three books by Dover Publications: "The Civil War Song Book," "Stephen Foster Song Book," and "Popular Songs of Nineteenth-Century America." (I know they should be underlined or italicized, but I haven't figured out how to do that from my tablet).  The last book is out of print, but the first two are available on the Dover website.  All three contain photocopies of actual original sheet music (making them primary sources), and were valuable resources to me in my research.
Another valuable book, though also out of print (but turns up regularly on Ebay) and genre-specific, is Hans Nathan's "Dan Emmett and Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy.". It's an academic study of the life, career, and music of Daniel Decatur Emmett, composer of "Dixie's Land," "Old Dan Tucker," and a host of other gems.  Nathan included in the book and entire, BIG section of note-by-note and word-by-word transcriptions of original minstrel songs by Emmett and some of his contemporaries.  These are not specifically Civil War songs, but songs that formed the basis of popular music in America during that era.
I highly recommend these resources.

A bit later he added:
Another song book I would highly recommend is "Minstrel Songs Old and New" subtitled "A Collection of World-Wide, Famous Minstrel and Plantation Songs, Including the Most Popular of the Celebrated Foster Melodies, Arranged with Piano-Forte Accompaniment."  Yes, all that's really there!  This is not a Civil War collection, but contains the most popular songs sung by both sides during the era of the war, with a few wartime pieces like "Kingdom Coming" and "Wake Nicodemus."
The book was published by Oliver Ditson Company in the early 1880's, and is a single-volume compendium of previously-published sheet music editions of some major minstrel songs.  There are a few late songs, but the vast majority of songs are 1840's to early 1860's.  The book stayed in print until at least 1910, meaning that a tremendous number of copies was produced.  As of this moment (evening 8/17/14), there are 10 original copies for sale on Ebay.  (There is a recent reprint edition available, but the ad contains a disclaimer that the reproduction may have "missing or blurred pages" and other problems.)
If you're willing to take a lower quality original copy (more usable than collectible), you can possibly pick one up for under $30, a real bargain in my opinion.  It has not only 19th century arrangements, but actual 19th to early 20th century copies (depending on year of printing of your copy) of almost 100 period songs, including "Camptown Races," "Dixie's Land," "History of de World/Walk in de Parlor," "Jingle Bells" (yeah, it was a minstrel song), "Kingdom Coming," "Oh Susanna," "Old Dan Tucker," and a bunch of other old standards.
 ***

I thank William Craig for his suggestions.  Thought I ought to see if any of those books are online since Dover republishes public domain material.  Even if it's not online, you probably can borrow a copy through your library's interlibrary loan service.  I like to see a book before buying and borrowing is an excellent way to do it.   

The Civil War Song Book is by Richard Crawford and contains 37 songs.  Along the way I found The Music of the American Civil War which has MIDI files sequenced by Benjamin Robert Tubb based on the book by Crawford and also gives a link to his other Civil War music page.  Since Tubb's first site has 37 songs, I presume all of them are in The Civil War Song Book

The Stephen Foster Song Book of course is by Stephen Foster, but the Dover book, besides having the sheet music for 40 original songs adds an introduction and notes by Richard Jackson, who selected the songs.  Bet you wonder what 40 songs are in the book.  It contains:
  • Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway!
  • Beautiful Dreamer
  • Better Times Are Coming
  • Camptown Races (Gwine to Run All Night)
  • Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming
  • Don't Bet Your Money on de Shanghai
  • Down Among the Cane-Brakes
  • Gentle Annie
  • Gentle Lena-Clare
  • The Glendy Burk
  • Hard Times Come Again No More
  • If You've Only Got a Moustache
  • Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair
  • Maggie by My Side
  • Massa's in de Cold Ground
  • My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night
  • My Wife Is a Most Knowing Woman
  • Nelly Bly
  • Nelly Was a Lady
  • Nothing But a Plain Old Soldier
  • Oh! Susanna
  • Old Black Joe
  • Old Dog Tray
  • Old Folks at Home
  • Old Uncle Ned
  • Open Thy Lattice Love
  • Ring de Banjo
  • Some Folks
  • The Song of All Songs
  • That's What's the Matter
  • There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea
  • There's a Good Time Coming
  • Thou Art the Queen of My Song
  • The Village Maiden
  • The Voices That Are Gone
  • Way Down in Ca-i-ro
  • We Are Coming, Father Abraam, 300,000 More
  • When This Dreadful War Is Ended
  • Willie Has Gone to the War
  • Wilt Thou Be Gone, Love?
I noticed some Stephen Foster songs I expected to be in the book aren't.
 Popular Songs of Nineteenth-Century America is the Dover book currently out of print, although Dover sometimes brings them back into print.  The book, however, can sometimes be found on out-of-print booksites, including my favorite, Better World Books, which does so much for literacy and also is a great resource to libraries after any book sales.  It contains a lot including some Stephen Foster songs not in the Stephen Foster Song Book. Since listing songs can be so important, here are the 64 songs for this book:
• All quiet along the Potomac tonight • Adeste fideles • Ain't I glad I got out de wilderness (down in Alabam) • America • The Arkansas traveler • Aura Lea • The battle cry of freedom • Battle hymn of the republic • Beautiful river • Ben Bolt • The blue tail fly • The bonnie blue flag • Camptown races • Carry me back to old Virginny • Champagne Charlie • Darling Nelly Gray • Der deitcher's dog • Dixie's land • Down in Alabam' • The flying trapeze • Glory, glory, Hallelujah • Goober peas • Grandfather's clock • Gwine to run all night • Home! Sweet home! • I'll take you home again, Kathleen • In the evening by the moonlight • Jim crack corn • Jingle bells • Johnny get your gun • Just before the battle, Mother • Kingdom coming • Listen to the mocking bird • The little brown jug • Long, long ago • Lorena • Marching through Georgia • Maryland, my Maryland! • My country! 'Tis of thee • My old Kentucky home • The ocean burial • Oh, dem golden slippers! • Oh my darling Clementine • Oh! Susanna • Oh where, Oh where has my little dog gone • Old black Joe • Old Dan Tucker • Old folks at home • The old oaken bucket • Old Rosin the beau • Pop goes the weasel • The prisoner's hope • Reuben and Rachel • Rock'd in the cradle of the deep • Shew! Fly, don't bother me • Silver threads among the gold • Sweet by and by • Sweet Genevieve • Tenting on the old camp ground • There is a tavern in the tavern • Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! • Vive la compagnie • Wait for the wagon • Way down upon the Swanee River • We won't go home till morning • When I saw sweet Nelly home • When Johnny comes marching home • When you and I were young, Maggie • Whispering hope • Woodman! Spare that tree! • The yellow rose of Texas • Zip Coon
PHEW!  That's a LOT!

