Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Leonard Ward Roberts Collection

Accession Number: 57
The Leonard Ward Roberts Collection
Papers and Sound Recordings 1949-1983
27.8 Linear Feet
44 Cassette Tapes
99 Reel Tapes
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Overview & Series Description
Series I - Biographical Information
Series II - Writings
Series III - Publications Edited by Leonard Roberts
Series IV - General Correspondence
Series V - Subject Files
Series VI - Ballad and Song Texts
Series VII - Student Folklore Collections
Series VIII - Games
Series IX - Regional Writers
Series X - Community Histories
Series XI - Folklore
Series XII - Folktales
Series XIII - Folksong Texts
Series XIV - Folkways
Series XV - Genealogy
Series XVI - Interviews
Series XVII - Indians
Series XVIII - Teaching Aids
Series XIX - Audio Tapes and Transcripts
Series XX - Card Files


These are the papers and sound recordings of Kentucky folklorist, Leonard Ward Roberts (1912-1983). They are constituted mainly of correspondence, writings, folklore narrative transcriptions, audio recordings, and photographs that document his folklore research, publication, editing, and teaching from 1945 to1983.

Related Berea College Archives

Josiah Combs Collection, 1910-1960, SAA 71
Nora Morgan Lewis Folktale Collection, SAA 96
Talitha Ethel Powell McClure Ballad Collection, 1915-1980, SAA 32
John F. Smith Traditional Music Collection, 1915-1940, SAA 5
D. K. Wilgus Folklore Collection, 1918-1989, SAA 67

Series Descriptions

Series I Biographical Information Box 1

This series consists of biographical information, interview transcripts, and photographs. A video-taped interview is located in Box 59.

Series II Writings Boxes 1A-6

This series consists of typescripts, correspondence, reviews and other printed material relating to several of Roberts' major publications.

Series III Publications Edited by Leonard Roberts Boxes 6-10

This series consists of materials relating to the literary magazines, Laurel Review (1963-69), Twigs (1971-79), and Cumberlands (1979-1983), that Roberts published while at West Virginia Wesleyan College and Pikeville College. It mainly includes correspondence with authors, writings submitted for publication, and business records.

Series IV General Correspondence Boxes 10-14

This series consists of correspondence dating from the 1950s through the early 1980s. Particularly notable subjects and/or correspondents include Alice and Cal Claudel, the Kentucky Arts Commission, the McCoy family, and Jesse Stuart.

Series V Subject Files Boxes 12-14

This series include newspaper clippings and other print materials on such subjects as craftsmen, Appalachian Blacks, Daniel Boone, Big Sandy River region, geography, remedies, feuds, religion, people and places.

Series VI Ballad and Song Texts Boxes 15-19

This series consists of a large number of ballad and ballad-like texts collected by both Roberts and his students. For items other than Child Ballad versions, Roberts used such topical classifications as "criminals," "murders," "tragedies," and "unfaithful lovers," to name only a few.

Series VII Student Folklore Collections Box 20

This series consists of unclassified folkways, songs, place names, and local histories, collected mostly by Roberts' students.

Series VIII Games Boxes 21-22

This series includes singing and rhymed games, parlor games, mixers, and games that require equipment.

Series IX Regional Writers Boxes 22-23

This series contains biographical information and correspondence relating to regional authors, such as Lillie Chaffin, Marietta Moore, Henry P. Scalf, and Jesse Stuart.

Series X Community Histories Boxes 24-25

This series includes historical accounts of personalities, place names, local legends, county and other community histories.

Series XI Folklore Boxes 25-27

This series includes babylore, Couch family stories, domestic pursuits, witchcraft, ghosts and magical practices.

Series XII Folktales Boxes 28-35

Material in this series can be classified under the broad categories of "General Tales," "Riddles" and "General Rhymes." Subjects include anecdotes, Civil War tales, characters, creatures, ghosts, supernatural stories, riddles, and rhymes used at home or school in children's games.

Series XIII Folksong Texts Boxes 36-37

This series consists of song texts with a wide variety of topics and types. A partial list of categories includes "criminals," "religion," "satire," "love," "disasters," "death," and "work," to name only a few.

Series XIV Folkways Boxes 37-39

This series includes material relating to beliefs, customs, recipes, speech, remedies, and superstitions.

Series XV Genealogy Box 39

This series includes Pike County, Kentucky genealogy material from the Mormon Archives and several student-compiled family genealogies.

Series XVI Interviews Boxes 39-40

This series includes notes/transcripts of interviews completed by Roberts and his associates with a variety of community writers and historians.

Series XVII Indians Box 40

This series includes articles, pamphlets and notes relating to Native American history and culture.

Series XVIII Teaching Aids Box 41

This series consists of course outlines, bibliographies, tests and other teaching aids relating to courses on folklore, mythology, games, and dance taught by Roberts.

Series XIX Audio Tapes and Transcripts Boxes 42-61

This series consists of reel-to-reel and cassette audio tape recordings of folklore narratives, instrumental music, and singing recorded by Roberts and his students beginning in 1949 and proceeding through the 1970s. Also included are audio and video recordings of Roberts' lectures, interviews, and storytelling 1973-1985. Tape contents are searchable by title, informant, and location via an in-house electronic database. A sampling of tales and music from these recordings are available for listening through the Digital Library of Appalachia.

Series XX Card Files Boxes 62-74

This series consists of a group of folklore narrative card files. Roberts' original classification scheme has been preserved. In some instances, however, it seems the scheme was not consistently adhered to. For three of the boxes, the classification process was not completed.

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