african american folklore

From My People: 400 Years of African American Folklore (An Anthology) Daryl Cumber Dance, ed.

(Just a sample)

Why the Black Man’s Hair is Nappy (collected from Richmond, VA)

“All right now, we going to our races; we going to find out where the Black people got their hair from, and how they got it. When it was time for the Lord to give hair, He called all three of these men, and this is what he said. Well, first he called the white man to come on and get his hair. All right, the white man he went right on up there and got his hair. So the Lord called the Jew man to get his hair. So the Jew man went up there and got his hair, and said, "Thank you, Lord.” So when it got down to the Black man, the Lord called him. And do you know what the Black man said? Black man said, “Lord, ball it up and throw it to me.” And it’s been balled up ever since.“

(I love this!)

Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel: Readings in the Interpretation of Afro-American Folklore (Critical Studies on Black Life and Culture)

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edited by Alan Dundes

Exploring the scope, diversity, and vitality of black culture, here is a fascinating collection of more than sixty articles from some of the most perceptive and authoritative commentators upon the black experience–Zora Neale Hurston, J. Mason Brewer, Sterling A. Brown, Eldridge Cleaver, Willis Laurence James, John Lovell Jr., Langston Hughes, Charles W. Chesnutt, Alan Lomax, Ralph Ellison, A. Philip Randolph, Newbell Niles Puckett, Roger D. Abrahams, and many others.

Readers cannot help coming away from this book with a new appreciation of the nature and richness of African American folklore. For those with little or no previous knowledge of this heterogeneous and spellbinding lore Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel will be an eye-opening encounter.

Drawn out of the deep, rich well of African American culture, these essays convey the import of the black folk experience for all Americans. No library or individual with a serious interest in African American folklore should fail to own this remarkable anthology. [book link

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“We are the ancestors of the future and what we do now will have an impact.”

- Luisah Teish on honoring the ancestors. This is an *amazing* explanation of ancestor veneration and the syncronicities involved in working with them. 

Yeye Teish is the founding mother of Ile Orunmila Oshun, and holds a chieftancy title in the Fatunmise lineage as a senior Oshun Priest in the United States. She is the founder of the School of Ancient Mysteries and Sacred Arts Center in Oakland, CA. She is also the author of several books on African religion, and a playwright, director and theatrical performer of African, Caribbean and African-American folklore and feminist myth. Her performances, lectures and workshops have taken her to Europe, Egypt, South America, New Zealand, Nigeria, Costa Rica, and across the United States.

268: Down to the River to Pray

The river is a healer. The rushing river. The gentle river. The cleansing river. Seven rivers flow down from around the Tree of Life in Heaven. Seven rivers to bless us, seven rivers to heal us. Let’s go down to the river to pray. 

The symbol of the river goes across cultures here in the South. The Protestant dissenters brought to the mountains and hills their need for baptism by immersion, this merged with indigenous and African beliefs surrounding the importance of the river as liminal space and mode of purification. 

“Going to water” has been crucial to Cherokee traditional beliefs for centuries. It can involve both the act of the individual petitioning the river to carry away illness, evil, etc. and the act of the healer taking many people to the water for a cleanse. 

“Because of the importance of water in Cherokee beliefs, practices, legends, and myths, it is safe to say that their use of water for religious ceremonies probably dates back thousands of years. Taking the most conservative view - even if we were to say that the emphasis on water had been shaped by their living in the southern Appalachians, and even if we were to take the most conservative archaeological view, that the Cherokee had only been here five thousand years or so - (which tenure seems to be in the process of being extended by recent archaeological finds) - Cherokee water rituals may be at the minimum several thousand years old.” ~Barbara Reimensnyder Duncan “Going to Water: A Cherokee Ritual in Its Contemporary Context”

It’s likely that already present water and river traditions from multiple sources (European, Indigenous, African) merged together through exposure, and the mythos behind these traditions became blended, especially in the South. This is most seen in the case of early New World converts to Protestantism who are introduced to the importance of immersion baptism (Protestant/Orthodox Christian mythos) but still retain their traditional beliefs about the healing power of the river/water woven into the fabric of daily life. There are still areas of the South were frequent mini “baptisms” in a lake or river are used as sources of renewal and healing for congregants, a clear divergence from traditional European beliefs surrounding the act of baptism as more of a one-time occurrence in a person’s life. 

