Friday, June 6, 2014

Musicology seminar students process Michael Johnathon collection

Initiated by Ron Pen, Musicology professor and Director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music,  and organized and supervised by Director of Archives Ruth Bryan, 16 graduate students in Dr. Pen's musicology seminar (MUS 702) spent a total of 166.5 hours in 90 visits over three months this spring semester processing and cataloging 42 of the original 85 boxes that comprise local and internationally-known folk singer Michael Johnathon's recordings and papers held in Special Collections.  A songwriter and author who began his career in the 1980s, Michael Johnathon created and hosts the worldwide broadcast of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour (performed here in Lexington) with a radio audience with over a million listeners each week.  Other major recordings and films of his include Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau; The Road; Woodsongs I, II, and II;, Assassins in the Kingdom; and Dreams of Fire.  He also founded his own record labels, Troubadour and PoetMan Records. 

The musicology graduate students selected either audiovisual or paper formats to concentrate on, and from the very first work session, dug into the complexity and of this multiple-format, unorganized collection.  The ten AV project students cataloged 540 items, deciphering handwriting, identifying many audio and video formats (VHS, SVHS, Betacam, Umatic, various open reel audio and video, DAT, ADAT, XDCAM, DVCPro, CD, and DVD), and entering standardized data into a spreadsheet.  The six paper project students identified, organized, foldered, and cataloged 12.4 cubic feet of mostly unlabeled and loose correspondence, photographs, scripts, contracts, and business and promotional records. 

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