Pistol Packin' Mama: Aunt Molly Jackson and the Politics of Folksong

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University of Illinois Press, 1999 - Social Science - 239 pages
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Meet Aunt Molly Jackson (1880-1960), one of American folklore's most fascinating characters.A coal miner's daughter, she grew up in eastern Kentucky, married a miner, and became a midwife, labor activist, and songwriter. Fusing hard experience with rich Appalachian musical tradition, her songs became weapons of struggle.In 1931, at age fifty, she was discovered and brought north, sponsored and befriended by an illustrious circle of left-wing intellectuals and musicians, including Theodore Dreiser, Alan Lomax, and Charles Seeger and his son Pete. Along with Sarah Ogan Gunning, Jim Garland (two of Aunt Molly's half-siblings), Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, and other folk musicians, she served as a cultural broker, linking the rural working poor to big-city left-wing activism.Shelly Romalis draws upon interviews and archival materials to construct this portrait of an Appalachian woman who remained radical, raucous, proud, poetic, offensive, self-involved, and in spirit the real pistol packin' mama of the song.
  

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Contents

Hard Times in Colemans Mines Coal and Community in the Kentucky Mountains
21
I Am a Union Woman The Communist National Miners Union Comes to Harlan County Kentucky
31
AUNT MOLLYS AND SARAHS LIFE
55
I Was Born and Raised in Old Kentucky Aunt Molly Jacksons First Fifty Years
57
Christmas Eve on the East Side Aunt Molly Moves to New York City
89
Girl of Constant Sorrow Mollys Sister Sarah Ogan Gunning
127
MUSIC POLITICS AND WOMENS RESISTANCE
149
White Pilgrims in the Foreign Heathen Country Molly Sarah and the Politics of Folksong
151
Dreadful Memories ClassConscious Wives Radical Mothers
174
Be a Grievin after Me
193
Notes
207
Bibliography
221
Index
229
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About the author (1999)

Romalis-Associate professor of anthropology at York University, Toronto

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