I didn't expect minstrel songs to have as much popularity beyond reenactments, but then saw "Old Dan Tucker" in that company.  Finding "Jingle Bells" started as a minstrel song REALLY surprises me.  It's worth noticing both Dan Emmett and Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy and Minstrel Songs Old and New have gone through more than one edition, so I may be overlooking some possible material by figuring minstrel show music was very limited.  The librarian in me says it's great that libraries can borrow from each other for me.

Program Alert:
All this talk about Civil War music was started as I look ahead to Historic Fort Wayne's annual Civil War Days on September 13 and 14 of this year.  Liberetta Lerich Green was a teenager during the war and like many a young girl still enjoyed dances and special times even though the number of boys her age or those of her slightly older brothers were reduced.  Come hear how things were here in Michigan during the Civil War . . . including the music.

UPDATE:
Comments here aren't as obvious as I might wish.  In the box at the bottom where the various tags are listed it lists the number of comments and you have to click on them.  Jerry McGaha left one worth catching:

Jingle Bells, yes...but not done to the exact tune we use today, in fact somewhat difficult to vocalize.

Thank you, Jerry.  Not yet seeing the book made that something impossible to know without your comment.

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    The Burning of Washington, D.C.

    On August 19 I caught a show on National Public Radio worth sharing with everyone.  Breaking: British Burn Washington is done in the style of breaking news from the battlefront with various correspondents and even debating "experts" about whether the War of 1812 should have been undertaken.  (If the NPR link is confusing because of other current news archived with it, be sure to look for "Breaking.")  Two hundred years ago the young United States fought this "Second War of Independence" from Britain.  NPR was a bit premature as the date was August 24 according to everything I have found.  The War of 1812 is often overlooked among other U.S. conflicts, so the Bicentennial reminds us just how close we came to losing.
    Listening to the program it was easy to imagine the horror of that historic day.  My own historical programs look at "History as seen by the 'average' person" as opposed to the many people who portray famous people.  If anyone famous would entice me, it's Dolley Madison.  Back when I did three articles specifically on the War of 1812 I mentioned her in 12 Reasons to Remember the War of 1812 (reason 9), but 13 Resources to Remember the War of 1812 (resource 10) took us to pages 14 to 17 of "The Burning of Washington" by Anthony S. Pitch published in White House History (Fall of 1998), an article that also gives a "You Are There" feeling to how the day went.  For some unusual facts about this special First Lady and a sidebar taking you to resources about her, I recommend the FAQ page of The Dolley Madison Project.  Hearing the radio program, with it's excellent feeling of being in the midst of the burning of Washington, it hit me: I've ancestors named Dolley!  I ought to look and see how close to the war years they were born.  That sidebar I mentioned includes a page about her name and makes me more convinced than ever her name was chosen by members of my mother's family because of Dolley Madison.  She wasn't Dorothy or Dorothea, no matter how much others might try to make her that.  She was Dolley.  So were they.  It wasn't a nickname, nor was it Dolly.
    Engraving of Dolley Payne Madison done in 1812 by ?William Chappell. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

    Here in Michigan The Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 has resources to know more about it's impact here.  Wikipedia has a page of links to both Canadian and State Bicentennial resources.

