I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music

Educational And Additional Resources

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Organizations, Programs, and Websites

American Women’s History Museum (Smithsonian)

Decades in the making, the Smithsonian Institution is building an American Women’s History Museum in our nation’s capital. Women have contributed to America’s most defining moments – times that shaped constitutional rights, yielded scientific breakthroughs, and created the symbols of our nation. Yet a diversity of women’s stories has not been widely told. To create a more equitable America, the Smithsonian is researching, disseminating, and amplifying the histories of American women through its American Women’s History Initiative in preparation for the future American Women’s History Museum. The Smithsonian wants the role of women in American history to be well-known, accurate, acknowledged, and empowering.  

With a digital-first mission and focus, the Smithsonian amplifies a diversity of women’s voices throughout the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers, cultural heritage affiliates, and anywhere people are online. Through these efforts they reach millions of people in Washington, D.C., across the nation, and around the world.

Black Banjo Reclamation Project

The Black Banjo Reclamation Project is a creative eco-system curating musical, cultural, and land-based opportunities for Black, Afro-Diasporic communities around the world to work with the banjo as a tool for reclaiming ancestral wisdom & creating Afro-futures. By teaching and learning banjo playing techniques with African and Black centered perspectives, their unique facilitation of programs that include banjo building & repair, highlights the practice of land stewardship and the roots of Black liberation movements found in their folkways. Through economic solidarity and self-determination, they are paving pathways for restorative narratives to use music as a tool for healing and transforming our world.

Bluegrass Pride

Bluegrass Pride’s mission is to recruit, encourage, and support LGBTQ+ bluegrassers of all levels, promoting their advancement and acceptance within all areas of the bluegrass music industry and musical community. They aim to uplift the genre of bluegrass as a whole to receive LGBTQ+ folks openly, and to promote allyship with all marginalized peoples within the industry and musical community. They do so by creating opportunities for community building and resources for musical skill development, such as concerts, jam sessions, showcases, festivals, parades, tutorials, recording, and more!

Cornbread & Tortillas

Coordinated by Carla Gover and Yani Vozos, Cornbread & Tortillas is a collective of Appalachian and Latino artists based in Kentucky whose mission is to build community by sharing art, music, dance, and cultural heritage. Through outreach events, educational shows, workshops, and performances, they celebrate our similarities and differences to create unity in a diverse world.

The centerpiece of their work together is the Cornbread & Tortillas theatrical show, a dynamic bilingual production that features stories, music, and dancing. Audiences journey from the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky to Mexico, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and beyond, exploring connections and celebrating our shared human experience.

Decolonizing the Music Room

Decolonizing the Music Room centers Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian (BBIA) voices in music education and related fields by providing training and educational content to pre-service and practicing educators, and creating community programming for people of all ages. They disrupt the minimization and erasure of racially minoritized identities to build a more equitable future.

Jam Pak

Founded by Anni Beach and her husband Vincent, Jam Pak’s stated mission is to make people and themselves happy with their music. It goes on to say: “Everything we do revolves around this goal. And from that, many good things follow.” With its focus on development of music appreciation and performance in neighborhood children and young people, JamPak truly builds community.

Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM)

The JAM program’s mission and beliefs state that they envision a world in which all children have the opportunity to experience community through the joy of participating in traditional mountain music together. Their mission is to provide communities with the tools and support they need to teach children to play and dance to traditional old-time and bluegrass music.

They believe that children who are actively engaged in traditional mountain music are more connected and better prepared to strengthen their communities for future generations.

Select Reading List

General Resources

Bufwack, Mary A. and Robert K. Oermann. Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music. New York: Crown, 1993.

Henry, Murphy Hicks. Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2013.

McCusker, Kristine M. Lonesome Cowgirls and Honky Tonk Angels: The Women of Barn Dance Radio. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2008.

Miles, Emma Belle. “Some Real American Music.” Harper’s Magazine 109, no. 649 (June 1904): 118–122.

Seeger, Mike. “What is Old-Time Music.” (originally published in the 1997 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited)

Smithsonian Institution. “Women in Music.”

Wolfe, Charles K. and James E. Akenson. The Women of Country Music: A Reader. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2021.

Featured Women

Etta Baker

Music Maker Relief Foundation – Etta Baker 

National Endowment for the Arts – Etta Baker 


Anni Beach

Bluegrass Today – Anni Beach and Jam Pak Are Teaching Bluegrass 


Jennie and Pauline Bowman (The Bowman Sisters)

Cox, Bob L. Fiddlin’ Charlie Bowman: An East Tennessee Old-Time Music Pioneer and His Musical Family. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2007.

