The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969 Page: 118
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
du Midi des Etats-Unis, at the University of Paris in 1925, he placed
himself among the first of the American scholars in folklore. The in-
terest in folk music that was begun by Bishop Percy, furthered by
Sir Walter Scott, and climaxed by the collection of Francis James
Child, had not been strong enough in the 192o's to make folk music
completely acceptable among academicians. Academic respectability
was, however, being bestowed on it by Combs' scholarly contempo-
raries, Cecil Sharp, John Lomax, and Louise Pound. The fact that
respectability has been attained is demonstrated by the large number
of works on folk music now in circulation and by the University of
Texas and the American Folklore Society's publishing of Combs' dis-
sertation as Folk-Songs of the Southern United States.
Although Folk-Songs can be strongly recommended as a complete
and scholarly collection of Appalachian folk music, it is certainly more
than a gathering together of songs and variants. Combs' concentration
on the relation of the music to the people is what gives the book its
extra value. Folk-Songs is a historical and sociological study of a fairly
homogenous group of people and of the music of their past and pres-
ent. "Southern United States" in the title of the book might be mis-
leading to some readers; it was to me. When I first noticed the title I
thought that the area under discussion was the Deep South. It is not.
Combs' area-and it is the land of his own birth-is bordered by the
Appalachian Range on the west and the Blue Ridge Mountains on the
east. The people are from English stock who moved into these moun-
tains in the eighteenth century. The language of these "Southern High-
landers," Combs' own designation, is the language of the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries. The people that migrated to the Highlands
were the offspring of the dispossessed, the indentured servants, and the
convicts who were flushed out of England during that time. They
found a place in the Highlands where nobody bothered them because
nobody wanted what little they had. Josiah Combs was a part of these
people and he writes about them and their musical culture interest-
ingly and with understanding.
Just about everyone who has ever collected folk music has come
away saddened that it is on its way out. Pepys, Percy, Scott, Childs,
and Sharp felt that what they did not write down would be gone in a
very few years. Combs was convinced of this in 1925, and I wish I
knew enough about the man to know his reaction to Vance Randolph's
three-volume Ozark Folksongs in 1947-1949. I hope he was pleased to
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969, periodical, 1969; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117146/m1/134/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.