American Folk Songs, 1st Edition

  • Norm Cohen
  • Published By:
  • ISBN-10: 0313088101
  • ISBN-13: 9780313088100
  • DDC: 782.42162
  • Grade Level Range: 9th Grade - College Senior
  • 743 Pages | eBook
  • Original Copyright 2008 | Published/Released October 2009
  • This publication's content originally published in print form: 2008

  • Price:  Sign in for price



This state-by-state collection of folksongs describes the history, society, culture, and events characteristic of all fifty states. Unlike all other state folksong collections, this one does not focus on songs collected in the particular states, but rather on songs concerning the life and times of the people of that state. The topics range from the major historical events, such as the Boston Tea Party, the attack on Fort Sumter, and the California Gold Rush, to regionally important events such as disasters and murders, labor problems, occupational songs, ethnic conflicts. Some of the songs will be widely recognized, such as Casey Jones, Marching Through Georgia, or Sweet Betsy from Pike. Others, less familiar, have not been reprinted since their original publication, but deserve to be studied because of what they tell about the people of these United States, their loves, labors, and losses, and their responses to events. The collection is organized by regions, starting with New England and ending with the states bordering the Pacific Ocean, and by states within each region. For each state there are from four to fifteen songs presented, with an average of 10 songs per state. For each song, a full text is reprented, followed by discussion of the song in its historical context.


"From "Yankee Doodle" to "Roll On Columbia, Roll On," American folk songs capture particular points in our nation’s history. From battles and political contests to murders and natural disasters, they reflect people and events that captured the public interest and imagination. Though frequently unpolished and derivative, such creative works nonetheless reflect contemporary attitudes and opinions. Norm Cohen, a long-time scholar of folk music, leads this geographical tour of ballads and folk songs in the United States. State sections begin with a brief overview of the region’s settlement. Each entry includes the full text of the song with background notes on the events or issues reflected in the lyrics. Selected songs are illustrated with reproductions of the original broadside publications. The coverage features war songs as well as patriotic or nostalgic tributes to states and regions. From the opening of the frontier to mill strikes, economic developments are reflected in songs like "The Erie Canal" and "the Marion Massacre." The chronological range extends from the Revolution through the 1930s. Floods, train wrecks and bank robbers are among the popular themes of songs memorializing crimes and tragedies. Some selections, like "The Old Folks at Home," "The Yellow Rose of Texas" or "Tom Dooley," are widely known, but most are much more obscure. Most are written in English, but a little more than 5 percent feature songs in Spanish, Hawaiian or the languages of other ethnic groups. Supplemental materials include a list of songs excluded, a general bibliography and a title index of all entries. Most of the latter are excluded from the general index. The result is a comprehensive survey of traditional American folk music that will be of interest in school, public and academic libraries."--Lawrence Looks at Books, April 2009

