Skip to main content

Nora Carpenter Traditional Music Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BCA 0108 SAA 108

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of song lyrics, poems, and sound recordings authored or collected by Nora E. Carpenter of Magoffin County, Kentucky, mostly during the period 1920- 1960.

Listen To Recordings In Digital Library of Appalachia

Listen To Recordings and Interviews

The collection also includes numerous clippings of song lyrics, poetry, and community history from a wide variety of print sources, both loose leaf and pasted in a scrap book.  There are also a few song books published by regional country music radio performers during the 1940s and 1950s.


  • created: 1920-1960
  • Other: Date acquired: 10/01/2007


Conditions Governing Access

Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

Federal copyright regulations apply to all other materials.


3.00 ms_boxes

Language of Materials



Nora Owens Carpenter (1888-1975) was a formidable presence for many years in the Salyersville - Magoffin County area of eastern Kentucky. Married to Morgan Green Carpenter in 1907, she was a mother of five, businesswoman, and onetime postmaster. However for many in her home community, she is best remembered as a talented, traditional musician (banjo and harmonica) and topical song writer.  She and her string band, “Big Mamma and the Half Mountain Hotshots,” had a strong following on Paintsville radio station, WSIP during the 1940s and early 1950s.  Despite this local appreciation, she seems to have been overlooked by the many folklore scholars who traveled through Kentucky at various times during the 1900s.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Biographical Material and Photographs                

Series 2: Manuscript Song and Poetry Texts                       

Series 3: Clippings and Other Published Material               

Series 4: Home Disc and Reel-to-Reel Audio Recordings

Source of Acquisition

The collection was given to Berea College in October, 2007 by Nora Carpenter’s daughters, Charlotte Thompson and Carolyn Cravens of Lexington, Kentucky.

Related Materials

Related Publications

"Written adn Composed by Nora E. Carpenter" by Emily Hilliard in Southern Cultures.

Other Descriptive Information

BCA 0108 SAA 108

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Harry Rice, Sound Archivist.

Archon Finding Aid Title
Harry Rice
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US