See Wiki for for Tom Dooley:
According to Wiki, the song is indeed based on Tom Dula's murder of Laura
Even if the lyrics of Dula's other song were published in a copyrighted
monograph or article, the lyrics themselves could not be protected, if
someone wanted to use them.
On Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 4:54 PM, David Lewis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> It is not copyrightable, as Dula died in 1868 and the work was created
> before 1893. But you could publish it within a monograph about Dula, and
> you can copyright that.
> Dave Lewis
> On Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM, Marty Tschetter
> <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> > Colleagues,
> > Seeking advice or experience...my local museum stumbled across
> > lyrics written by Tom Dula in 1862 as a Confederate soldier, donated
> > outright to the museum circa 2005 by a distant relative. Just about every
> > week we get visitors interested in the Tom Dula story because of the folk
> > song "Hang Your Head Down Low Tom Dooley" recorded by the Kingston Trio.
> > Doc Watson and even the Grateful Dead recorded the song.
> > How do we copyright this song? Should we do this? As a small museum, any
> > suggestions or thoughts if we could possibly (or should) try to make some
> > money off the song? I'm not sure exactly how this would work or what is
> > appropriate. Any advice or feedback welcomed.
> > Marty