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Collection Number: 20324

Collection Title: Karen Helms Pressley Collection, 1973-1990 (bulk 1975-1978)

This collection has access restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Size 4.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 115 items)
Abstract Ethnomusicologist Karen Helms Pressley was born in Union County, N.C. Classically trained in piano, organ, and voice, Pressley developed an interest in the preservation of old-time music and the oral tradition. The collection contains fieldwork relating primarily to the oral musical traditions of the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Union County, N.C., in south-central North Carolina. Outer Banks materials consist of recorded folk songs, stories, and interviews with residents, as well as interview transcripts, Pressley's essay on the oral traditions of the Outer Banks, and ballads and songs she collected. The Union County, N.C., materials consist of field recordings Pressley made documenting the oral musical traditions of Union County. Music includes church gospel, guitar blues, fiddle and banjo tunes, traditional ballad singing, and childrens' songs performed by Union County residents. Also included are other recordings made by Pressley, among them some with storyteller Bobby McMillon, recordings from western North Carolina and the Piedmont area, and recordings relating to music workshops and children's songs.
Creator Pressley, Karen Helms
Language English.
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
Use of audiotapes may require production of listening copies.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Karen Helms Pressley Collection #20324, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Provenance
Received from Karen Helms Pressley of Ft. Walton Beach, FL, in October 2000 (Acc. 98758) and July 2003 (Acc. 99574).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Ethnomusicologist Karen Helms Pressley was born in Union County, N.C. Classically trained in piano, organ, and voice, Pressley later developed an interest in the preservation of old-time music and the oral tradition. Her maternal grandfather, David Price, was a well-known folk fiddler.

Pressley received a Bachelor of Music degree from Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., and in 1974 a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology from East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. Her Master's thesis, "The Role and Function of Oral Tradition of Ballad Form as Related to the Society and Culture of Ocracoke Island," was based on fieldwork she conducted on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the early 1970s. Grants from the North Carolina Arts Council, 1976-1978, and the National Endowment of the Arts, 1978-1979, enabled her to conduct fieldwork in her native Union County, N.C.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The Karen Helms Pressley Collection contains fieldwork relating primarily to the oral musical traditions of the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Union County, N.C.

Outer Banks materials consist of recorded songs, stories, and interviews with residents, as well as interview transcripts, Pressley's essay on the oral traditions of the Outer Banks, and ballads and songs she collected. Pressley's essay pays particular attention to women sources on the Outer Banks. Also included is correspondence about a lecture on coastal folk music she gave in 1978 for the Man and the Seacoast lecture series, and historical information she compiled about Ocracoke Island. Several of the recordings were released on a Folkways LP, Between the Sound and the Sea: Music of the North Carolina Outer Banks, in 1977.

The Union County, N.C., materials consist of field recordings Pressley made documenting the oral musical traditions of Union County, N.C., located in south-central North Carolina. Music includes church gospel, guitar blues, fiddle tunes and banjo tunes, traditional ballad singing, and children's songs performed by Union County residents ranging in age from 10 to 88. Pressley's recordings were released as two LPs on the Folkways label: Hand Me Down Music-Old Songs, Old Friends: Traditional Music of Union County, North Carolina, Volume 1 (1979) and Volume 2 (1980).

Also included are other recordings made by Pressley, some of which appeared on North Carolina Sampler: Anglo-American Vocal Music from North Carolina. Pressley worked closely with storyteller  Bobby McMillon on the project, which included materials previously recorded for her Outer Banks fieldwork as well as recordings from western North Carolina and the Piedmont area. Other recordings include music workshops and children's songs.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Outer Banks, 1939-1990.

77 items.

Materials, 1939-1990 (bulk 1973-1976), related to Pressley's fieldwork documenting ballad traditions on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Pressley wrote her Masters thesis at East Carolina University, "The Role and Function of Oral Tradition of Ballad Form as related to the Society and Culture of Ocracoke Island," based on this work. Several of the recordings were released on a Folkways LP, Between the Sound and the Sea: Music of the North Carolina Outer Banks, in 1977.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Cassettes.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Open Reel Tapes.

20 items.

Recordings include interviews, songs, and conversations about ballads, particularly the folk music of Ocracoke Island. Pressley's original descriptions have been retained.

FT-11230: Mrs. C. K. Tillett, Dick Tillett, 1951 (pre-recorded) #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11231: Vernon Gaskill, lighthouse keeper, 1919-1939 #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11232: Bec Etheridge, old songs and ballads #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11233: Tillie Swindell (Mrs. Alan Etheridge), who kept Loren Wright, older brother to Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright, as a boarder, 1902-1903 #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11234: Charles Stowe of Hatteras, N.C. Conversation and songs. #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11235: Vernon Gaskill, Wanchese, N.C.; Pearl Scharff, Wanchese; Dick Tillett, Wanchese; Mildred Willis, Hatteras, N.C.; Edgar Howard, Ocracoke #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11236: Dick Tillet, old songs #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11237: Ken Bruggers concert, 4/5/75; Dick Tillett, interview, Wanchese; Dile Gallop, songs and interview, Wanchese #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11238: Dick Tillett, Wanchese, songs; Dile Gallop, Wanchese; Bec Etheridge, Manteo, N.C. #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11239: Dile Gallop, Wanchese #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11240: Record Copies Outer Banks Folk Music from Ocracoke, Hatteras(?), Manteo. Elizabeth Howard, Edgar Howard, Jule Garrish, Lawton Howard, Charles Stowe, Dick Tillett #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11241: Bec Etheridge, Dile Gallop, Dick Tillett #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11242: Ocracoke, Wanchese, Barco. #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11243: Songs: Dick Tillett, Wanchese; Bec Etheridge, Manteo #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11244: C. K. Tillett and Dile Gallop, 1940-1941 copy from Dick Tillett #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11269: Ocracoke: copy of original 1973 tape #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11270: Ocracoke: copy of original 1973 tape #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11271: Ocracoke: 4 July 1973 #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11272: Ocracoke: 4 July 1973 (recorded by natives on cassette). #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

FT-11273: Ocracoke: Etheridge, Gallop #20324, Subseries: "1.2. Open Reel Tapes."

