Vance Randolph

from Townsend and Helen Godsey's Ozark Mountain Folk: These Were the Last, 2nd ed., Branson: Ozarks Mountaineer, 1977:

Photograph from holdings at the College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, MO
copyright (c) Townsend Godsey heirs

Vance Randolph, (pseudonym Anton S. Booker) was the "Bull Goose" of Ozarks folklife collectors. Born February 23, 1892 in Pittsburg, Kansas, he insisted on the importance of collecting tales, songs, jokes, games and expressions as they were originally told. Randolph recorded hundreds of folk tunes and songs on heavy equipment loaned him by the U.S. Library of Congress. He gathered thousands of items of folklore, including folk speech, superstitions and tales from which he produced an astonishing number of  books during his more than half a century traipsing Ozarks hills and hollers.

The fiddler is identified on p. 95 with this caption under a closeup:

"'Deacon Hembree liked to play the fiddle as much as he liked to tell tall tales to the fishermen he guided on float trips. He always ended his stories with 'hit's the truth, porely explained.'"

Townsend Godsey took the photographs (year unknown) and he and his wife wrote the captions for the book. The backup man is unidentified.

Submitted by Prof. Don Lance, emeritus.
Reproduced as a courtesy to the Missouri Folklore Society by permission of the Godsey's children.

The author of more than a dozen books on American folklore, Randolph lived in the Ozark mountains from 1920 until his death in 1980. Uncollected and unedited texts by the thousands lie archived throughout the United States. Published titles include Ozark Magic and Folklore, Blow the Candle Out: Unprintable Ozark Folksongs and Folklore; Down in the Holler: A Gallery of Ozark Folk Speech; Tall Tales from the Ozarks; and for the scholar, Ozark Folklore: An Annotated Bibliography (all available through But perhaps his best known and best loved work is ...

Click the book cover to go to the Vance Randolph Collection at the Axe library,   Pittsburg State University, Kansas

"The 101 anecdotal tales included are sexy and scatalogical, sometimes clever, often just crude...Randoplph's faithful collecting retains the local color, language, and delivery style of his informants, many of whom, interestingly, are women."

-Library Journal

Click on Mr. Randolph (here in one of his informal moods)
                                            to go to the Library of Congress' Vance Randolph Collection

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