The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948 Page: 104

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Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Lay My Burden Down. Edited by Ben Botkin. Chicago (Univer-
sity of Chicago Press), 1945. Second impression, 1946. Pp.
285. Frontispiece.
The editor of this volume of folklore is so well known in his
field as to require no introduction. The present volume uses
the material collected by the Federal Writers' Project of which
Mr. Botkin was folklore editor in 1938-1939.
Taken from the mouths of former slaves, these stories are at
times interesting, at times dull, always dramatic, seldom real.
The project was as worth while as it was obvious; it was per-
haps a last opportunity to collect stories from negroes who
themselves experienced slavery and reconstruction. The negroes
tell stories involving situations of very doubtful historical authen-
ticity, yet the flavor of their words gives a picture of the emo-
tional climate which, in part, the stories themselves created, and
in which the negroes lived. The historical accuracy of conver-
sations is problematical, especially since many of the conversa-
tions involve two men long since dead as told by a third who
was not present himself.
But it may very well be, as the folklorists insist, that there is
a higher reality than the mere recording of probable facts, and
that from a psychological point of view a story based on a grain
of truth carefully germinated in a man's knowledge of human
behavior and cultivated by a vivid imagination may give a far
more accurate idea of the spirit and temper of the times than .a
mere recording of historical data.
Santa Barbara College,
University of California
Selected Letters: John Garland James to Paul Hamilton Hayne
and Mary Middleton Michel Hayne. Edited by Daniel Mor-
ley McKeithan. Austin (University of Texas Press), 1946.
Pp. xiii+96.
To a Texas patron of literature, John Garland James, is due
the credit for the only collected edition of the poems of Paul
Hamilton Hayne. This fact is all the more remarkable since the
two men never met and their friendship, maintained through


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948, periodical, 1948; Austin, Texas. ( accessed October 25, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.