About the Project

About the Project


The aim of the Carpenter Collection Project is to publish a critical edition of the James Madison Carpenter Collection. This will have a complementary and symbiotic relationship with the online presentation of the digitised collection.

A Critical Edition of the James Madison Carpenter Collection (2004– )

The edition contains newly transcribed and edited texts and tunes of approximately 3,000 folkloric items from the collection and Carpenter's doctoral thesis. These are accompanied by critical apparatus, indexes, bibliography, glossaries and maps. They are complemented by headnotes which interpret the content, context and relationships of the texts and tunes. The ballad headnotes represent a major updating of previous scholarly commentary. All the other headnotes are a pioneering attempt to establish authoritative annotations for genres with no previous tradition of such treatment.

The edition will also contain biographical notes on Carpenter and the principal contributors to the collection, and a full account of editorial methods.

The edition is being published by the University Press of Mississippi  in hard copy and electronic formats. Its multiple volumes will appear sequentially, beginning with the folk plays. Subsequent volumes will focus on shanties and maritime songs, traditional dance tunes and folk customs, ballads, and lyric songs.

Online Catalogue (2001–2003)

The Carpenter project team has produced a searchable item-level catalogue covering all the materials in Series 1 of the collection. The catalogue is in Encoded Archival Description (EAD), an XML-based, platform-independent standard developed by the Society of American Archivists. The Carpenter Collection catalogue is complemented by a name authority file, a place-name authority file, and a related items file. Published by the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, in 2003, it was joint winner of the Brenda McCallum Prize of the American Folklore Society, and recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals CILIP/Neilson Reference Awards (Electronic Formats).

Digitization and Public Presentation Online

The Carpenter Collection was digitized in 2002-2004 by the Library of Congress as part of its Save Our Sounds project. It is currently being integrated, with the project team’s EAD data, into the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Digital Archive. This will allow cross-searching between Carpenter's materials and other folk song and drama collections.