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. Background Materials.

46 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3.1. Written Fieldwork, 1973-1978.

40 items.

Pressley's written fieldwork, including brief interview transcripts, an essay, "Oral Tradition on the N.C. Outer Banks," and collected ballads. Pressley pays particular attention to women ballad sources in the essay. The ballad collection consists of songs specific to the Outer Banks such as "Booze Yacht,"  "Tom Dan'ls," and "My Island Home," as well as versions of traditional ballads, including "Kitty Wells,"  "Barbara Allen," and "The Gypsy's Warning." Many ballads include source information.

Folder 1

Interviews and contacts #20324, Subseries: "1.3.1. Written Fieldwork, 1973-1978." Folder 1

Folder 2

"Oral Tradition on the N.C. Outer Banks." #20324, Subseries: "1.3.1. Written Fieldwork, 1973-1978." Folder 2

Folder 3

Collected ballads #20324, Subseries: "1.3.1. Written Fieldwork, 1973-1978." Folder 3

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3.2. Man and the Seacoast, 1978.

4 items.

Correspondence and schedule for the 1978 Man and the Seacoast lecture series, presented at the North Carolina Marine Resource Center. Pressley lectured on the folk music of the coast and the Outer Banks.

Folder 4

Man and the Seacoast lecture series #20324, Subseries: "1.3.2. Man and the Seacoast, 1978." Folder 4

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3.3. Ocracoke Island History.

2 items.

Facts and historical information about Ocracoke Island compiled by Pressley, including a historical timeline and her assessment of past and present musical traditions.

Folder 5

Ocracoke Island history #20324, Subseries: "1.3.3. Ocracoke Island History." Folder 5

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Union County, N.C., 1976-1980.

25 items.

Arrangement: original order was maintained.

Pressley's field recordings from Union County, N.C. Pressley received Folk Art grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council to conduct research and fieldwork documenting the oral musical traditions of Union County, located in south-central North Carolina. Music includes church gospel, guitar blues, fiddle tunes and banjo tunes, traditional ballad singing, and childrens' songs performed by Union County residents ranging in age from 10 to 88. Pressley's recordings were released as two LPs on the Folkways label: Hand Me Down Music-Old Songs, Old Friends: Traditional Music of Union County, North Carolina, Volume 1 (1979) and Volume 2 (1980). Pressley's original descriptions have been retained.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. Cassettes.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Open Reel Tapes.

18 items.

FT-11245: Henry Griffin, Flarrie Griffin, Otis High #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11246: Seena Helms, Wingate; Bascom Traywick, Marshville #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11247: Capadocia Holiness Church, Anson County, N.C. cassette side 1 and 2 #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11248: Capadocia Holiness Church, Anson County, N.C. cassette side 1 and 2 #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11249: Henry Griffin, Otis High, Flarrie Griffin #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11250: Seena Helms, Wingate, N.C. #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11251: Henry Griffin, Flarrie Griffin, Otis High #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11252: Bascom Traywick, banjo and fiddle #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11253: Karen Helms, Horace Helms, Bascom Traywick, Seena Helms, 11/3/1977 #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11254: Bascom Traywick, first interview #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11255: "Folk Music Sampler," 1977-1978 #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11256: John A. Bivens, Carolina Homeboys: Roy Pope, Alfred Thomas, Skip Henry #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11257: Carolina Homeboys: Roy Pope, Alfred Thomas, Skip Henry #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11258: Horace Helms Band: Pliney Purser, Harold Stegall, George Griffin; Bascom Traywick and George Griffin #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11259: Willie Hamilton, blues; Elizabeth Bivens, gospel #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11260: Taylor Sisters: Vernadine Robinson, Mae Helen Blakeney, Julia Arneathia Taylor, Patricia Taylor Hailey, Barbara Taylor, Regina Hall, Catherine Taylor; Donald Crowder #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11261: Hand Me Down II #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

FT-11262: Bascom Traywick #20324, Subseries: "2.2. Open Reel Tapes." Folder 5

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Materials, 1973-1995.

15 items.

Arrangement: original order was maintained.

Various recordings made by Pressley. Some appeared on Carolina Sampler: Anglo-American Vocal Music from North Carolina, released in 1992 by Global Village Music. Pressley worked with storyteller Bobby McMillon on the Carolina Sampler project, which included materials previously recorded for her Outer Banks fieldwork as well as recordings from western North Carolina and the Piedmont area.

Other recordings include music workshops and children's songs. Pressley's original descriptions have been retained.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.1. 8-Track Tape.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.2. Cassettes.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.3. Open Reel Tapes.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Items separated include sound recordings (8T-40, FS-6539 through FS-6558, FT-11230 through FT-11273), and documentation for sound recordings (SFC vertical files).

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