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Old Folks' Singing collection

Old Folks' Singing collection

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Old Folks' Singing collection

BC.MSS.10.01

Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
100 Rock Street
Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201
(501) 320-5700
arkinfo@cals.org

September 19, 2014



Repository: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Creator:Sawyer, Nathania
Title: Old Folks' Singing collection
Dates: Bulk, 1921-2010
Dates: 1885-2010
Quantity: 3.33 Linear feet
Abstract:This collection contains materials related to Old Folks' Singing in the town of Tull, Arkansas, including minutes and records from the annual singings, research and materials collected for the 100th and 125th anniversary books, recordings, oral histories, and photographs.
Identification: BC.MSS.10.01
Language: English
Permanent URL:http://purl.oclc.org/arstudies/bc-mss-1001

Arrangement

This collection is arranged by material type, and then chronologically.


Scope and Contents

This collection contains materials related to Old Folks' Singing in the town of Tull, Arkansas, including minutes and records from the annual singings, research and materials collected for the 100th and 125th anniversary books, recordings, oral histories, and photographs.

Information about the town and the families who live there is included in the materials.


Historical Information

What became known as Old Folks' Singing started on May 17, 1885, with the dedication of a new Methodist church and cemetery in Tull (Grant County). The event was multi-denominational, with the entire community participating in the singing and midday dinner. The annual event is held in Tull at the Ebenezer United Methodist Church on the third Sunday in May. It is believed to be the oldest continuous singing using the Christian Harmony hymnal held west of the Mississippi River.

The singing is held in a morning and then an afternoon session, with a meal in between. Since at least 1921, the morning session has hosted a welcome address and a response. After the first song in the afternoon session, a memorial service is held in which a list of those who have died during the past year is read.

An important part of the day is "dinner on the ground," a meal enjoyed between the morning and afternoon singing. In the early years of the event, people packed their own meals for the dinner, but during the Depression, large crowds showed up in hopes of being fed. The stress of about 2,000 people arriving for a meal nearly killed the tradition, but George DuVall, the first president of Old Folks' Singing, saved the yearly event by suggesting that each woman "bring enough food for your own family and multiply it by two."

Famous professor and folklorist John Quincy Wolf attended the event in 1963, remarking, "As the old folks die the interest in the old style decreases. The prospects for survival are not good, but it is difficult to kill a seventy-seven-year-old tradition." However, the event has persisted. It today serves as a kind of reunion for people who have moved away from the area or who have relatives there.

Old Folks' Singing is governed by a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and chaplain. A planning committee arranges the details of the day, including inviting people to deliver the welcome and response addresses.

Source: Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Churches -- Arkansas.
Religon.
Shape-note singing -- Arkansas.
Shape-note singing -- Social aspects -- United States.
Tull (Ark.)

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Restrictions on Use

Non-circulating, in-house use only.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Old Folks' Singing collection, MSS.10.02, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute

Acquisition Information

Donated by Nathania Sawyer, 2010


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