“In Cherokee ritual, the river is the long man, Yunwi Gunahita, a giant with his head in the foothills and his foot far down in the lowlands, pressing always, resistless and without stop, to a certain goal, and speaking ever in murmurs which only the priest may interpret. In the words of the sacred formulas, he holds all things in his hands and bears all down before him. His aid is invoked with prayer and fasting on every important occasion of life, from the very birth of the infant, in health and sickness, in war and love, in hunting and fishing, to ward off evil spells and to win success in friendly rivalries. Purification in the running stream is part of every tribal function, for which reason the town house, in the old days, was always erected close to the river bank.

“We shall speak here of ceremonial rites in connection with the running stream, saying nothing of the use of water in the sweat-bath or in ordinary medico-religious practice, beyond noting the fact that in certain cases the water used by the doctor must be dipt from a waterfall. Two distinct formulistic terms are used for the rite, one of which signifies ‘plunging into the water,’ the other ‘dipping up the water,’ nearly corresponding to our own ‘immersion" and “sprinkling’ in baptism. Whenever possible, the priest selects a bend in the river where he can face toward the east and look upstream while performing the ceremony, which usually takes place at sunrise, both priest and petitioner still being fasting.

“At regular intervals, usually at each recurring new moon, it is customary among the more religiously disposed of the old conservatives for the whole family to go down together at daybreak, and fasting, to the river and stand with bare feet just touching the water, while the priest, or if properly instructed, the father of the household, stands behind them and recites a prayer for each in turn, after which they plunge in and bathe their whole bodies in the river.” ~James Mooney “The Cherokee River Cult”

The river as a spirit has the power to carry illness and evil away with it. Many traditional Cherokee healing formulas (as recorded by Mooney) include “going to water” as a final act of cleansing. Often the patient will take an emetic and throw up into the river, or at the very least spit into the flowing water, allowing whatever evil that was trapped inside to be carried away into the mythical land where all bad things are sent. Similar beliefs can be found throughout Europe and the World. One example is seen in the Middle Irish text the Saltair na Rann where we see Adam and Eve atoning for their sins by fasting in a flowing river up to their chins while holding bowls of burning herbs above their heads. The river has been seen cross-culturally as a force that has the power to carry away things with it, in both a physical sense and spiritual one. Along similar lines, not only can the river act as a means of physical transportation but it can also carry us into the “otherworld” which lies beyond (or below) certain sacred wells and bodies of water. 

The Southern river cult, as we can call it, is best characterized by the traditional folk spiritual “Down in the River to Pray”, most likely composed by an African slave, with clear indigenous overtones when it comes to the melody and phrasing. On the surface level we see a Christian song referencing baptism by immersion in a river, underneath this, however, the song harkens back to traditional beliefs regarding the river as healer and carrier of prayers. Even deeper and we can see references to a sort of map-song for escaping slaves. The river being both road and way of masking human scent from slave hunters and their dogs, and the “starry crown” which has been considered by some to be a reference to traveling by night. 

The river is a healer. The rushing river. The gentle river. The cleansing river. Seven rivers flow down from around the Tree of Life in Heaven. Seven rivers to bless us, seven rivers to heal us. Let’s go down to the river to pray. 

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O sisters let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O sisters let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O brothers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
Come on brothers let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O fathers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O fathers let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O mothers let’s go down, come on down
Don’t you want to go down
Come on mothers let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O sinners let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O sinners let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

anonymous asked:

I don't know if this would be offensive, but shouldn't the African Trickster in American Gods be Wakaima the Hare, not Anansi the Spider? I mean, there's a lupine trickster in African-American folklore, not an arachnid.

You know, I’ve never actually thought about why Gaiman went with Anansi before. I’ve just been obnoxiously pleased that he used Anansi in the first place because I’ve always adored tricksters and he’s the main trickster I grew up with. (And conveniently, because I never pass up the chance to talk about my own work… here’s an essay I wrote about that!)

But now that I think about it, I do wonder if the reason why he used Anansi in AG was because of how widespread Anansi’s mythology has been across the African diaspora? 

Going through my copy of American Gods, one thing that stood out to me is the epigraph that opens with a Richard Dorson quote about folktales that begins: “One question that has always intrigued me is what happens to demonic beings when immigrants move from their homeland.”