— John R.M. Lawrence

Table of Contents

Front Cover.
Half Title Page.
Title Page.
Copyright Page.
Political Chronology.
1: New England.
2: Maine.
3: Lovewells Fight.
4: The Aroostook War.
5: Canada-I-O.
6: Henry K. Sawyer.
7: Away Down East.
8: The Logger's Boast.
9: In the Tunnel.
10: The Burning of Henry K. Robinson's Camp in 1873.
11: New Hampshire.
12: Joel Baker.
13: The Old Granite State (As sung with rapturous applause, by the Hutchinson Family).
14: The Factory Girl.
15: The Brookfield Murder.
16: The Suncook Town Tragedy.
17: Ben Deane.
18: Vermont.
19: Riflemen's Song at Bennington.
20: Maple Sweet, or, Vermont Sugar-Maker's Song.
21: The Song of the Vermonters —1779.
22: The Green Mountain Boys.
23: The Woodstock Bridge Disaster (The Hartford Wreck).
24: The White Captive.
25: The Stratton Mountain Tragedy.
26: Seba Smith: The Snowstorm (1843).
27: The Vermont Farmer's Song.
28: Wilkes Lovell.
29: Margaret Gray—A Legend of Vermont.
30: Massachusetts.
31: New England's Annoyances.
32: The Boston Burglar.
33: Battle of Bunker Hill Composed by a British officer after the engagement.
34: A Song on the Nantucket Ladies.
35: Cape Cod Girls.
36: Gunpowder Tea.
37: [Boston] Tea Tax.
38: Revolutionary Tea.
39: Ballad of the Tea Party.
40: Mr. Pierce's Experience.
41: The Burning of the Granite Mill.
42: Rhode Island.
43: A New Song, Called the Gaspée.
44: Charles Gibbs.
45: Sarah Maria Cornell.
46: Shall Dorr Be Freed (Tune: “The Star-Spangled Banner”).
47: (Bright-Eyed) Little Nell of Narragansett Bay.
48: The Railroad Accident at Richmond Switch.
49: Connecticut.
50: The Yankees Return from Camp.
51: The Connecticut Pedlar.
52: Springfield Mountain.
53: Connecticut.
54: Battle of Stonington.
55: Farmington Canal Song.
56: The Story of Gerald Chapman.
57: Notes.
58: Midland (North Atlantic).
59: New York.
60: The Dutch Lullaby.
61: The Battle of Schenectady.
62: The Fate of John Burgoyne.
63: Noble Lads of Canada.
64: The E-ri-e.
65: Young Carlotta.
66: Henry Green of Troy.
67: The Lamentation of James Rodgers.
68: Jim Fisk Song.
69: The Two Orphans, or, the Brooklyn Theatre Fire.
70: Sing Ha-Ha, Come from China.
71: The Smugglers of Buffalo.
72: McKinley.
73: The Ballad of Grace Brown and Chester Gillette.
74: Governor Al Smith.
75: New Jersey.
76: Battle of Trenton.
77: The Sons of New Jersey.
78: New Jers-A.
79: The Laws of Jersey State.
80: Moore and Jacoby.
81: Mount Holly Jail.
82: The Hoboken Fire.
83: The Paterson Fire.
84: The Trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann.
85: Morro Castle Disaster.
86: Pennsylvania.
87: The Battle of the Kegs.
88: Polly Williams.
89: James Bird.
90: The Banks of the Schuylkill.
91: De Philadelphia Riots, or, I Guess It Wan't De Niggas Dis Time.
92: Down in the Lehigh Valley.
93: The Avondale Mine Disaster.
94: Thomas Duffy.
95: The Johnstown Flood.
96: I Lie in the American Land.
97: The Homestead Strike.
98: Father Was Killed by the Pinkerton Men.
99: Altoona Freight Wreck.
100: My Old Pennsylvania Home.
101: Delaware.
102: The Battle of the Wilderness.
103: What Did Delaware?.
104: Swimming in the Delaware.
105: Floatin' Down the Delaware.
106: My Delaware.
107: Maryland.
108: The Battle of Baltimore.
109: Maryland, My Maryland.
110: The Maryland Martyrs.
111: Down-Trodden Maryland Air—“Tom Bowling”.
112: The Maryland Battle Cry.
113: Maryland, My Home.
114: Baltimore Fire.
115: Boston Fire.
116: Notes.
117: Upper South.
118: Virginia.
119: The Virginian Maid's Lament.
120: The Vance Song.
121: De Free Nigger.
122: Poor Goins.
123: Manassa Junction (The Battle of Bull Run).
124: The Cumberland 's Crew.
125: Monitor and Merrimac (Air—Yankee Doodle Dandy).
126: The Last Fierce Charge.
127: Talt Hall.
128: Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.
129: The Wreck on the C & O.
130: The Wreck of the Old 97.
131: Henry Clay Beattie.
132: Claude Allen.
133: Sidney Allen.
134: Freeda Bolt.
135: Gruver Meadows.
136: The Cyclone of Rye Cove.
137: West Virginia.
138: The Battle of Point Pleasant.
139: West Virginia Gals.
140: John Brown's Body.
141: Alternate verses:.
142: John Hardy.
143: Jay Legg.
144: The Explosion in the Fairmount Mines.
145: The West Virginia Farmer.
146: Billy Richardson's Last Ride.
147: Longing for the Spring.
148: Bluefield Murder.
149: West Virginia Lad.
150: The Virginian Strike of '23.
151: The Wreck of the Virginian.
152: The Crime at Quiet Dell.
153: Jack Rock Song.
154: North Carolina.
155: When Fanning First to Orange Came.
156: Poor Naomi.
157: Frankie Silvers.
158: As I Went Down to Newbern.
159: Tom Dooley.
160: The Fate of Ellen Smith.
161: Song of Emma Hartsell.
162: The Hamlet Wreck.
163: The Marion Massacre.
164: The Lawson Family Murder.
165: Chief Aderholt.
166: I'm Going Back to North Carolina.
167: The North Carolina Hills.
168: Kentucky.
169: Hunters of Kentucky As sung by Mr. Ludlow, in the New Orleans and Western Country Theatres.
170: Colonel Sharp.
171: My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!.
172: Cumberland Gap.
173: The Battle of Mill Springs.
174: Ten Broeck and Mollie.
175: The Ashland Tragedy.
176: Arch and Gordon.
177: The Rowan County Crew.
178: J. B. Marcum.
179: The Peddler and His Wife.
180: Floyd Collins.
181: The Wreck of Number Four and the Death of John Daily.
182: Which Side Are You On?.
183: Tennessee.
184: Story of the Knoxville Girl.
185: Sweet Allalee.
186: The Tennessee Boys.
187: The Battle of Shiloh.
188: The Drummer Boy of Shiloh.
189: Coal Creek Troubles.
190: The Girl I Loved in Sunny Tennessee.
191: Shut Up in Coal Creek Mine.