HERE is a unique and an individual quality in the Folksongs of
the Kentucky Mountains, whether they be ballad, love song, or
nursery rhyme, for they have sung their way through countless
generations, unwritten and unrecorded, save by the few who still
keep the love of a "song-ballet" in their hearts. It is the strong link which
binds these people to the past, entirely detached as they have been from the
outside world for so many generations. They have lived their lives oblivious
of modern progress and have remained, like their forefathers, simple people
of the soil.
In presenting this volume, it is our hope, that we may share with others
the genuine pleasure which these songs gave us when we first heard them
in the mountain homes, where this valuable legacy has been unconsciously
With but few exceptions, the origin of each song can be traced to its Eng-
lish, Scottish or Irish source. Because of their preservation by oral tradition,
they have been invested with a characteristic charm of their own, which we
have made every effort to retain. No melody has been remodelled. The
text has been changed only in a very few instances where memory failed to
record words, lines, or stanzas necessary to complete a version.
We wish to express our thanks to Mrs. Sallie Adams, Miss Mary Anne
Bagley, the Misses Ora and Polly Dickson, Mr. Leonard Meece, Mr. Robert
Morgan, Mr. Hillard Smith, and Mr. Bristol Taylor, who not only helped
us by contributing with so much good will and patience all the songs which
they could remember, but also, by their cordial hospitality, made of our task
a delightful experience and an unforgettable memory.
New York, October, 1919.