John Harrington Cox, Collector, Papers Regarding West Virginia Folklore, 1915-1936 A&M.0883

John Harrington Cox, Collector, Papers Regarding West Virginia Folklore, 1915-1936 A&M.0883


[logo]

West Virginia and Regional History Center

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown, WV 26506-6069
URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu

Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center

Repository
West Virginia and Regional History Center
Identification
A&M.0883
Title
John Harrington Cox, Collector, Papers Regarding West Virginia Folklore1915-1936
URL:
https://archives.lib.wvu.edu/ark:/22916/2613
Quantity
8.7 Linear Feet, Summary: 8 ft. 8 in. (20 document cases, 5 in. each); (1 document case, 2 1/2 in.); (1 flat storage box, 1 1/2 in.)
Location
West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/
Language
<language langcode="eng" encodinganalog="041">English</language>
Abstract
Papers of John Harrington Cox, collector of West Virginia folklore material. Includes manuscripts, typescripts, printed material, sheet music, and newspaper clippings regarding folk songs and folk tales collected by John Harrington Cox and the West Virginia Folklore Society. Some of this material was used by Cox in his Harvard University dissertation of 1923, titled The Ballads and Songs of West Virginia, as well as in his book Folk-Songs of the South, published in 1925 by Harvard University Press. There are also book draft typescripts, dissertation typescripts, and correspondence pertaining to the collection of folklore material by Cox and the West Virginia Folklore Society. For more detail, see the Scope and Content note. For more information on John Harrington Cox and his work with the West Virginia Folklore Society, see the Historical note.

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Preferred Citation

A&M 0883, John Harrington Cox, Collector, Papers Regarding West Virginia Folklore, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries.


Biographical / Historical

"John Harrington Cox (May 27, 1863 - November 21, 1945) was one of the pioneers in the field of American folk song scholarship. Cox was born in Madison County, Illinois. Educated at Brown and Harvard (Ph.D. 1923) universities, he received an appointment on the English Department faculty at West Virginia University in 1903. His early efforts at the university were devoted to the study of Old and Middle English, and Medieval literature, in which fields he achieved distinction as an educator, author, and editor.

Cox collected his first folk song in 1913. Two years later, on July 15, 1915, he presided over the founding of the West Virginia Folklore Society, serving as its first president, archivist, and editor. Though the society met formally only twice, it established a network of field collectors across the state that continued to function loosely under Cox's direction for many years.

During the early 1920s, Cox organized and edited an extensive body of the folk songs collected under the Society's auspices as the basis of his Ph.D. dissertation. Produced under the direction of the noted Harvard scholar, George Lyman Kittredge, the dissertation was published as Folk-Songs of the South by the Harvard University Press in 1925. The first major collection of American folk songs by an American editor to appear in print, the volume became a model in both its scholarship and format for many subsequent American folk song publications. Despite the title it consisted almost entirely of West Virginia songs.

In the years that followed, Cox prepared an extensive body of additional folk songs for publication. These materials remained in manuscript until they were published in 1939 by the National Service Bureau in two mimeographed volumes: Traditional Ballads Mainly From West Virginia, and Folk-Songs Mainly From West Virginia. Cox died in Morgantown."

From Cuthbert, John A. "John Harrington Cox." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 20 April 2015. Web. 17 March 2017 (see link in External Documents)

Scope and Contents

Papers of John Harrington Cox, collector of West Virginia folklore material. Includes manuscripts, typescripts, printed material, sheet music, and newspaper clippings regarding folk songs and folk tales collected by John Harrington Cox and the West Virginia Folklore Society. Some of this material was used by Cox in his Harvard University dissertation of 1923, titled The Ballads and Songs of West Virginia, as well as in his book Folk-Songs of the South, published in 1925 by Harvard University Press. There are also book draft typescripts, dissertation typescripts, and correspondence pertaining to the collection of folklore material by Cox and the West Virginia Folklore Society.

Series 1. Folklore Research Papers; ca. 1915-1930; boxes 1-13. This series includes manuscript, typescript, and printed folk songs, ballads, and folk tales collected by John Harrington Cox. Folk songs and ballads include lyrics and some sheet music. There are also riddles, superstitions, poems, counting-out rhymes, singing games, ghost stories, and folklore notes. Some of the material in this series was sent to Cox by members of the West Virginia Folklore Society, English class students, and various other interested persons. Boxes 7, 8, and 9 contain what may be typescripts for a book draft, which include non-religious and religious songs, negro lore, ballads, etc. Box 9, folder 1 contains materials pertaining to the West Virginia Folklore Society. Box 13 contains folklore research papers, most of which are contained in envelopes, with the name of the contributor written on the outside. Box 13 includes songs, stories, correspondence, etc.

The reason for the original numbering scheme of folders in boxes 1-6 is unknown, but may indicate a proposed order for publishing.

Series 2. Dissertation Draft; ca. 1923; boxes 14-18. This series includes a duplicate typescript of the doctoral dissertation that Cox submitted to Harvard University. He was granted his Ph.D. in 1923. Cox then used some of the material in this typescript to compile Folk-Songs of the South, published by the Harvard University Press in 1925.

Box 14 includes material for pp. 1-33.

Box 15 includes material for pp. 34-80.

Box 16 includes material for pp. 81-138.

Box 17 includes material for pp. 139-200, Appendix, and Index of Titles.

Box 18 includes pages 120-397. Page 120 begins Prose Tales/African American Tales. Page 138 begins Singing Games. Page 227 begins Traditional Ballads. Page 286 begins Miscellaneous Songs. Pages 398-446 are missing.

On the upper left corner of the folders in boxes 14-17, the second number in parentheses might indicate the intended order of items in the final draft.

Series 3. Correspondence; ca. 1915-1930; boxes 19-21. This series includes letters written to Cox. Most of the letters contain folklore research, including folk songs, ballads, and other material collected by various individuals for Cox and the West Virginia Folklore Society.

Series 4. Oversize; 1916-1936 and undated; box 22. This series includes sheet music and clippings. Clippings include original newspaper and magazine clippings, as well as photocopies of the originals. Topics of the clippings include folk songs, folklore, and the Hatfields and McCoys.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

  • Ballads
  • Cox, John Harrington, 1863-1945
  • Folk music
  • Folk songs.
  • Folklore
  • West Virginia Folk-lore Society