“What happens to gods when the people that worship them are forced from their homeland?” is a question that Anansi maybe answers very well? Because in the part of the Caribbean where I’m from, you can see the way that Anansi has evolved over generations and where he does/n’t resemble the original(ish) trickster god. 

Like he’s super depowered in the Virgin Islands and mainly thought of as a goofy trickster alone (instead of as a trickster god) and that’s definitely due to forced conversions to Christianity and weakening connections to our history due to enslavement.  That’s… pretty obviously a thing. 

But I’m gonna be honest: I doubt Gaiman has put that much work into thinking about how the TransAtlantic slave trade would’ve changed (and did change) the religions enslaved Africans and their descendants partook of.

Now it’s going to bug me because I want to know why Gaiman went with Anansi instead of a trickster like Eshu or Set (I know nothing about Wakaima which is a travesty because I need to know about all the world’s trickster gods). 

Why Anansi?

(I’m probably going to like… look this up actually because I want to know if he’s ever spoken about Anansi and his thought process in using the trickster as a character. I’ll keep you posted if I find anything because I realize my whole response so far is basically one gigantic “I don’t know either but I’m now curious” and that’s unhelpful as heck.)


With permission from lettherebedoodles I decided to take their amazing Racebent Disney Princess Series and, rather than just seeing them as different versions of the original characters, give them stories and fairy tales of their own. I plan on doing their entire series- hopefully I won’t disappoint!

Some of the stories will be based on the culture the new heroine is based on, and others will be stories from other cultures (such as ‘traditional’ western fairy tales), even real life people will inspire these Disney-style Princesses and Heroines. But please remember-this is all for fun. I’m not pretending to be an expert on any of this. I’ll try my best to do right by these characters and cultures, and if there is something horribly offensive, please let me know how I can fix it.

Sorry I’m a crappy graphic designer, btw.

Part 1

Part 2

Titrit- Munyal

Based on the fairy tale The Black Bull of Norroway, Munyal is the story of a Titrit, the energetic and cheerful youngest daughter of a family of cow herders in West Africa. Her family travels a lot, but never stays in one place for long. Titrit’s older brothers always tease her, but the family is very happy. But she always wishes that they would stay in one place- she’s tired of always leaving behind her new friends. 

Then one day, while out guarding the cattle at night, a enormous bull, so black that it looked like a cloudy night sky, and able to talk. He promises her that he has a way will her travel the world almost instantly- and that way, visit all of her friends whenever she wants. All Titrit has do is first sit very, very still.

Important Note: Honestly, the EXTREME difficulty in finding African folklore that wasn’t dumbed down for (white American) audiences or solely African-American slave folklore from the US was one of the reasons it has taken me so damn long to finish this series. It’s incredibly frustrating. I ended up going with a Scottish story I’m familiar with, because of the nomadic herding culture present in this area. I’ve never been so aware of how frustrating and disappointing it must be for anyone of African descent, especially those affected by diaspora, to try and find out about what their heritage might have been like. And what I was going for here was simplistic compared to that. The best I could do is the title- Munyal is a word from the Fulani code of behavior called pulaaku. It roughly has to do with a cross between strength and courage in adversity and a stoic acceptance or endurance of the supposedly pre-ordained vicissitudes of life. It is often translated as patience. 

Sorry I couldn’t do better :(

Sayyida al Hurra- Pursuit

Loosely based on the real life story of Sayyida al Hurra, the last woman in Islamic history to legitimately hold the title of “al Hurra”, or Queen. She was also the undisputed leader of the pirates from the Mediterranean. 

Her whole life, Sayyida traveled. First, when she was younger, her family was exiled. Determined to make the people who did that pay, she takes up piracy and began raiding. Clever, resourceful, and as fierce as the sea, she soon becomes the leader of pirates. One day, she captures the ship of the King of Morocco and the two of them begin a strange relationship as he chases the Pirate Queen in an attempt to catch her. Despite falling in love, they keep up the elaborate game, one ruler of the seas and one ruler of a country.

Important Note: I do not know very much about Islamic history and it was super unclear whether Sayyida was a name, a title, or an honorific, so if this is an incorrect way to refer to her, let me know and I will fix it.

P.S. If anyone has any resources on African (specifically Luo/West Niletic/East African- think the Jasmine edit) stories, folktales, even modern fiction, please let me know. I’m having a lot of trouble with it.

