James L. Conklin dictates a song to Herbert Halpert in New York, 1946.
James L. Conklin dictates a song to Herbert Halpert in New York, 1946. Photo by Violetta Halpert


Location: New Jersey Pine Barrens, New York
Dates: July-September 1939
Format: Aluminum and lacquer discs
Accession Number: 54-220-F

In 1938 and 1939, folklorist Herbert Halpert (1911-2000) traveled through the mid-Atlantic states recording individuals singing traditional songs. Funded in part by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and Columbia University, he documented the cultural legacies of rural and working class areas in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, northeastern Pennsylvania, and New York state. He made 40 disc recordings of Anglo-American ballads, work songs, sea shanties, historical songs, bawdy songs, and game songs. Halpert traveled with a large disc-cutting machine and set up make-shift studios in hotels and other community gathering spaces. These recordings became part of his Ph.D. dissertation in English under the folklorist Stith Thomson at Indiana University, "Folktales and Legends of the New Jersey Pines: A Collection and Study." Halpert later established the Ph.D. program in folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland and served as president of the American Folklore Society. Other collections by Herbert Halpert at ATM include 54-215-F, 54-216-F, 54-217-F, 54-218-F, 54-219-F, 54-221-F, 54-222-F, and 83-890-F.

Sample 1: Charles Henry Grant (b. 1868). July 29, 1939. Ring Play, "Two Jolly Sailor Boys." Collier's Mill, New Jersey. (12-4865 B)

Sample 2: Frelen C. Bozarth (b. 1860). July 30, 1939. Biography and discussion about music.  Hainesport, New Jersey. (12-4869 A)