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About American Song

December 9, 2009

I am an undergraduate student at Smith college in Northampton Massachusetts where I am majoring in American Studies with a concentration in material culture, and minoring in Studio Art with a concentration in sculpture. I also have a deep rooted interest in traditional American music, from early religious tunes of the first Americans to the protest songs of the ’60s and ’70s. This interest has led me to intern for the first semester of my junior year at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington DC. As I write these words, my internship is drawing to a close, and as a final culminating project, I am creating this blog in lieu of a paper or other form of presentation, to share my own experiences with American folk music and the research I have done in the past weeks. This blog will center around the topic of textile mills in the Northern and Southern United States, and the labor and protest songs that came hand in hand with the cotton and wool industries. I will detail the history of mill labor and speak to the significance that music played in strengthening unions and raising spirits brought down by fourteen hour days, child labor, and the ever present brown lung disease. I will write about the lives and influences of such great names and inspirational singers as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, and follow the threads left in their wake to their influences in the modern work force. Through this writing experience, I hope to expand my own knowledge of labor unions, protest songs, and the wonders of the World Wide Web through an in depth study of the industrial and musical history of our great and beautiful land.

In reference to my blogging rights: As much as I would like to, and as tempting as it is, I am unable to upload and stream sound recordings onto my blog. Copyright laws for music are incredibly complicated and I simply do not have the right to stream music. Also, as I am representing two prestigious institutions (Smith College and the Smithsonian), I feel that I must try to be as legally truthful as possible. With that said, it is however, within my rights to link to web pages that already stream music. I cannot, unfortunately, provide an entire song, but by linking to the Folkways page of the Smithsonian, any reader of this blog can hear a clip of the tune I am referencing. I am saddened that I cannot share this beautiful music, but it is all out there and still in circulation for you to find.

Finally, due to the inherent nature of a blog, if I were to adhere to the dates on which my posts were actually published, they would appear on the page with the most recent publication at the top. Because I am writing as though from the beginning of a paper to the end, I want my fist post to be the first the reader sees, and my concluding post to be the last. To get the desired order effect, I have altered the dates of publication that you see at the top of each post. I would remove them if it were possible, but as it is not, please disregard them and read this blog from top to bottom. Though I have written them in a certain order, however, each post is technically free standing and will be understandable even out of context.

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