Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Nora Carpenter Traditional Music Collection
 

SAA 108
Nora Carpenter Traditional Music Collection
1920-1972
1 Linear Foot
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Overview
History
Series Description
Series I - Biographical Material and Photographs
Series II - Manuscript Song and Poetry Texts
Series III - Clippings and Other Published Material
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.

Related Archives

Overview

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.

History

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.

Series Description
3 Manuscript Boxes

Series I Biographical Material and Photographs Box 1

This series consists of newspaper clippings, photographs, and a Magoffin County, Kentucky Historical Society publication.

Series II 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 bus tragedy.

Series III 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.

Series IV 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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