    The final page of Anthony Pitch's article discusses looting after the burning of the President's House (not yet called the White House) and the Capitol.  Looking at other news on the N.P.R. archive of the same day, looting and international threats against the United State are in the news.  There are many quotes about history repeating itself.  General Patton said: Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.

    Just to show the issue is still touchy,  UPDATE:

    British embassy apologizes after tweet joking about burning the White House during the War of 1812 (Be sure also to read the Huffington post article, "Torch of Friendship" mentioned in the sidebar.)

    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    Finding Old-Time Music

    Stephen Foster
    I do many historical programs and often include music. I need to find resources guaranteeing when a song was sung. Music, like literature, accumulates like a snowball.  Some older songs die out, but many remain and new songs are added to the repertoire.  Here on this site, Civil War music includes a list of songbooks primarily war related, but the popular exception comes with Stephen Foster's songs, which avoid the focus of that conflict and Foster died near the war's end. Their timing and continued popularity cannot be overlooked.  Richard Jackson created for Dover the Stephen Foster Song Book.

    Another Dover book mentioned in my article was Theodore Raph's  American Song Treasury listing 100 songs with brief introduction.  The contents are praised in Amazon reviews, but not its layout if you wished to perform directly from it.   It's a paperback now with a Kindle edition, so that might change the complaint.


    Maymie R. Krythe's Sampler of American Songs is a hardback which is less a songbook, although the music is given, but the subtitle reveals its true value: Background and Lore Connected with 18 of Our Most Famous and Beloved American Songs.  They aren't all old songs, but 14 of them are, including some of that war material to give information about songs.  Although she only gives a few songs, Krythe goes into more background on songs than is mentioned in song anthologies.




    A similar book, but covering far more songs, is Frank Luther's Americans and Their Songs.  He chronologically covers from earliest colonial times up to 1900, listing year written and published, the period when popular, and association with a period or group, or with a famous person, place, or event in American history throughout the 19th century and into the present. 

    Earlier I also mentioned Ballads & Songs of the Civil War by Jerry Silverman as it is generally well-regarded, but revised my opinion after I discovered an interesting contradictory view from a music historian who noted the book would be better labeled "arrangements." His review states, "I once owned a copy of Silverman's CW songbook, but threw it away after noting the number of times it re-worded lyrics.  It is a secondary source at best, and should not be used if you are going for detailed authenticity."  He sited the two books from Dover Publications which opened this article.  He further noted, "For their books they actually photographed original sheet music specimens, qualifying them as primary sources for research."

    In talking about the situation of arrangements versus primary sources the Library of Congress came up.  Their Music page can take you to a wide assortment of downloadable "old-time" sheet music of Public Domain songs at the bottom of the Music page.  Lyrics are also given in addition to photocopies of the original covers.  If you are trying to location the actual music, use "notated music" for your search term and then search within that.  Civil War music was often Marches and Military Music.  That section is just up from the bottom of the page.  Notice also "We'll Sing to Abe Our Song" among the sheet music as it's part of the Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana which is also online. Later I'll mention a Lomax book.  The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip is online, too, but the book by Alan Lomax covers all regions. 
    Don't you love that the library is open 24/7 online?!?  If I was to choose the spot where my taxes went, it would be the Library of Congress and maybe also the museum collections online.

    Yet another resource can be Google Images, but you need to note the song you are seeking.  Here are only 2 of my results when I requested "Bicycle Built for Two." 












    Among instruments I play are the guitar and dulcimer.  They might have been played by a schoolteacher due to relative affordability and portability.  Some schools even managed pump organs or an upright piano, but those were more likely in well-established communities and not for the pioneers.  Mark Nelson's Favorite Old-Time American Songs for Dulcimer and Albert Gamse's The Best Dulcimer Method--Yet! give dulcimer tablature and also the chords, so they can work for guitar, too.

    Three other good basic works are Alan Lomax's Folk Songs of North America which groups over 300 songs by region and topically within a region. Poet Carl Sandburg's American Songbag is nearly as large, but is only grouped topically, making it less easy to find by period.  Lomax's regional grouping is slightly better due to the way regions were settled.  The Fireside series from Simon and Schuster has editor Margaret Bradford Boni grouping 131 songs from 1890 back to colonial times in Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs.

    It's great to know a bit about historical songs when creating a historical program.  It's a requirement to know IF a song fits the era you are doing and IF any changes have been made.  Songs of the past use the folk process and so changes can be especially tricky to discover.   In that October 19, 2011 article on Civil War music I mentioned one such change: how the Hutchinson Family Singers took "Old Rosin the Beau" and made it an Abolition movement song, "Roll on the Liberty Ball" and later Lincoln's campaign song, "Lincoln and Liberty, Too."  Would that all changes were so easily traced!  Still the books listed above give some good basic resources.

    May old-time music enrich your life and any storytelling.  In the meantime I'm looking ahead to my next segment of Keeping the Public in Public Domain.  (Those Dover books are a perfect example of the value of Public Domain.)