One of my favorite activities when I’m sitting at the reference desk waiting for a student to ask me a question is to explore new books. Sometimes we’ll have a cart full of new reference books waiting to go; other times I’ll use the catalog’s “new items” section to search for newly received books or videos. One fairly new release is The Foxfire 45th Anniversary Book: Singin’, Praisin’, Raisin’. [Ekstrom Library 3rd floor book stacks F106 .F695 2011]
This anniversary book is part of the Foxfire series which started out as a student writing exercise by a new teacher in a Georgia school. He asked his students what they could do to make learning English interesting. They decided to start a magazine in which they would write articles based on community interviews. In addition to capturing their interest the assignment captured aspects of a disappearing culture – from dressing hogs to making quilts. Many of the magazine’s articles were later published as books. While we don’t have the whole series we do have a number of the books, including:
- The Foxfire book: hog dressing, log cabin building, mountain crafts and foods, planting by the signs, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, moonshining, and other affairs of plain living
- Foxfire 2: ghost stories, spring wild plant foods, spinning and weaving, midwifing, burial customs, corn shuckin’s, wagon making and more affairs of plain living
- Foxfire 3: animal care, banjos and dulcimers, hide tanning, summer and fall wild plant foods, butter churns, ginseng, and still more affairs of plain living
- Foxfire 4: fiddle making, springhouses, horse trading, sassafras tea, berry buckets, gardening, and further affairs of plain living
- Foxfire 7: Ministers, church members, revivals, baptisms, shaped-note and gospel singing, faith healing, camp meetings, footwashing, snake handling, and other traditions of mountain religious heritage
- Foxfire 9: general stores, the Jud Nelson wagon, a praying rock, a Catawban Indian potter, haint tales, quilting, home cures, and the log cabin revisited
- Foxfire 10: railroad lore, boardinghouses, Depression-era Appalachia, chair making, whirligigs, snake canes, and gourd art
Besides being a great way to learn about Appalachian culture, the books have been praised as instructional tomes on all kinds of skills from fiddle making to horse trading.
 The Foxfire Fund, “Foxfire Magazine” http://www.foxfire.org/magazine.html. [Accessed January 29, 2013.]
Today’s guest blogger is Mark Dickson from the Music Library.
With the approach of New Year’s Day in mind, have you ever wanted to fulfill a resolution of learning to play a musical instrument? The secret to success is commitment and a good teacher. However, a good teacher does not necessarily have to be a human being in the very beginning.
Music method books are the lesson books music teachers normally assign to their students. They start at beginning experience levels and progress to intermediate and advanced levels.
The Music Library has a generous selection of self-instruction method books for a wide range of instruments and voice. There have been self-instruction books for adult learner piano students for years, but publishers have started publishing for a market of adults wanting to learn instruments in bluegrass, blues, rock, Irish, and gospel styles.
All of the Music Library method books circulate normally outside of the library and can be found in the library catalog. A basic search using: [self-instruction and music] within [All Fields] will reveal a world of self-guided music learning resources available to all University Library borrowers.
- Appalachian dulcimer–Methods–Self-instruction
- Bluegrass music–Instruction and study
- Piano–Methods (Gospel)–Self-instruction
Come to the Music Library and ask at the Circulation Desk for more help and see what new experiences you can uncover!
Today’s guest blogger is James Procell, Assistant Director of the Music Library.
Harriett “Hattie” Bishop Speed, wife of Louisville philanthropist James Breckenridge Speed, was a widely-known and well-respected pianist, teacher, humanitarian, and philanthropist. Born February 12, 1858 in Louisville, Hattie’s father, William Bishop, was the proprietor of the Louisville Hotel, as well as the co-proprietor of the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville. Her early music studies took place both in Louisville and Boston, and she made her debut when she was only thirteen, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20 with the Musical Fund Society Orchestra. She continued her studies in Berlin and Italy before returning home to Louisville in 1892.
Upon her return, she began her duties as a local piano teacher while still continuing to perform regularly. In July 1906, at age 48, Hattie married prominent local businessman James B. Speed. Six years later, Mr. Speed passed away, and Hattie inherited his immense fortune, including their home at 505 W. Ormsby Ave. This residence would soon become an epicenter of musical activity in Louisville for the next four decades. This sprawling Victorian mansion, containing more than 48 rooms and 20 fireplaces, was built in 1885 by well-known Louisville contractor Dexter Belknap. Upon her husband’s passing in 1912, Mrs. Speed expanded the home by adding a music room/concert hall. The room, completed in 1916, was 50 feet long and 30 feet wide. It contained a large stage, beautifully appointed furniture and decor, and four Baldwin concert grand pianos. As seen in the photo, the interior walls of the stage were constructed so that there were no right angles, thus allowing for the best possible acoustics. Mrs. Speed hosted countless concerts and recitals in her home throughout the remainder of her life.
In addition to her countless contributions to music in Louisville, Mrs. Speed also contributed her time and money to other areas. In 1925, she founded the Speed Art Museum at 2035 S. 3rd St., and served as its first president and director. This institution remains the oldest and largest art museum in Kentucky. She immensely supported African American institutions, including the Red Cross Hospital at 1436 S. Shelby St., and the Plymouth Settlement House at 1626 W. Chestnut St. In addition, she served seven terms as president of the Kentucky Humane Society.
Mrs. Speed died from a heart attack at age 84 on August 8, 1942, but her legacy remains present in Louisville today. Many of her personal items, including postcards, sheet music, photographs, and concert programs, form the Hattie Bishop Speed Collection at the UofL Dwight Anderson Music Library.
Mrs. Speed’s former home on Ormsby Street currently serves as a law office. Though much of the home has been renovated over the years, many of the original exterior and interior features remain. (It has been reported by some that the building is haunted with the presence of Hattie!)
Kleber, John E. The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
A History Channel miniseries on the legendary Hatfield and McCoy feud is drawing renewed attention to that chapter in Appalachian history. Many local news outlets have seized this opportunity to promote tourism to the region.
Eastern Kentucky native Jean Thomas (1881-1982) celebrated the musical traditions, dialect, folkways, costumes, legends, and lore of the mountain people through an annual American Folk Song Festival as well as writings and photographs.
Her photo collection, donated to the University of Louisville’s Photographic Archives in 1968, is available online on our Digital Collections website. It includes photos of Hatfield and McCoy descendents as well as kin of the lesser-known Tolliver-Martin Feud of Rowan County, Kentucky. She seemed to enjoy reuniting the formerly feuding families for photo opportunities.
The online finding aid for Jean Thomas’ papers, housed in the University of Louisville’s Dwight Anderson Music Library, reveals that she wrote several pieces about the feuding families, and collected lyrics to songs documenting their stories.
American Song is a history database that allows people to hear and feel the music from America’s past. Songs by and about American Indians, miners, immigrants, slaves, anti-war protests, the Civil War, and more are included.
For those of you interested in folk music or music history the Jean Thomas Collection is a must-see. Known as the Traipsin’ Woman, Jean Thomas traveled around Eastern Kentucky photographing and writing about the music and crafts of the region.
Over 1000 photographs taken by Jean Thomas are available online at: http://digital.library.louisville.edu/collections/jthom/index.php. Some of my favorite shots are of the musicians with their instruments – from guitars and banjos to concertinas and jugs.
The Music Library has more materials from Jean Thomas, including lyrics, poems, brochures and more from the American Folk Song Festival which she organized.