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Reuben Powell Early Country Music Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BCA 0065 SAA 065

Scope and Contents

These are papers and memorabilia relating to Reuben Powell, collector of Appalachian music and founder of the Renfro Valley Tape Club.  In addition to a card index to the recordings he collected, materials in this collection include correspondence and clippings on a variety of topics and people that reflect Mr. Powell's continuing interest in country music (including files on radio stations, record companies, performers, and festivals).  Also included in the collection are records regarding Renfro Valley and the organization of the Renfro Valley Tape Club.


  • created: 1910-1982


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.


83.00 boxes_(general)

Language of Materials



The collecting activity reflected in this collection began in the early 1950s and continued well into the 1970s. After Rueben Powell’s 1968 retirement from work as chief utility engineer at Wright Patterson Airforce Base in Ohio, Powell and his wife Retha started the Renfro Valley Tape Club as a means of sharing the fruits of his collecting with other country music fans. Its appeal was particularly substantial among Powell's contemporaries who were disenchanted with the then newer country music expressions that they perceived as sounding too modern. At the club's height, Powell was circulating reel-to-reel tape copies of early commercial recordings and radio programs to a membership that represented most states and ten foreign countries. In his collecting Powell focused mainly on the country music and musicians prominent during the period 1930 to 1950. He was especially interested in performers having Kentucky connections and any associated with such radio programs as the National Barn Dance and the Renfro Valley Barn Dance.

Arrangement Note

Arrangement of the collection is in series as follows:

Series 1: A-Z Miscellaneous

Series 2: Performers

Series 3: Biographical and Recordings Classification

Series 4: Festivals

Series 5: Radio Stations

Series 6: Record Companies

Series 7: Renfro Valley

Series 8: Subject Files

Series 9: Locators

Series 10: Sound Recordings

Related Materials

Other Descriptive Information

Collection Number: BCA 0065 SAA 065

Processing Information

The original finding aid was created in 2004.  The finding aid was updated in January 2016; boxes 82 and 83 were added at this time.  The collection was processed by Harry Rice, Sound Archivist.

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