The Digital Southern Folklife Collection continues to add content at a steady rate. One of the recent additions includes the photographs from the Ed Kahn Collection (#20360). Among numerous photos of the Carter Family and Merle Travis is the publicity shot of June Carter, mid-leap, featured above. Also note Ms. Carter’s manager, the Colonel himself, Tom Parker (aka Andreas Cornelis (“Dries”) van Kuijk).
Scholar and folklorist, Ed Kahn (1938-2004) spent much of his life devoted to the study of American folk songs and early country music, conducting extensive field research and writing at length about both Merle Travis and the Carter Family. Kahn was was involved in the creation of the John Edwards Memorial Foundation (JEMF), along with Archie Green, D. K. Wilgus, Fred Hoeptner, and Eugene Earle. He was initially appointed Executive Secretary of the JEMF and was instrumental in starting the JEMF Quarterly newsletter. The collection consists of papers, photographs, and audiovisual materials relating to Kahn’s research documenting American folk songs, Mexican border radio, and early country music and recording history.
Carter Family research materials include personal and professional correspondence; research files related to Ed Kahn‘s dissertation, “The Carter Family: A Reflection of Changes in Society”; transcripts documenting interviews with members of the Carter Family and people associated with them; letters to and from members of the Carter Family and their friends, family, and business associates; and handwritten songs found in a cabin where Sara Carter stayed after divorcing A. P. Carter.
Any ideas on what the autograph says?
Sara Carter (banjo) and her cousin Maybelle (auto harp), ca. 1919, about eight years before the first recordings of the Carter Family.
From the Ed Kahn Collection.
Here’s an interesting song we came across recently in the Ed Kahn Collection: “The Strange Case of the DeAutremont Brothers”, recorded in 1928 by banjo and guitar duo The Johnson Brothers. It dramatized a sensational train robbery that took place outside of Medford, Oregon in 1923. The would-be robbers (brothers Hugh, Ray, and Roy DeAutremont) badly botched the job, murdering four innocent men in the process. The DeAutremont brothers escaped the scene with their lives, leading authorities on a international manhunt until they were finally apprehended, tried, and sentenced to life in prison in 1927. The Johnson brothers recording no doubt sought to turn some of the recent trial publicity into record sales.
Listen to a clip of “The Strange Case of the DeAutremont Brothers”:
Ray DeAutremont (L), with Gary Williams, 1973
The clip below is from a tape made in 1973 by Eugene area journalist Gary Williams (tape FT-12658, Ed Kahn Collection), including an interview with the by-then paroled Ray DeAutremont. Ray is reluctant to speak about the murders, but does offer a few interesting (though self-serving) words on the subject of regret.
Listen to Ray DeAutremont in 1973:
You can read more on the strange case of the DeAutremont Brothers in Oregon’s Great Train Holdup: The DeAutremont Case No. 57893-D.