Day 11: Ghosts, Spirits, and Haints

The Hillfolk’s relationship with the spirit world is a delicate balance often kept in equilibrium through certain beliefs and taboos about ghosts and “haints” (haint being another word for a ghost or spirit. It comes from “haunt” or “haunted.”) Many of these beliefs show signs of European folk tradition, others come from Native American or African folklore. Regardless of where they come from, people in the Ozarks used to take their beliefs about ghosts very seriously. Most of the quotes below are from “Folk Beliefs from Arkansas” by folklorist Mary Celestia Parler who recorded many folktales and beliefs about ghosts.

Beliefs about Ghosts:
“During the dark of the moon, ghosts will appear.”

“Ghosts can be seen more easily at the time of the new moon.”

“When a rooster crows in the dawn, all spirits depart for the spirit world.”

“When a person is dying and a whippoorwill starts calling outside the house, that whippoorwill is trying to catch the soul of the dying person to keep it from reaching heaven.”

“If you bury a body before it’s been dead three days, the soul will be trapped and may never leave.”

“It is wise never to mention the names of dead people in the vicinity of a grave yard, for the attention of ghosts would perhaps be attracted to the speaker.”

“An elderly Indian woman lived alone in Prairie Grove. People use to ask her if she wasn’t afraid to live alone. She said no, because she always put food out at night and when she went out in the morning, it was gone. So she knew she was protected at night.”

“If you sweep the floor after midnight, it will stir up the spooks and ghosts.”

This belief is also noted by Vance Randolph in his “Ozark Magic and Folklore” where it seems sweeping should be avoided at night altogether:

“An old-time Ozark housewife seldom sweeps her cabin after dark, and she never sweeps anything out at the front door. Otto Ernest Rayburn observes that ‘one of the most progressive merchants in Arkansas will not permit his janitor to sweep dirt out through the door after dark.’ A woman in Madison county, Arkansas, told me that ghosts and spirits are accustomed to stand about near cabins at night, and it is dangerous to offend these supernatural beings by throwing dirt in their faces.”

“The Indians also believe that you should never pass a grave without tossing a stone or twig on the mound. Should you omit this rite, you will incur the anger of the ghost, a serious matter, resulting probably in your illness or death.”

I’ve seen examples of this belief in several graveyards where rocks and sticks had been piled up on top of tombstones as sort of votive offerings. I’m not sure about the accuracy of this coming in from the Native Americans, it might have been partially influenced by them as the Osage and Caddo both were, if I’m not mistaking, mound builders. I’ve seen examples of this folk belief elsewhere as well. One example I can remember is from the novel “Independent People” by Halldór Laxness where the protagonist Bjartur adds stones to the cairn of the evil woman Gunnvör to appease her spirit. It wouldn’t surprise me if this tradition came into the Ozarks from multiple sources.

People who can see ghosts:
“A person born in January can see ghosts.”

“People born on Halloween are able to see and talk to ghosts.”

“People born with a veil [caul] over their face are able to see ghosts, spooks, and things of that sort.”

Dispelling ghosts:
A well trained Power Doctor not only knows how to avoid ghosts and spirits, but also how to dispel them if need be. In the Ozarks dispelling ghosts falls under a few categories: preventing, appeasing, or manually sending them away. 

Preventing ghosts involves the use of certain plants or objects, often hung or scattered around the house, in order to keep ghosts away from the house or family.  Examples of these preventatives include the color blue, often called “haint blue” because when painted on doors or porches it keeps haints away from the house. I’ve also heard that ghosts can’t cross over new boards, so new planks of wood are often used at the front door to keep out ghosts. Also with the front door, a lot of people keep a screen door, not only for practical purposes, but also because it’s believed a ghost has to count every hole in the screen before it can enter into the house. By the time the ghost is finished it’ll be daytime and the ghost will be scared off by the Sun. Here are some examples:

“To keep ghosts out of your house, hang mustard seeds in a cloth sock at all doors and windows.”

“Always keep some kind of light burning in your home cause the evil spirits will not come around light.”

“If you hang a horse shoe over your door it will keep the ghosts away.”

“If you put a nail in the doorstep and a horseshoe over the door ghosts can’t get into your house.”

