Welcome to Carpenter Folk Online!

Connecting Britain’s heritage of traditional song and drama

Carpenter Folk Online is a one-year project to incorporate the wealth of traditional songs and folk plays collected by the Harvard-trained scholar, James Madison Carpenter, into the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) Digital Archive, the world’s largest online searchable database of folk songs and music.

Until now, the Carpenter Collection could only be accessed by visiting the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Thanks to their preservation and digitisation of the materials, plus the detailed cataloguing work of a team of researchers interested in collection, the collection has been added to the VWML digital archive, and from August 2017 will be freely accessible to all.

Carpenter Folk Online is a partnership between the Elphinstone Institute, the centre for the study of Ethnology, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology at the University of Aberdeen, and the English Folk Dance and Song Society, which runs the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library and Archive at Cecil Sharp House in London.

Throughout the project, there will be events and activities to bring the Carpenter collection, as part of the digital archive, to new audiences, and encourage creative and innovative engagements with the materials. These are taking place taking place in locations across England and Scotland and include public talks and study days, folk choir and young instrumentalist concerts, folk festival workshops, and schools projects in both Scotland and London.

Descendants of some of Carpenter’s 800 contributors will play a key role in telling the story of these performers and their worlds, through photographs, memories and family history research.

Carpenter Folk Online will lead to the creation of new learning resources for schools for the EFDSS Resource Bank and the Elphinstone Kist, using a selection of material from the collection.

Carpenter Folk Online runs from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. We gratefully acknowledge the Arts and Humanities Research Council whose funding has made this project possible.