For our Tuesday field recording, facilitators Yuki and Quentin drove two hours southeast of Louisville to Berea College, a unique place to study and live. Berea is a tuition-free university, primarily for students who come from Appalachian communities throughout the US. The college was founded in 1855 as the first interracial and coeducational school in the South. Students can choose to work regular on-campus jobs or study with a master craftsman to learn traditional Appalachian woodwork, pottery, and weaving, which is sold at their campus store. It was hard to leave Berea; it is an institution that doesn’t seem institutional, it just seems like a great place to live and learn. Best of luck to our contact, Tim Jordan, and everyone else in Berea!
A student (above) at work at one of the looms in Berea’s weaving studio (below)
The library’s sound archivist, Harry Rice, gave us a tour of Berea’s amazing online catalog, which is the most extensive sound archive in Kentucky and houses old field recordings of traditional Appalachian musicians, storytellers, Baptist preachings, and historical Kentucky radio broadcasts. In the photo above, Harry shows us musical notation done by one of Berea’s Appalachian Music Fellows of a traditional fiddle tune that had never been written down before. Many of the recordings were transfered from the original acetate disks to digital, and have a beautiful quality to them.
Listen to the archives here.