MsC 40

  Manuscript Register


Collection Dates: 1929 -- 1941 (correspondence)
2 linear ft.

This document describes a collection of materials held by the
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Phone: 319-335-5921
Fax: 319-335-5900

Posted to Internet: July 2001

Acquisition Note: This collection is made up of combined gifts from Piper's widow, Mrs. Janet Pressley Piper, Ernest Horn, and Paul Benjamin, during the years between 1947 and 1974.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Ephemera: Scrapbook

Photographs: Box 3, Box 4

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright:  Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"

Use of Collections:  The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Series Table of Contents

Biographical Notes

Scope and Contents

Box 1 Ballad Manuscripts - Ballads A-J

Box 2 Ballads K-Z - Correspondence, 1929 -- 1941

Box 3 Dance Calls - Music Transcriptions

Box 4 Newspaper and Journal Clippings - "Words for Music on Large Disc"

File I Ballads Included in the Peterson Syllabus, A-O

File II Ballads P-Z - Broadsides--Scrapbook--Index

File III Game Songs - Temperance

File IV Anecdotes - Slang--Musician's

File V Superstitions - Tricks

File VI Ballads clipped from newspapers - Ballads wanting references 

Biographical Notes

Edwin Ford Piper was born on February 8, 1871 in Auburn, Nebraska, a few miles west of the Missouri River, to Joseph Benson and Lucinda Adeline Ford Piper. As farmers moved in and rangeland disappeared, his family moved farther west in Nebraska. While he was growing up, he listened to the songs, rhymes, square dancing calls, and prayer meeting calls of the hired hands, hobos, itinerant fiddlers -- anyone who created music. He also learned songs from his mother and his sister Ella. These folk expressions had a great effect upon Piper. In 1893, he entered the University of Nebraska, where he earned an A. B. in 1897 and an A.M. in 1900. In 1905 he joined the University of Iowa faculty, where he remained until his death on May 17, 1939, just days before he was to be the guest speaker at the University's Commencement Supper.

At the University he taught Chaucer and writing. A poet in his own right, he published five books of verse: Barbed Wire (1917); The Land of the Aiouwas (1922), Barbed Wire and Wayfarers (1924), Paintrock Road (1927); and Canterbury Pilgrims (1935). He was in great demand as a reader of poetry and his habit of breaking into song when the poem demanded it earned him the nickname "the singing professor." He served as advisor on The Midland and American Prefaces, and was the chief sponsor of Kinnikinnick.

In 1897, Piper began transcribing ballads and songs remembered from his childhood. In 1909 he became more systematic about this endeavor, gathering songs printed in newspapers and magazines, collecting them from older singers, exchanging them with other scholars. Eventually, indexes were made for the songs he had collected. These materials now comprise the Piper Collection.

See also two articles by Harry Oster, "Edwin Ford Piper Collection of Folksongs" and "English and Irish Broadsides in the Edwin Ford Piper Collection".

 Scope and Contents

Approximately two feet, the Piper Collection consists of words to ballads, rhymes, temperance songs, hobo songs, Indian songs, Cajun songs, quadrille calls, dance calls, and calls to and dismissals from the floor; story manuscripts; student papers; music transcriptions for some songs; original English and Irish broadsides of the nineteenth century; and correspondence of Piper. The collection also includes a 1934 thesis by Harold Peterson, which is a syllabus of the ballads in the collection.

J. Roethler. July 2001.  

Box 1

Ballad manuscripts.

Ballads A-J.(10 folders. See: T1934 P48 Peterson, Harold Daniel. A Syllabus of the Ballad Collection of Edwin Ford Piper [Box 3]. See also card files 1 and 2, which contain some additional information, but are largely duplicated by the Peterson thesis.)

Box 2

Ballads, K-Z (15 folders. See note on Peterson thesis above.)

Bibliographic and Biographical Material.

Cajun songs.

Calls to the Floor and Dismissals.

Correspondence, 1929 -- 1947.

 Box 3

Dance Calls. (2 folders. See also Quadrilles and Quadrille Calls.)

The Ellesmere Chaucer.

Photographs of illuminations and manuscript (41).

"The Miniatures of the Ellesmere Chaucer." Philiological Quarterly 3.4 (1924). (2 copies).

"The Royal Boar and the Ellesmere Chaucer." Philological Quarterly 5.4 (1926).

Hobo Songs, 1923.

Indian Songs.

An Inquiry into Some Phases of the Art of Description as Exhibited in Descriptions of Out of Door Scenes from the Writings of Robert Louis Stevenson. 1900. Draft and bound copy.

Iowa Song, music, lyrics, and with note by Edwin Ford Piper.

Kinnikinnick, 1926.

The Land of the Aiouwas: A Masque, 1922.

Literary Manuscripts. (3 folders.)

Grumple Lights the Lamp; The Ventriloquist; Pie-Night; Patter Interlude

Portfolio, 3 drafts with Table of Contents

Prelude to A Song of the Grass; miscellaneous poems

Miscellaneous notes and pamphlets, 1901 -- 1921, undated.

Music Transcriptions. (Includes some of the ballads in this collection).

Note: These transcriptions are not executed in Piper's handwriting, but they may have been done under Piper's direction.

Newspaper and journal clippings, 1921 -- 1931, 1965.

Obituaries, memorials, and eulogies for Edwin Ford Piper.


Box 4

Peterson, Harold. Songs and Ballads of the Revolution. 1934. (See also: Revolutionary Ballads -- Index/card file III/.)

Peterson, Harold. Syllabus of the Ballad Collection of Edwin Ford Piper. 1934. (Bound thesis.)

Peterson, Harold. Syllabus Preparatory Notes and Lists.

Quadrilles and Quadrille Calls.

Rhymes. (2 folders, including Mother Goose rhymes, game rhymes, and an occasional musical transcription.)

Rundell, Mrs. The Bugle Call, 1863 (Excerpts.)

Song Lists.

Stories collected by Edwin Ford Piper, 1937, 1939.

Student Papers, 1937.

Temperance Songs.

Triangle Club, 1932.

Winton Ballad Manuscripts.

"Words for Music on Large Disc."

Correspondence of 2009 regarding the song "Red River Valley."

 File I

Ballads included in the Peterson Syllabus, A-O.

 File II

Ballads (continued), P-Z.

Ballads -- Index to Additions Collected After the Syllabus (post-1934).

Ballads Recorded on Disc.


Broadsides -- Scrapbook Index

Note: These are provided with a page number. Since the scrapbook has been re-mounted without page numbers, these are no longer correct.

File III

Game Songs.

Indian Songs.

Mr. Ryder's Grandmother's Book -- Excerpts.

Revolutionary Ballads Index. (See also: Peterson, Harold. Songs and Ballads of the Revolution, 1934 [Box 3.])


 File IV

(Note: Files IV and V contain folklore materials.)


Camp Meeting Prayers.



Quadrille Calls.

Quips, Posies, Signs, Games.

Remedial Superstitions.


Rope Skipping Songs.


Slang -- Musicians'.

 File V



 File VI

Ballads clipped from newspapers

Ballads wanting references


English and Irish Broadside Ballads.

Oster, Harry. English and Irish Broadsides in the Edwin Ford Piper Collection. Number 4 (April 1966), pp. 12-18. Off print.

Information on the re-mounting of the scrapbook.



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