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Curley Collins Collection

 Collection — Container: 1
Identifier: BCA 0119 SAA 119

Scope and Contents

The Curley Collins collection documents the musician's career with news clippings, radio station program listings, and advertisements; photographs; periodical articles and book excerpts; correspondence; legal documents; and writings.

Listen To Curley Collins On WWVA 1946

Included in correspondence with music historian Wayne Daniel is a questionnaire Collins completed along with copies of several published pieces by Daniel that discuss Collins and the musicians with whom he worked. Also included are a family produced disc recording of banjo tunes by Curley's father Neal; an audio cassette of 1946 era radio programs on WWVA in Whelling, West Virginia on which Collins performed; and a 1980s era commercial CD of the singing and playing of Curley Collins and Benny Kessinger. The material dates 1928-1956, 1964-1969, and 1975-2002.

All non-audio items in the collection are in photocopied form. In addition to information about Collins, this collection is particularly useful for its provision of details regarding the commercialization of traditional music in northeastern Kentucky during the early to mid-1900s.


  • created: 1928-2002

Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on use of this material other than federal copyright regulations.


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Language of Materials



Ruel Culbertson (Curley) Collins (1915-1986) played the fiddle, guitar, and banjo in country and western bands of the 1930s-1980s. Born near the Boyd County seat town of Catlettsburg in northeastern Kentucky, Curley Collins grew up hearing the music of his father, Neal, on banjo and his mother, Maggie, on the pump organ at church. He also was listening to country music on records, nearby radio stations, and major network programs such as the National Barn Dance and the Grand Ole Opry. He began playing music professionally at age 14 with Catlettsburg area bands such as Dolpha Skaggs' Mountain Melody Boys and the Prairie Pals, both in live performance and on radio stations WSAZ and WCMI in Huntington, WV and Ashland, KY respectively. Collins went on to perform with popular Kentucky band Pop Eckler and His Young'uns, first on station WLW and WKRC in Cincinnati and then WSB in Atlanta on its "Cross Roads Follies" broadcasts. The band performed variety shows throughout the Southeast, in which Collins, who won a national fiddling contest in 1938, played, sang, and danced. Following Army service during the Second World War, Collins partnered with singer Benny Kissinger, and they were featured on the "Old Dominion Barn Dance" show on WRVA (Richmond, Va.), 1946-1957. After some years out of the music business, Collins and Kissinger revived their act in 1979, playing to appreciative audiences until Collins' death in 1986.

Source of Acquisition

Phillip G. Collins

Other Descriptive Information

BCA 0119 SAA 119

Processing Information

Donor Phillip G. Collins organized the material.  The finding aid was created in July 2015 by Lori Myers-Steele, Collections Archivist, and Harry Rice, Sound Archivist.

Archon Finding Aid Title
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US