Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Katherine Jackson French Ballad Collection

Accession Number: 4
Katherine Jackson French Ballad Collection, 1980
.4 linear ft.
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Series Description
Series I - Correspondence and Miscellaneous
Series II - Ballad Manuscripts
Series III - Manuscript of “A Fortnight in Ballad Country”
Series IV - Biographical Information

Access and Use

Provenance: The ballads in the Katherine Jackson French collection were given to Berea College in the early 1950s as a centennial gift by Ms. French. There are no restrictions placed on this collection other than federal copyright regulations.

Preferred Citation: Katherine French Ballad Collection, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.

Related Archives


This collection comprises the ballads Katherine Jackson French collected in the early 20th century from Kentucky mountain residents and some Berea students. In addition to collecting ballads, French researched variants of the the ballads she collected and included the variants for comparison with the newly collected versions in a manuscript she hoped to publish. The collection also includes correspondence with Berea’s President Frost and others interested in her project, plus notes, an article, some pictures, and biographical information.


Katherine Jackson was born in London, Kentucky, and attended Ohio Wesleyan University. She completed a PhD at Columbia University in 1905 and taught literature at Mount Holyoke and Bryn Mawr colleges. Her interest in ballads began at Columbia when she heard two instructors from Berea talk about the many ballads in the mountains of Kentucky that no one had collected.

In 1909 Jackson returned to Kentucky because her mother was ill. That year she made her first trip into the hills to search for ballads. The following year she conversed with James Watt Raine, an English professor at Berea College, and picked up some student ballads. Early in 1911 she sent her ballad manuscripts to President Frost with the hope that he could find a publisher. By this time she had married and become Katherine Jackson French.

President Frost returned the ballad manuscripts to Dr. French in 1915, unpublished. Forty years later, when preparations were being made for the College’s 1955 Centennial, French made a centennial gift of the ballad manuscript and associated papers. The Katherine Jackson French Collection became part of the initial formation of the Southern Appalachian Archives at Berea College’s Hutchins Library.

Series Description
1 Manuscript Box

Series I Correspondence and Miscellaneous Box 1

This series includes correspondence from French to Berea College’s president, William Frost, concerning the publication of the ballad manuscript: English-Scottish Ballads from the Hills of Kentucky.

Series II Ballad Manuscripts Box 1, cont.

Collected and edited by Katherine Jackson French, four manuscript versions of English-Scottish Ballads from the Hills of Kentucky are contained in this series.

Series III Manuscript of “A Fortnight in Ballad Country” Box 1, cont.

A corrected copy, in manuscript form, of “A Fortnight in Ballad Country” by French is included in this series, as are several typed copies.

Series IV Biographical Information Box 1, cont.

This series includes a brief biography of French typed on the reverse side of a handwritten letter from French to Elisabeth Peck, college historian.

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