Guide to the Barbara McDermitt Papers, 1983-1993

Summary Information

Title: Barbara McDermitt Papers, 1983-1993
Collection: AC.204
Extent: 0.5 linear feet (2 boxes)

Barbara McDermitt Papers is a collection of 34 original audiocassettes of Watauga County, North Carolina residents. Informants, who are primarily storytellers and folk singers, include Ray Hicks, Stanley Hicks, Hattie Presnell, Frank Proffitt, Jr., and Leonard Roberts. This collection contains oral histories from nationally reknowned storyteller Ray Hicks as well as many of his Beech Creek neighbors and kin.

Creator: McDermitt, Barbara

Biographical/Historical Note

This collection contains transcriptions, indexes and audiotapes of Appalachian folk tales and songs told by Appalachian storytellers in the summer of 1982 during field trips to Beech Mountain, N.C. Folklore student Barbara Rice Damron McDermitt collected these folk tales and songs as part of her dissertation, A comparison of a Scottish and American storyteller and their Marchen repertoires. She completed her dissertation from University of Edinburgh in 1986. McDermitt divides her time between music and folklore. She directed the Edinburgh Harp Festival International and worked on special projects with the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh University.

Scope and Contents

This collection also includes correspondence related to the project, as well as genealogical materials on the storytellers. Especially featured are Jack tales, Wicked John tales, and Hardy Hard Head tales. This collection contains oral histories and performances of various storytellers and folk singers. Ray Hicks, specifically, discusses his life and family history. Duplicates were produced of the original 34 audio-casettes.


The Barbara McDermitt Papers is organized into three series: Series 204A. Audio-cassettes; Series 204B. Documents; Series 204C. Computer Diskette.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room without restrictions. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

Barbara McDermitt donated this collection to the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection during the 1980s. The original accession number is MMB. This collection was opened to the public on 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by Kathryn Staley, Rosemary Ulrey, 2004; Encoded by Kathryn Staley, March 2005

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AC.204: Barbara McDermitt Papers, W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA.

Container List

Collection 204A. Barbara McDermitt Papers. Audiocassettes Series. (circa. 1982)
Audiocassettes Series contains 68 audiocassettes of Beech Mountain, North Carolina storytellers and folk singers, original order. 34 audiocassettes are duplicates of the 34 original audiocassettes.
The storytellers are descendents of the Hicks-Harmon family. Specifically, they are Ray Hicks, Stanley Hicks, Hattie Hicks Presnell, and Frank Proffitt, Jr. Stanley Hicks and Hattie Presnell were siblings while Frank Proffitt, Jr. was nephew to Ray Hicks. Ray Hicks was the first cousin once removed to Stanley and Hattie Hicks.
1   68 audio-cassettes.
Collection 204B. Barbara McDermitt Papers. Documents Series. (1983-1993)
Documents Series contains correspondence from Barbara McDermitt to Appalachian State University scholars Eric Olson, Mary Greene, Patricia Beaver, and Carl Ross, chronological order.
These letters consist of requests from McDermitt for assistance by Eric Olson, the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection librarian, and Mary Greene, Appalachian Cultural Museum employee. Correspondence to Beaver and Ross, both directors of the Center for Appalachian Studies, regard McDermitt's grant proposal for creating a documentary about Appalachian storytellers.
Box Folder
2 1 Tape Contents
  2 Planning Grant Proposal (Proposal for Barbara McDermitt's folklore project. 5 pp., photocopy of typescript. Includes cover sheet)
  3 Summaries, Transcripts, etc. (Descriptions, summaries and some transcriptions of materials on tapes by Ray Hicks, Stanley Hicks, Hattie Presnell and Frank Proffitt, Jr. 44 pp. Photocopy of typescript.)
  4 Hattie Presnell transcript, Tape 1, side 1. 21 pp., handwritten in pencil on lined paper. Also includes Harmon-Hicks genealogical chart and commentary by Eric Olson on the Hattie Presnell interview. 3 pp., handwritten in pencil on legal paper.
    Page 192 from Barbara McDermitt's dissertation. Attachment: note concerning the lack of p. 191 (from East Tennessee State University).
Box Folder
2 5 Correspondence
    To Pat Beaver; December 1982? Envelope only.  
    To Eric Olson; January 26, 1983. Typewritten, 2 pp.  
    To Eric Olson; July 18, 1983. Typewritten.  
    To Carl Ross; July 18, 1983. Typewritten.  
    To Eric Olson; November 30, 1984. "Questions for Eric." Photocopy, typewritten and handwritten, 12 pp. Genealogy of Ward, Harmon, Presnell and Hicks families.  
    To Eric Olson; January 20, 1985. Typewritten.  
    To Mary Greene; January 22, 1985. Photocopy of typewritten letter.  
    To Mary Greene; February 25, 1985. Typewritten.  
    To Mary Greene; February 26, 1985. Typewritten.  
    To Mary Greene; April 18, 1985. Stapled to letter of April 22, 1985. Typewritten. Cover note to Eric Olson, handwritten.  
    To Eric Olson; June 9, 1985. Typewritten, 2 pp.  
    To Eric Olson; July 24, 1985. Typewritten, 2 pp.  
    To Eric Olson; August 21, 1985. Typewritten, 2 pp.  
    To Eric Olson; January 6, 1986. Typewritten, 2 pp.  
    To Eric Olson; May 29, 1986. Typewritten, 2 pp. Enclosure: "John Yule Clarsachs" brochure.  
    To Eric Olson; Undated (Summer 1986?). Handwritten, both sides of paper.  
    To Eric Olson; December 1986. Christmas card with note.  
    To Eric Olson; September 14, 1987. Typewritten, both sides of paper.  
    To Eric Olson; May 10, 1988. Typewritten. Enclosure: schedule for summer 1988 (U. S. trip). 2 pp.  
    To Eric Olson; December 3, 1989. Typewritten. Subject: death of Stanley Hicks.  
    To Eric Olson; September 6, 1992. Handwritten, 2 pp.  
    Norma Myers (East Tennessee State University) to Eric Olson; September 4, 1993. Subject: Barbara McDermitt's dissertation. Typewritten.  


Collection 204C. Computer Diskette Series. (n.d.)
Computer Diskette Series contains one 5 inch floppy disk.