“Don’t let the fire go out on Christmas morning or the spirits will visit you.”

“Keep a buckeye in your pocket to ward away evil spirits.”

“Put sand on your front porch or steps at night to keep the evil spirits away.”

“If you have a crow’s foot in your house, it will keep away evil spirits.”

“When in the woods at night if a owl hoots, turn your pockets inside out to keep off bad spirits.”

“Fuzzy chickens in the yard keeps away the haints.”

“Wear a string with eight knots in it around your ankle to keep the haints away.”

“If a person whistles while he is walking at nighttime, it is supposed to attract all the bad spirits in the vicinity.”

“Turn the mirrors toward the wall so that the ghosts will not stop and admire themselves.”

Or the opposite:
“Put mirrors in a room or house where ghosts live and they will see themselves and scare themselves away.”

There’s a belief about water cancelling out certain black magic and witchcraft, this belief also can apply to ghosts as well, as seen in the examples below:

“A ghost cannot follow a person over running water.”

“If you have any enemies that are dead and there ghosts are bothering you, move by a river because ghosts can’t cross rivers.”

There’s also a belief among certain Power Doctors that their healing can’t be done remotely for a person if they are across water from the Doctor. As long as there’s no water between them the healing can be done. There’s a similar belief among Cajun Traiteurs or Treaters.

It’s said that the reason why people at a funeral have to wear black is to make them inconspicuous to the ghosts that may be in the graveyard. There’s also the belief, that most likely comes from Old World Halloween beliefs, that a bonfire must be lit outside the house on Halloween in order to keep the wandering spirits away. An interesting note about the bonfire, the word originally comes from the combination of “bone” and “fire” because a bonfire was originally a fire in which bones were burned. It’s interesting to see that Ozark bonfires often have animal bones thrown in to “keep the spirits away from the fire” as I’ve heard it said.

Appeasing a ghost means leaving out food or drink for the ghost to either prevent their entry into the house or draw them out of a place they’re already residing in. Here are some examples:

“Better not venture abroad at night without a light and if you must travel through a dark forest scatter bits of food as you go.”

“When followed by a ghost while walking at night, pour a little whiskey on the ground and they will stop following you.”

“If you think there are bad spirits in the house, leave a jug of whiskey in the corner of the room. The next morning the spirits and the whiskey will be gone.”

A similar tradition as the above involves leaving a bottle of alcohol open in a haunted house over night. Go in the next day and the alcohol will have changed color. Stop up the bottle along with the spirit. This bottle can be kept and used in cursing your enemies, or the spirit can be dispelled by pouring the alcohol into a bonfire. I’ve used this bottle technique many times with great success, although I was taught certain prayers to accompany the work that seem to be integral to its success.

Manually dispelling is when the Power Doctor uses certain means to physically remove a ghost from a place or “kill” the spirit. Here are some examples:

“You can kill a ghost with a silver bullet.”

There’s this idea of “laying a ghost” meaning that you are preventing the ghost from manifesting or rising up out of its grave. One example, people used to put a large stone directly over the head of the buried person. This was supposed to “lay the ghost.” You can also use white chicken feathers on top of the grave to “lay” the ghost of your enemy.

“Sneezing is a good omen because it is believed that the sneeze makes a bad spirit leave the body.” I’ve often seen Power Doctors make their clients sneeze using various powders because of this belief.

Sulfur or Juniper (and in some cases corncobs or tobacco) is often burned inside the house to drive out evil spirits.  Asafetida is also hung around people’s necks to keep away ghosts and also certain diseases.

While many of these folk beliefs have died out over the years, there is still this underlying fear and respect for the spirit world in many Ozark people. As a modern day Power Doctor I’ve helped many people with hauntings and the occasional unruly spirit, and I can personally attest to the survival of this belief among people around here, both young and old. I can also attest to the effectiveness of many of these old folk beliefs, the fact that many people consider them “superstitions” doesn’t change the fact that many people used them for a very long time. They’ve survived in memory because they work, if they didn’t people would have forgotten them years ago. Anyway, that’s a soapbox best left for another day.

John Wesley Work

John Wesley Work III (July 15, 1901 - May 17, 1967) was a composer, educator, choral director, musicologist and scholar of African-American folklore and music.

