American Ballads and Songs

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other songs now part of traditional folk-song is attested by their incorporation into or mention in other dramas. Certainly many American songs owe their circulation to their introduction into plays (like After the Ball which was taken about the country in Hoyt's farce A Trip to Chinatown), or to their being taken through many states by bands of wandering singers. Many songs gained wide popularity through the agency of colored minstrel troupes. Johnny Sands was floated by itinerant bands like the Continental Vocalists and the Hutchinson Family, in the earlier half of the nineteenth century. In the Baggage Coach Ahead got its currency by being thrown on a curtain, with colored slides, in vaudeville programs.
There were, however, many other modes of diffusion and helps to vitality. Important were the "popular songsters," or small song books of various types, and the "broadsides," in sheet music form or containing the words alone, which were sold by itinerant vendors of patent medicine, or peddlers, or at booths established at fairs, or in the wake of circuses or of wandering entertainers. Many songs learned from singers in childhood at the schoolhouse linger in the memory when those of newer acquisition have been forgotten. Popular pieces of a religious or moralizing nature gained circulation at the camp meetings of revivalists, and many songs found their impetus at temperance gatherings. Western songs were sometimes handed on or launched at old settlers' picnics, or were sung at social gatherings at farms or ranches, or at the "play parties" and dances of young people. One of the most important sources of preservation and one which has afforded to collectors many of their best texts is the manuscript book, handed on from generation to genera­tion, into which songs have been transcribed from oral and other sources. Some newspapers have conducted

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III