ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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FOREWORD
I have known Dorothy Scarborough's wonderful song collections for nearly as long as I have been interested in folksong, but until called on to write this foreword I knew less about her than about any other folksong collector of similar stature. Those idiosyncratic books, On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs (Cambridge, 1925), and A Song Catcher in the Southern Highlands (New York, 1937), seem so much the product of a unique personality and yet tell us so little of the collector. There is so little autobiography, so little insertion of self, such a modicum of involvement with the people singing the songs, and yet such a strong "hand" dominating the composition.
Her many other books1 tell us little more. It is true that her nature-o.riented work, From a Southern Porch (New York, 1919), is written from the first person point of view and must be read as autobiographical. But the only thing it tells us about her which we otherwise would not know from her other works is that she loved the life that went by as viewed from a porch in Virginia (where she had her summer home).
Her life history we can glean from her obituaries, and from articles written about her2. But these only give us the outlines. Emily Dorothy Scarborough was born in Mount Carmel, Texas on January 27, 1878. Her father was a District Judge and quite a prominent member of the community (he served as trustee of Baylor University). She lived in Sweetwater from her fourth to her ninth years and from then on, in Waco. She went to Baylor
lThe Supernatural in Modern English Fiction, New York, 1917, (her Ph.D. Thesis); Fugitive Verses, Waco, 1912; From a Southern Porch, New York, 1919; In the Land of Cotton, New York, 1923; The Wind, New York, 1925; The Unfair Sex, 1925-6; Impatient Griselda, New York, 1927; Can't Get A Redbird, New York, 1929; The Stretch-berry Smile, Indianapolis, 1932; The Story of Cotton, New York, 1933; Compiled or edited: The Best Psychic Stories, 1920; Famous Modern Ghost Stories, New York, 1921; Humorous Ghost Stories, New York, 1921; Selected Short Stories of Today, New York, 1935.
aThis material was gathered from the following sources: Walter Prescott Webb (ed.), The Handbook of Texas, Vol. II, The Texas State Historical Society (Austin, 1952); Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement One, (New York, 1944), pp. 648-649; Mabel Cranfill, "Dorothy Scarborough," Texas Monthly, V. 4, (Sep­tember, 1929), p. 212 (her picture may be found on p. 146); Grace H. Leake, "Dorothy Scarborough," Hollands, (Feb., 1928), p. 5; The New York Times, November 8, 1935, p. 23; The Sweetwater Reporter, November 8, 1935, p. 1. My thanks to Mamie Helen Strieber for helping to assemble this data.
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