The Berea Tune Lists: An Archival Resource for the Study of Social Music in Eastern Kentucky and East Tennessee in 1915

Abstract: In 1915, students in an English class at Berea College were asked to write down the names of banjo and fiddle songs and tunes known to them in their home districts of Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. Today, these lists are found among the papers of Professor John F. Smith in the Southern Appalachian Archives at Berea College's Hutchins Library. Taken as a whole, the lists offer valuable insights concerning the repertory of traditional musicians in a mixed physiographic region on the western edge of Appalachia prior to the radio era of the 1920s when regional styles and local tunes began to give way to ever more popular pieces picked up from broadcasts, phonograph records, and traveling professionals.

The web version of this article has been modified slightly from the print original published in Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 57:2 (1995) 39-68. The changes are mostly related to formatting and appearance; no changes have been made to the content.

The 1915 Berea Tune Lists — Article (PDF)

The 1915 Berea Tune Lists — List Documents (PDF)

The 1915 Berea Tune Lists — Map of Kentucky Counties (JPG)