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MS Am 2446

Belden, Henry Marvin, 1865-1954, compiler. Missouri Folk-Lore Society ballads, songs, rimes, games, riddles, etc. collected between 1903 and 1917, 1916-1917: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Location: b
Call No.: MS Am 2446
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Belden, Henry Marvin, 1865-1954, compiler.
Title: Missouri Folk-Lore Society ballads, songs, rimes, games, riddles, etc. collected between 1903 and 1917,
Date(s): 1916-1917.
Quantity: 1 collection (1.5 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract: Typescripts and manuscript music of ballads and folk songs collected between 1903-1917 by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society. Compiled for publication by University of Missouri professor, Henry Marvin Belden.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Gift of Henry Marvin Belden; received: 1932 June 1. Recataloged from 25241.64*
Noted in collection master list in item (106) below: "Copy filed with Professor Kittredge for the Harvard Library, 1917." This material was most likely given to George Lyman Kittredge in 1917, but not deposited in the library until 1932.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Marvin Belden (1865-1954) was a native of Connecticut, received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, studied a year at the University of Strassburg, and taught a year at the University of Nebraska. In the fall of 1895, he came to the University of Missouri in Columbia as an assistant professor of English. In January of 1903, a club was organized on campus (later called the English Club) which marked the organizational beginning of the Missouri Folklore Society. Belden attended these meetings and was an active member. One of the activities of this club was to collect folksongs and ballads of Missouri, and these first efforts were published by Belden in his 1906 article, "Old country ballads in Missouri," in the Journal of American Folk-Lore, (July-September, 1906).
The Missouri Folk-Lore Society was officially organized on December 15, 1906, "to encourage the collection, preservation and study of folklore in the widest sense, including customs, institutions, beliefs, signs, legends, language, literature, musical arts, and folk arts and crafts of all ethnic groups throughout the State of Missouri." Belden was the club's secretary and he actively promoted the Society while continuing his research, publication, and collecting of ballads. In 1908 he took a leave of absence and went to England to do research on ballads in the British Museum. In 1910 and 1911 he was elected president of the American Folk-Lore Society.
He took a leave of absence from Missouri to study at Harvard University (1916-1917), where he produced a complete copy of the Missouri ballad collection (prior to publication) to give to George Lyman Kittredge, Gurney Professor of English Literature, for placement in the Harvard Library. A comparison of this typescript (which forms the described collection in this finding aid) and Belden's later published 1940 ballad volume, shows "few major changes in arrangement ... [but] many versions of songs included in the 1917 collection were not published in 1940. A small gathering of 'Negro Songs,' many collected by Goldy Hamilton in West Plains, were omitted altogether." Kittredge did published some of these Missouri ballads and songs in his article, "Ballads and Songs," in Journal of American Folk-Lore, 30 (July-September, 1917), but the actual publication of the entire set by Belden was delayed for various reasons until 1940 when he finally published: Ballads and songs collected by the Missouri folk-lore society, edited by H. M. Belden. Columbia: The University of Missouri, 1940. A new edition of this work was published in 1955, with a reprinting in 1973.
For additional details on the history of this material and on Belden's life, see: Susan L. Pentlin and Rebecca B. Schroeder. "H. M. Belden, the English Club, and the Missouri Folk-Lore Society," in Missouri Folklore Society Journal, VIII-IX (1986-1987). [Copy of article can be found in Houghton curatorial file.]


Materials were arranged in this order when received at repository. Arranged in the following series:

Scope and Contents

Includes typescripts (some with manuscript revisions and annotations by Henry Marvin Belden and some by George Lyman Kittredge) of ballad and folk song text. Also includes manuscript music for some songs, editorial comments by Belden concerning the origin of the texts, names of persons responsible for recollecting and collecting the ballads, and the location and date when each version was transcribed.


This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

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