Jean Thomas: The Life and the Legend, 1943-1984

Descriptive Summary

Title
Jean Thomas: The Life and the Legend, 1943-1984
Creator
Groce, Jerry
Extent
Scrapbook; 1 volume (24 leaves).
Subjects
Thomas, Jean, 1881-1982.
American Folk Song Festival.
Wee House In The Woods (Ashland, Ky.)
Mountain people--Songs and music.
Songs--United States.
Folklorists--Kentucky--Biography.
Ballads, English.
Museums--Kentucky--Ashland.
Historic buildings--Kentucky--Ashland.
Authors.
Historians.
Singers.
Ashland (Ky.).
Appalachian Region.
Broadsides.
Correspondence.
Photoprints
Arrangement
Arranged somewhat chronologically.
Finding Aid Author
Processed by: Archives Staff ; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Author, historian, singer. Jean Thomas, founder of the American Folk Song Festival, was born in Ashland, Ky. November 20, 1881. She met her husband while in New York, where she studied at Hunter College and the Pulitzer School of Journalism. After living and working in Greenwich Village, Mrs. Thomas moved to Hollywood where she worked as a script girl for Cecil B. DeMille. At age 17 she returned to Kentucky and served as a court stenographer traveling on horseback and transcribing testimonies of feuds and murders, thus exposing her to the traditions of the people of the mountains. While traveling in the eastern Kentucky mountains as a stenographer, she became known as the "Traipsin Woman" and during that period she collected and preserved the folklore, traditions and music of the mountain people.
In the late 1930s, realizing a fascination that she had for the songs and culture of the Kentucky mountain people, she founded the American Folk Song Festival which she personally conducted for over 35 years at or near her home in Ashland. In addition, Jean Thomas wrote nine books dealing with Kentucky folklore including THE TRAIPSIN' WOMAN (1933) and the SINGIN' GATHERIN' (1939).
Because she collected artifacts and memorabilia of all kinds, her home became a treasure of antiques and trivia of museum proportion and in 1979 the Jean Thomas Museum - centered around a reconstructed version of her home, "Wee House in the Woods" - was opened to the public.
Scope and Content
This collection of materials on Jean Thomas of Ashland, Ky, is contained in a scrapbook compiled by a University of Kentucky student, Jerry Groce, whose home is also in Ashland. Included in the scrapbook entitled, "Jean Thomas: The Life and the Legend", are photographs, photocopies of articles, correspondence and broadsides dealing with her life and work as a folklorist. Known as the "Traipsin Woman", Jean Thomas' life was dedicated to the preservation of the eastern Kentucky mountain culture particularly in song. The articles reflect the devotion and love that Miss Thomas carried for that region of Kentucky. The more recent clippings center around celebrations of her birthdays and contain biographical information and facts on the restoration of her home, "Wee House in the Woods", for use as a museum.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.

Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

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