The Library of Congress's American Folklife Center is pleased to announce a new presentation, "Captain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal," now available on the Library's American Memory Web site at: 

"Captain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal" captures the culture and music of the men, women, and children who worked and lived along the Ohio and Erie Canal. Nye, who was born and raised on a canal boat, never lost his love of the "Big Ditch." After the canal closed permanently in 1913, he devoted considerable time and energy to preserving its songs and stories.

This presentation contains recordings of 75 songs, sung by Nye. The recordings were made by John, Alan, and Elizabeth Lomax, and Ivan Walton between June 1937 and September 1938. Lyrics for the recorded songs have been transcribed by Library staff and are available on the Web site as are song transcriptions, photographs, and personal letters Nye sent to the Library from July 1937 to October 1944.

Also included in this presentation is an essay called "An Informant In Search of a Collector: Captain Pearl R. Nye of Ohio" and a timeline that identifies significant events in the life of Nye and the history of the Ohio and Erie Canal with which his life was so closely associated. A radio program excerpt from "Two Sailors: Sea Shanties and Canal Boat Ballads," part of the Library's "Ballad Hunter" series, provides additional insight into Nye's life.

The American Folklife Center: < > was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs, and training. The Center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world...."

For further information, please contact the American Folklife Center: < >.


Laura Gottesman
Digital Reference Team/ American Memory: < .
The Library of Congress: < >
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