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Frank Clyde Brown Recordings

A guide to the digital collection.

Related collections

  • Frank Clyde Brown Papers, 1912-1974, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.  Materials related to Brown's folk collecting, and including the research of Charles Bond, a Duke graduate student who analyzed the collection and transferred a portion of the materials to magnetic tape.
  • Frank C. Brown Papers, 1899-1943, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.  Materials related to Brown's career as an educator and administrator at Duke.
  • Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folk Songs, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.  In 1944, Brown's recordings were sent to the Library of Congress, where they were copied to glass lacquer phonodiscs for preservation purposes.  The Library made two copies, keeping one (on 16-inch discs) and sending one (on 12-inch discs), with the originals, back to Duke University.
  • Frank Clyde Brown Collection, 1936-1971, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill. Digital copies of tape transfers of a portion of the Brown collection made by Charles Bond, a Duke graduate student.  Original materials available in Duke's Brown collection.
  • Clare Leighton Papers, 1940-1968, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.  Includes the woodblocks Leighton created for the illustrations found in the seven-volume Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore.
  • Maude Minish Sutton Papers, 1917-1935, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.  Maude Minish Sutton was critical to Brown's collecting work. These materials contain writings and notebooks of Sutton's.  
  • W. Amos Abrams Papers, 1884-1984, Belk Library Special Collections, Appalachian State University.  Abrams, influenced by Brown as an undergraduate at Trinity College, became an English professor at Appalachian State Teachers' College and avid folksong collector, working closely with Brown and the North Carolina Folklore Society.
  • North Carolina Folklore Society Records, 1912-1999, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.  Brown founded the Society and was its secretary until his death in 1943.
  • The Frank and Anne Warner Papers, 1899-2000, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.  Frank Warner was a student of Brown's who went on to become a major folk song collector in his own right.
  • Newman Ivey White Papers, 1915-1948, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.  White, a colleague of Brown's at Trinity and Duke, served as the first editor of the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, from 1943 until his death in 1948.
  • Jan Philip Schinhan Papers, 1897-1970, 1999, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.  Schinhan, a music professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, had the monumental task of transcribing the tunes for volumes 4 and 5 of The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore.  This collection contains material related to his work on the Brown collection.

Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore

When Frank Clyde Brown died in 1943, his colleagues in folk collecting mourned their loss and questioned the future of Brown's by-then very large collection of recordings, transcripts, and notes, a significant portion of which had been given to Brown by fellow collectors.  Although proposed, promised, and labored over since the early days of the North Carolina Folklore Society, a volume on the folkways of the state had yet to appear, and Brown's possession of the source material was both a help and hindrance, for, while keeping this folk trove in a central place, even Brown admitted he was a completist who would rather collect than edit, and he was always on the trail of the next Child ballad that he could document appearing in North Carolina (in the end he logged 50).  Upon Brown's death the task of editing the material into digestible form fell to Newman Ivey White, Brown's colleague in the Duke department of English, a renowned Shelley scholar, and a North Carolina native with a keen interest in his home state's folklife.   He and a team of subject specialist/assistant editors sifted and classified an estimated 38,000 songs, stories, folkways, and games.  White died in 1948 having accomplished much, defining broad categories for the multi-volume work, commissioning Clare Leighton to create woodcut illustrations, and shepherding the first volumes near to the point of publication.  The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore was eventually published in seven volumes by Duke University Press between 1952 and 1964.

Biographies, articles, and other sources

  • W.E. King, "Frank Clyde Brown," NCPedia.
  • Dean Jeffrey, "Frank C. Brown and the Building of Duke University," Duke University Libraries Magazine, vol. 19 no. 1, 2005, pp. 14-19.
  • Daniel W. Patterson, "Maude Pennell Minish Sutton," NCPedia.
  • Daniel W. Patterson, "Newman Ivey White," NCPedia.
  • NC Jukebox. The NC Jukebox faculty/student project, sponsored by Bass Connections and the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke, used the tape transfers made by Charles Bond in the early 1970s to dive deep into the Frank Clyde Brown recordings and the people who made them.  Maps, biographies, family histories, and a selection of the recordings create a rich experience around a selection of the Brown recordings.