He was born on July 15, 1901, in Tullahoma, Tennessee, to a family of professional musicians. His grandfather, John Wesley Work, was a church choir director in Nashville, where he wrote and arranged music for his choirs. Some of his choristers were members of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers. His father, John Wesley Work, Jr., was a singer, folksong collector and professor of music, Latin, and history at Fisk, and his mother, Agnes Haynes Work, was a singer who helped train the Fisk group. His uncle, Frederick Jerome Work, also collected and arranged folksongs, and his brother, Julian, became a professional musician and composer.

Work began his musical training at the Fisk University Laboratory School, moving on to the Fisk High School and then the university, where he received a B.A. degree in 1923. After graduation, he attended the Institute of Musical Art in New York City (now the Juilliard School of Music), where he studied with Gardner Lamson. He returned to Fisk and began teaching in 1927, spending summers in New York studying with Howard Talley and Samuel Gardner. In 1930 he received an M.A. degree from Columbia University with his thesis American Negro Songs and Spirituals. He was awarded two Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellowships for the years 1931 to 1933 and, using these to take two years leave from Fisk, he obtained a B.Mus. degree from Yale University in 1933.

Work spent the remainder of his career at Fisk, until his retirement in 1966. He served in a variety of positions, notably as a teacher, chairman of the Fisk University Department of Music, and director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers from 1947 until 1956. He published articles in professional journals and dictionaries over a span of more than thirty years. His best known articles were “Plantation Meistersingers” in The Musical Quarterly (Jan. 1940), and “Changing Patterns in Negro Folksongs” in the Journal of American Folklore (Oct. 1940). In 1953, he was a member of the charter class of the Zeta Rho Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, the national fraternity for men in music. The Fisk chapter was the third chapter of the Fraternity chartered at a historically black college or university, the first being chartered at Howard University in 1952.

Work began composing while still in high school and continued throughout his career, completing over one hundred compositions in a variety of musical forms—for full orchestra, piano, chamber ensemble, violin and organ—but his largest output was in choral and solo-voice music. He was awarded first prize in the 1946 competition of the Federation of American Composers for his cantata The Singers, and in 1947 he received an award from the National Association of Negro Musicians. In 1963 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Fisk University.

Following Work’s collection Negro Folk Songs, the bulk of which was recorded at Fort Valley, he and two colleagues from Fisk University, Charles S. Johnson, head of the department of sociology (later, in October 1946, chosen as the university’s first black president), and Lewis Jones, professor of sociology, collaborated with the Archive of American Folk Song on the Library of Congress/Fisk University Mississippi Delta Collection (AFC 1941/002). This project was a two-year joint field study conducted by the Library of Congress and Fisk University during the summers of 1941 and 1942. The goal of the partnership was to carry out an intensive field study documenting the folk culture of a specific community of African Americans in the Mississippi Delta region. The rapidly urbanizing commercial area of Coahoma County, Mississippi, with its county seat in Clarksdale, became the geographical focus of the study. Some of the correspondence included in this collection between Work and Alan Lomax, then head of the Archive of American Folk Song, touches on both the Fort Valley and the emerging Fisk University recording projects.

John Wesley Work died on May 17, 1967.

Musical works
- Yenvalou for orchestra (1946)
- Sassafras, pieces for piano (1946)
- Scuppernong (1951)
- Appalachia (1954)
- From the Deep South (1936)
- The Singers, cantatas (1941)
- Isaac Watts Contemplates the Cross (1962)

Other works

Arrangements for S. A. T. B. of several collected Christian folk songs of the 1860s, first appearing in print in the early 1900s, and published in 1948 by Work through ‘Galaxy Music Corp’, NY.

- This Little Light O’ Mine with solo unaccompanied
- Jesus, Lay Your Head in the Window for high voice with piano accompaniment
- Done Made My Vow to the Lord for chorus of mixed voices, with tenor
- Go Tell It on the Mountain (Christmas) for mixed voices or junior choir, also versions for treble and male voices
- Little Black Train for chorus of mixed voices, with mezzo-soprano and tenor
- Lord, I’m Out Here on Your Word with tenor voice solo


John Henry: An American Legend (Knopf Children’s Paperbacks)

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, story and pictures by Ezra Jack Yeats

The heroic figure of John Henry is captured in a simple rhythmic picture book. Dramatic pictures with large bold figures express the feeling of this tall tale.  Ages 4-8.