Ozark Folk Song Collection


Max Hunter Database:  2664 Ozark Folk Songs – By Dr. Michael F. Murray, editor of the Max Hunter Database, of Missouri State University

The Max Hunter Collection is an archive of almost 1600 Ozark Mountain folk songs, recorded between 1956 and 1976. A traveling salesman from Springfield, Missouri, Hunter took his reel-to-reel tape recorder into the hills and backwoods of the Ozarks, preserving the heritage of the region by recording the songs and stories of many generations of Ozark history. As important as the songs themselves are the voices of the Missouri and Arkansas folks who shared their talents and recollections with Hunter.

The Wolf Folksong Collection at Lyon College

John Quincy Wolf began collecting Ozark ballads while an undergraduate at Arkansas (now Lyon) college. His first serious professional interest in Ozark folksongs dates from his attendance at the Old Settler’s folk music festival at Blanchard Springs in 1941. He and his wife Bess began to seek out folksingers in the White River and surrounding areas, often placing advertisements in local newspapers for people who knew “old songs.” Wolf recorded hundreds of Ozark folksingers between 1952 and 1963, including Almeda Riddle, Neal Morris, Oscar and Ollie Gilbert, and Jimmy Driftwood. He observed how many of these singers would add their own adaptations to songs, and chronicled this in “Folksingers and the Re-Creation of Folksong” in Western Folklore. The Wolf Folksong Collection at Lyon College contains hundreds of recordings. Transcriptions are being added to this online collection on an ongoing basis.

University of Arkansas Folk Song Collection

The Ozark Folksong Collection, originally recorded and compiled between 1949 and 1965, is the largest and most complete collection of traditional music and associated materials from Arkansas and the Ozarks in the nation.  The physical collection contains audio recordings of songs, oral histories, anecdotes, and tales from over 700 performers.  In addition there are transcriptions of lyrics, and music notations. The contents illustrate a rich diversity of cultures, economic classes, and occupations.

Mary Celestia Parler tape recording Fred C. Smith and unidentified<br /><br />
musician in Oriole Barber Shop, Bentonville, Arkansas, ca 1950s.<br /><br />
Photo from Mary Celestia Parler Photographs, MC 896.

Mary Celestia Parler tape recording Fred C. Smith and unidentified musician in Oriole Barber Shop, Bentonville, Arkansas, ca 1950s.
Photo from Mary Celestia Parler Photographs, MC 896.

The online collection contains approximately 4000 transcriptions and over 4500 audio recordings.

The Traditional Ballad Index: An Annotated Bibliography of the Folk Songs of the English-Speaking World.

This data is provided by the California State University, Fresno.