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Louis Watson Chappell (1890-1981), Folklorist, Research Papers, Sound Recordings, and Other Material

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.2480

Scope and Contents

Initial Acquisition of 1977/03/24:

undated; 3 reels of microfilm; Transcriptions in musical notation of performances recorded and collected by Louis Watson Chappell of West Virginia folk musicians. The recordings from which these transcriptions were derived can be found in the folk music collection of the West Virginia and Regional History Center, in collection numbers 1-88 (see link to collection page in Instances).

Addendum of 1978/07/06: ca. 1930-1950; 9 ft. and disc recorder (14 five in. document cases; 3 ft. 2 in. of acetate discs; three pieces of disc recorder equipment) 646 aluminum discs and a corresponding set of copies on acetate discs containing original field recordings by Louis Watson Chappell of West Virginia folk musicians. Reformatted masters and user copies can be found in the folk music collection of the West Virginia and Regional History Center, in collection numbers 1-88 (see link to collection page in Instances). The original disc recorder equipment used to make these recordings is also in this addendum.

Addendum of 1987/08/05:

1815-1980; 14 ft. 10 1/2 in. (30 five in. document cases, 6 three in. flat storage boxes; seven 1 1/2 in. blue notebooks); The papers of Chappell contain correspondence, folk music and folklore research papers, and other material. The Chappell correspondence regards the collection of Appalachian folk music and the publication of his book "Traditional Songs of West Virginia". Folk music research papers include information regarding ballad texts, and transcriptions from field recordings he and others made of West Virginia folk musicians (including transcriptions in music notation of vocal and instrumental performances, and in text of ballad lyrics). Folklore includes superstitions, folk medicine, word origins, proverbs and sayings, place names, children's games and dances, riddles and jokes, folktales; and his research papers (notes and typescripts with handwritten corrections) regarding John Henry, a steel driver at the Big Bend railroad tunnel. Paper copy of folder-level container list for this addendum available in control folder.

Addendum of 2010/03/01:

-1941; 1/4 in. (25 pages in 1 folder); Outgoing letters by Louis Watson Chappell to Fletcher Collins regarding folk song collection and publication. See also WVRHC oral history collection 319:

319. JEANETTE SHULZ. Hundred, Wetzel County, WV, 27 March 1980.

An interview with Mrs. Shulz, daughter of Scott Phillips, conducted by John A. Cuthbert. Mrs. Shulz's gives her recollections of her father's musical activity -- stringbands, radio performances, and recordings made by L.W. Chappell. One reel (5") 3 3/4 ips, quality good. (R374)

Dates

  • 1815-1980

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

Special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

Louis Watson Chappell was born in Belvidere, North Carolina and educated in English Language and Literature at Wake Forest University (B.A.), and the University of Virginia (M.A.). Subsequent study was undertaken at Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and New York University. Receiving a faculty appointment at West Virginia University in 1922, Chappell embarked upon a career dedicated to documenting and preserving West Virginia's folk music, which proved to be highly significant. He began his study of traditional music a decade or so earlier as a ballad hunter in the North Carolina-Virginia tidewater region in which he had spent his youth. Some years later the results of his collecting in the area were published in a book entitled "Folk-Songs of Roanoke and the Albemarle" (Morgantown: Ballad Press, 1939). The folklorist's first major contribution to West Virginia folklore was an exhaustive investigation into the controversy surrounding the ballad "John Henry" and its distinction from "John Hardy." In 1933 the publication of a full-length study "John Henry: A Folk-Lore Study" (Jena. Frommansche Verlag) placed the celebrated steel driver at the Big Bend Tunnel in late 19th-century West Virginia. In 1937 Chappell purchased a disc recording machine similar to the one employed at the time by his colleague and friend, John A. Lomax.

Extent

23.9 Linear Feet (Summary: 23 ft. 10 3/4 in. (44 document cases, 5 in. each; 6 flat storage boxes, 3 in. each; 1 small collection file folder, 1/4 in.; 7 blue notebooks, 1 1/2 in. each; 3 ft. 2 in. of acetate discs; 3 pieces of disc recorder equipment); 3 reels of microfilm)

Overview

Research papers and sound recordings compiled by Louis Watson Chappell, an English Professor and folklorist at West Virginia University who collected, documented, and preserved West Virginia's folk music and folk traditions. He was born in Belvidere, North Carolina and educated in English Language and Literature at Wake Forest University (B.A.), and the University of Virginia (M.A.). Receiving a faculty appointment at West Virginia University in 1922, Chappell embarked upon a career dedicated to documenting and preserving West Virginia's folk music, which proved to be highly significant.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/

Separated Materials

Separated to the Rare Book Collection:

The British Minstrel: A Collection of the Most Esteemed and Popular English, Scottish and Irish Songs, the Best Duets, Catches, Chorusses, Glees, and Comics Recitations including All Dibdin's Admired Productions Vol. I; Sherwood, Jones and Company, 1824.

The British Minstrel: A Collection of the Most Esteemed and Popular English, Scottish and Irish Songs, the Best Duets, Catches, Chorusses, Glees, and Comics Recitations including All Dibdin's Admired Productions Vol. II; Sherwood, Jones and Company, 1824.

The British Minstrel: A Collection of the Most Esteemed and Popular English, Scottish and Irish Songs, the Best Duets, Catches, Chorusses, Glees, and Comics Recitations including All Dibdin's Admired Productions Vol. III; Sherwood, Jones and Company, 1825.

Aikin, J. B. The Christian Minstrel, A New System of Musical Notation, with a Collection of Psalm Tunes, Anthems, and Chant, 1846.

Campbell, Dame Olive and Cecil J. Sharp, editors. English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, 1917.

Bradbury, William B. The Singing School, Musical Notation, Plain Simple and Progressive, undated.

Brewster, Paul G. Ballads and Songs of Indiana, 1940.

Brown, Jessie H., Mattie M. Boteler, R. M. McIntosh, and H. R. Christie, editors. Songs of Service, 1896.

Griggs, John, editor. Grigg's Southern and Western Songster, 1832.

Hall, J. H. and J. H. Ruebush and E. T. Hildebrand. The Messenger of Song, 1893.

Mason, Lowell and Timothy B. Mason. The Sacred Harp, 1844.

Sargent, Child Helen and George Lyman Kittredge, editors. English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1904.

Seward, Theodore, assisted by Dr. Lowell Mason and William B. Bradbury. The Temple Choir, 1867.

Thompson, Stith. Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, Vol. 5, 1935.
Title
Louis Watson Chappell (1890-1981), Folklorist, Research Papers, Sound Recordings, and Other Material, 1815-1980
Author
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536