About

The Minnesota Folksong Collection is an online digital library for audio recordings, song texts and and other materials documenting traditional folksong from Minnesota. The current collection consists of a set of songs recorded by Robert Winslow Gordon in 1924. Gordon recorded four Minnesota singers that year:

  • Michael Cassius Dean (1858-1931) lived in Virginia, Minnesota in 1924 but was recorded at the home of his sister Mary (Dean) Bird in Canton, New York.
  • Reuben Waitstell Phillips (1850-1926) was recorded at or near his home in Akeley, Minnesota (possibly Chamberlain)
  • Reuben Phillips' son Israel Lorentz Phillips (1883-1967)
  • Reuben Phillips' brother Seymore Hoit Phillips (1855-1925)

Gordon recorded these singers over ninety years ago on wax cylinders and the sound quality of most of the Gordon recordings is unfortunately very poor. Gordon also opted to conserve valuable space on his cylinders by recording just one or two verses of what were, in most cases, much longer songs. Luckily, both Michael Dean and Reuben Phillips supplied Gordon with complete written texts for almost all of the songs they sang. These written song texts are included in the Minnesota Folksong Collection along with sheet music transcriptions of all song melodies.

Funding for the Minnesota Folksong Collection comes from the generous supporters of a March 2016 Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in combination with a Folk and Traditional Arts grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

The Minnesota Folksong Collection is still under development. New content and features continue to be added.