The American Folk Song Collection is a unique resource for music teachers, parents, choral conductors and composers. On this site you can:
- Search for songs using a powerful database (Search the Collection)
- Print lyrics, musical scores, song analyses, background information and game directions
- Listen to field recordings from the Library of Congress and other sources
- View short films on the history, philosophy and teaching applications of the work of Zoltán Kodály (The Kodály Vision)
- Find Teaching Resources
- Learn more about the Kodály Center and folk song collection (The Kodály Center)
- Locate folk song resources (Bibliography)
- Look up unfamiliar terms (Glossary)
The online American Folk Song Collection was created by Holy Names faculty members Anne Laskey and Gail Needleman to share a core selection of songs from HNUs American Folk Songs for Teaching Collection. This original print collection, developed over 35 years by faculty and students at HNU’s Kodály Center, was recognized as an archive by the Library of Congress in 1984.
In 2000, we received an award from the Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund for Ethnography at the Library of Congress (LOC) to research historical field recordings in the LOC Archive of Folk Culture. On our first of many visits to the Library, we listened to many original field recordings of folk songs which we had known previously only from scores. We realized that these recordings were an incredible resource that needed to be more widely shared with teachers, students and anyone interested in the rich heritage of American folk song.
The American Folk Song Collection launched in 2004 with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Field recordings, along with transcriptions and analysis, now form the heart of this online, multimedia collection, created by noted arts website producer Larry R. Larson. The collection contains folk songs representing many geographic areas and cultures present in the United States. Each song has been selected for its beauty, musical versatility and suitability for teaching.
All songs in the collection include lyrics, a musical score and song analysis showing how it can be used to develop children’s musical and cultural understanding. Many also include recordings, background information, illustrations, and game or dance directions. The collection is searchable by any combination of twenty musical, cultural and educational categories.
Additional funding from the Hewlett Foundation and grants from the Library of Congress have enabled us to add field recordings of hundreds of songs since the site’s launch. New songs are added to the collection on a regular basis, providing an ongoing resource for teachers, parents, students, composers, conductors and performers.
Holy Names University Project Team
Anne Laskey, Professor of Music
Gail Needleman, Lecturer in Music
Arwen Lawrence, Hispanic folk music consultant
Hajnalka Bardos Klieman, Graduate Assistant
Sarah Hawley-Snow, Graduate Assistant
David Fike, Vice President for Academic Affairs, 1997-2005
Hélène Matters, Acting Chair, Music Department, 2003-05
Toni Locke, Archivist and consultant
Elena Olkovskaya, Director of Information Technology
External Project Team
John Sullivan, Producer
Janis Walzer Larson, Photographer
Jacob Needleman, Narrator
Laurel Unwin, Karen Paulson, Christine Metzger, and the students and staff, Mustard Seed School, Hoboken, NJ
Gemma Arguelles, Convent of the Sacred Heart Elementary School, San Francisco, CA
Lili Vandulek, Secretary, International Kodály Society
Video 1 (History)
- Kodály and siblings (Photo by Sándor Fink)
Video 2 (Philosophy)
- Checking old tunes at his desk using the old phonograph (MTI Photo by Károly Gink)
- At the Lorántffy Zsuzsanna Music Primary School (Photo by László Vámos)
- Among "the musicians of the future" (Photo by István Harmath)
Video 3 (Classroom)
- Philippe Pigouchet's "Heures à l'usage de Paris," 1497.
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Peggy A. Bulger, Director, 199-2011
Joseph C. Hickerson, Head of the Archive of Folk Culture, 1963-19989
Judith A. Gray, Folklife Specialist
Todd Harvey, Folklife Specialist
Jennifer A. Cutting, Folklife Specialist
Ann Hoog, Folklife Specialist
We have made every effort to determine the copyright status of each song and recording included on this website, to identify the copyright owner, and to secure permission where necessary. We hope that copyright owners will pardon any omissions or errors and will notify us so that corrections can be made. If anyone has information on descendants of performers of folk songs on this site, that the information would be gratefully received and forwarded to the archive holding the recording.
Unless otherwise credited, all musical transcriptions, background information, game directions, analyses, curricula and materials other than recordings as discussed above are © 2021 by the Kodaly Center at Holy Names University and are intended to be used solely within the educational context of this website. Any other use, including redistribution of any kind, requires written permission from the copyright holder. See the FAQ for more information.