Mudcat Café message #3119313 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46147   Message #3119313
Posted By: Lighter
22-Mar-11 - 05:58 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Huckleberry Hunting (Pumping Chantey)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Huckleberry Hunting (Pumping Chantey)
>But we'll never know for sure.

This is unfortunately usually the case. A collector can always be mistaken or even disingenuous.

The fact remains that Colcord's background and interests make her as authentic a source as any of the other editors (except those who made sound recordings). I don't believe she "camouflaged" texts either - just omitted them.

Harlow and Hugill, to name two, could have enhanced our knowledge - or at least lessened our confusion - significantly if they'd only been trained folklorists as well as singers of shanties. But they weren't. And, of course, neither was Colcord.

Of the thousands (tens of thousands?) of English-speaking sailors who sang shanties between, say, 1830 and 1920, how many wrote books about them? Let's see:

Whall
Bullen
Harlow
King
Hugill
Rutzebeck

Who did I leave out? (Let's add Davis & Tozer and Terry just to be polite.) This is a vanishingly small (but hopefully not too unprepresentative) proportion of (white) sailors. Certainly less than one in a thousand.

We're lucky to know as much as we do.