Community Music

Community Music session II
Community Music session

There are several opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to share traditional music together:

Informal and often impromptu Scottish & Irish sessions occasionally take place on campus and also Carol's Hungry Mind Café. Please contact Timothy Cummings for more information.

There are also monthly Scottish fiddle sessions being hosted by the Champlain Valley Scottish Fiddle Club, on the first Sundays of each month, beginning 2pm. More information, as well as their repertoire list, can be found on their website.

Shape-note singers typically gather either in town or on campus to sing selections from The Sacred Harp on second Sundays, from 1-3pm. Please contact Debby Moody for more information: moody.debby [at] gmail.com

 

Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection

Gift of Helen Hartness Flanders, 1941-1958

Mrs. Flanders and Mrs. Fairbanks

 

One of the nation's great archival collections of New England folksong, folklore, and balladry, the Flanders Ballad Collection was the lifework of Helen Hartness Flanders (1890-1972), of Springfield, Vermont.

In 1930, Mrs. Flanders, daughter of a former Governor of Vermont, wife of Ralph Flanders, Republican Senator from Vermont from 1946-1959, and a trained musician, was appointed by the Committee on Traditions and Ideals of the Vermont Commission on Country Life to spearhead a project to document the traditional music of Vermont.

Over the course of thirty years, and with the assistance of Marguerite Olney, Flanders gathered and preserved more than 4,800 field recordings of New England folksongs and ballads as sung by native Vermonters and other New Englanders. 

Primarily of Anglo-American origin, but also including some Franco-American music and fiddle tunes, the songs were recorded on wax cylinder, disc, and reel-to-reel magnetic tape. In addition to the invaluable content of the songs, the formats document the evolution of recording technology in the mid-20th century.

After a decade of collecting, Mrs. Flanders became concerned about the safety and long-term preservation of this unique collection, which had been housed in her own home in Springfield, VT. In May, 1941, she donated the collection to Middlebury College with the proviso that it be kept in a "fireproof environment" and that it should be used as a resource for academic and scholarly research. Mrs. Flanders and Marguerite Olney, who became curator of the collection at Middlebury, continued to add to the prodigious archive of field recordings until 1958.

Over the years, Mrs. Flanders had donated other materials from her collection to the College and by the early 1960s, comprised her personal research library containing several thousand books on American folksong, folklore, and balladry, dating from the late 18th through mid-20th centuries; over 600 broadsides; more than 200 songsters and hymnals; original 18th and 19th century music manuscripts; an archive of transcriptions of songs and their multiple variants corresponding but not limited to songs represented by the field recordings; and Mrs. Flanders personal and professional correspondence and business records. 

The Flanders Ballad Collection remains one of Middlebury's greatest research collections, consulted frequently by folklorists and musicians locally, nationally, and internationally. Titles of books, songsters, and hymnals in the Flanders Collection are available in Middlebury's online catalog. Selections from the Flanders Collection, including photographs and broadsides, are available online in the Flanders Ballad Collection.

Please visit the Flanders Online Archive to sample some recordings from the collection and for recent news about our new project to digitize our Edison wax cylinder recordings.  

CampSongs1