Nora Carpenter Traditional Music Collection
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Catalog Record (BANC)
Series I - Biographical Material and Photographs
Series II - Manuscript Song and Poetry
Series III - Clippings and Other Published
Series IV - Reel to Reel Audio Recordings
Access and Use
Provenance: The collection was given to Berea College
in October, 2007 by Nora Carpenter’s daughters, Charlotte
Thompson and Carolyn Cravens of Lexington, Kentucky.
Access: There are no restrictions on the collection other than
federal copyright regulations.
Preferred Citation: Nora Carpenter Traditional Music Collection,
Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.
This collection consists of song lyrics, poems, and sound recordings
authored or collected by Nora E. Carpenter of Magoffin County,
Kentucky, mostly during the period 1920 - 1960. It also includes
numerous clippings of song lyrics, poetry, and community history
from a wide variety of print sources, both loose leaf and pasted
in a scrap book. There are also a few song books published by regional
country music radio performers during the 1940s and 1950s.
Nora Owens Carpenter (1888-1975) was a formidable presence for
many years in the Salyersville - Magoffin County area of eastern
Kentucky. Married to Morgan Green Carpenter in 1907, she was a
mother of five, businesswoman, and onetime postmaster. However
for many in her home community, she is best remembered as a talented,
traditional musician (banjo and harmonica) and topical song writer.
She and her string band, “Big Mamma and the Half Mountain
Hotshots,” had a strong following on Paintsville radio station,
WSIP during the 1940s and early 1950s. Despite this local appreciation,
she seems to have been overlooked by the many folklore scholars
who traveled through Kentucky at various times during the 1900s.
||Biographical Material and Photographs
This series consists of newspaper clippings, photographs, and
a Magoffin County, Kentucky Historical Society publication.
|| Manuscript Song and Poetry Texts
|| Box 1, cont.
This series consists of manuscript material, hand written and
typed, most of which is dated and ranges from 1912 through the
1950s. The largest portion comes from the late 1940s and early
1950s. Some include the notation, "composed by Nora Carpenter" and
in few instances copyright is claimed. Others are clearly transcriptions
of well known published compositions. Recurring themes in her composed
repertoire include such broad areas as lost love, family life,
and death along with references to such contemporary events as
World War Two, the Korean War, and the Floyd County, Kentucky school
|| Clippings and Other Published Material
|| Box 2
This series consists of numerous clippings of song lyrics, poetry,
and community history from a wide variety of print sources, both
loose leaf and pasted in a scrap book. There are also a few song
books published by regional country music radio performers during
the 1940s and 1950s.
|| Reel to Reel Audio Recordings
|| Box 3
This series consists of 11 reel-to-reel audio tapes, seven of
which were recorded by Nora Carpenter during the 1960s-1970s for
the purpose of documenting her repertoire and playing for various
family members who no longer lived nearby. Of the four remaining
tapes, two contain copies of commercial recordings, one is a WSIP
radio program tribute to Nora Carpenter by Hatler Johnson, and
the other is an audio letter to Nora Carpenter from relatives in
Arizona. The recordings by Nora Carpenter have been digitized for
preservation and CD copies are available for listening.
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