Mudcat Café message #3364126 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #143708   Message #3364126
Posted By: Richie
16-Jun-12 - 08:30 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 2
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 2
After looking at "Bobree Allin" see link above in last post, here's what I found:

A Dusky Barbara Allen is an African-American version that was published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 77, Issues 457-562; dated 1888 edited by Henry Mills Alden. No source is given except that the ballads was sung by African-Americans in Virginia (see quote). There is an incomplete verse in Harper's version- stanza 8 is missing the last two lines. It was corrected in a later publication of the song in "Songs We Used To Sing," August 12, 1912. The correction was made by adding two standard lines:

I cannot keep you from death,
So farewell," said Bob-ree Allin

It was again reprinted by Dorothy Scarborough under the title Bob-ree Allin in her book, On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs (1925) after she was sent a copy by Alphonso Smith. Scarborough, "A Negro version of Barbara Allan, from Virginia, was sent to me by Professor C. Alphonso Smith. I had wondered if the Negroes had failed to appreciate and appropriate this most familiar and beloved of all the ballads, and so I was pleased at this contribution. This is sung in Albemarle, Wythe, and Campbell Counties, Virginia."

It also appears as Reed Smith's Version F "Bobree Allin" in his South Carolina Ballads. The incomplete stanza 8 has been "edited" without comment apparently by adding the last two lines from Stanza 5. The same version appears as Davis's Version C in Traditional Ballads of Virginia. Davis refers to the publication of the song in "Songs We Used To Sing," August 12, 1912.

Since Scarborough, Smith and Davis didn't know about the 1888 Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 77 publication, there is likely an earlier source than Harper's, now unknown- since the 1912 printing referes to specific locations in Virginaia- "Albemarle, Wythe, and Campbell Counties."