Bob Cox’s Yesteryear – Aunt Ween Toured with Father, Sister on Loews Metropolitan Theater Vaudeville Circuit 

Bob Cox’s Yesteryear – Bear Family Records Box Set: Get to Know Our Musical Pioneers


Samantha Bumgarner

Blue Ridge Heritage – Samantha Bumgarner 

Bluegrass Messengers – Samantha Bumgarner and Eva Davis

Discography of American Historical Recordings – Samantha Bumgarner 

Native Ground – Samantha Bumgarner: The Original Banjo Pickin’ Girl 

North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources – Aunt Samantha Bumgarner, Traditional Musician 

The Sylva Herald – Aunt Samantha, First Women to Record Country Music, Was Known as “Fiddlin’ Banjo Woman of Mountains” 

Olive Dame Campbell

Birthplace of Country Music – Giving the Dame Her Due: Olive Dame Campbell and the History of Ballad Collecting 

Campbell, Olive Dame. Appalachian Travels: The Diary of Olive Dame Campbell. Edited by Elizabeth M. Williams. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2012.

Campbell, Olive Dame. The Life and Work of John C. Campbell. Edited by Elizabeth M. Williams. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017

John C. Campbell Folk School – A Tribute to Olive Dame Campbell, 1882–1954

NCpedia – Olive Dame Campbell 


Martha Carson

Hillbilly-Music.com – The Amburgey Sisters 


Maybelle and Sara Carter

Birthplace of Country Music – Instrument Interview: Maybelle Carter’s Guitar

Encyclopedia Virginia – Sara Carter

Lasky, David and Frank Young. The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2012.

NPR – A Lifetime of Labor: Maybelle Carter at Work

NPR – Mother, Matriarch, and Mentor

NPR – For Women Musicians, Maybelle Carter Set the Standard and Broke the Mold

Zwonitzer, Mark and Charles Hirshberg. Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? The Carter Family and Their Legacy in Country Music. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.


Elizabeth Cotten

National Endowment for the Arts – Elizabeth Cotten 

NPR – How Elizabeth Cotten’s Music Fueled the Folk Revival 

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage – A “Freight Train” Picker: Elizabeth Cotten 

Smithsonian Folkways – Elizabeth Cotten: Master of American Folk Music 

Smithsonian Magazine – Libba Cotten’s Guitar 

Smithsonian Magazine – The Magnificent Musical Life of Upside-Down Guitar Player Libba Cotten 


Cousin Emmy

AllMusic.com – Cousin Emmy

Cousin Emmy. “Cousin Emmy by Herself,” transcribed by John Cohen. Sing Out 18, no. 2 (1968): 26–27.

Richey, Nancy. “Cousin Emmy: Playing in a Man’s World.” Kentucky Humanities (Fall 2018): 24–29.


DeZurik Sisters

Hillbilly-Music.com – The DeZurik Sisters


Katherine Jackson French

DiSavino, Elizabeth. Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky’s Forgotten Ballad Collector. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2020.


Jane Hicks Gentry

Smith, Betty N. Jane Hicks Gentry: A Singer Among Singers. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998.


Alice Gerrard

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum – Alice Gerrard

New York Times – Alice Gerrard Didn’t Plan a Bluegrass Career. She Broke Its Glass Ceiling.

Smithsonian Folkways – Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard


Texas Gladden

Appalachian History – People Who Sing Operettas Shouldn’t Tinker Around with Mountain Music 

The Association for Cultural Equity – Texas Gladden: Ballad Legacy 

Berea Sound Archives – Interview with Texas Gladden

Birthplace of Country Music – The Root of It: Vivian Leva on Texas Gladden

The Lomax Digital Archive – Interview with Texas Gladden about the Stories Behind Songs 

The Roanoke Times – WOYM: Remembering a Roanoke County Folk Musician Who Helped Save the Old Songs 

Wade, Stephen. The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Audrey Hash Ham

Blue Ridge Heritage – Audrey Hash Ham

Smith, Malcolm. Appalachian Fiddler Albert Hash: The Last Leaf on the Tree (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies, 47). Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2020.

Virginia Folklife Program, Virginia Humanities – In Loving Memory of Audrey Hash Ham


Jayne Henderson

E. J. Henderson Guitars 


Aunt Molly Jackson

American Studies, University of Virginia – Kentucky Coal Mining Diva, Aunt Molly Jackson: A Study of Folk Authenticity ​​ 

Library of Congress, Folklife Today – Aunt Molly Jackson Tells Witch Tales for Halloween 

Smithsonian Folkways – The Songs and Stories of Aunt Molly Jackson (liner notes) 


Dena Jennings

WV Public Broadcasting – How Black Musicians and Luthiers Are Reclaiming the Banjo 


Ramona Jones

Jones, Ramona. Make Music While You Can. Empire Publishing, 2000. 

Music Row – Lifenotes: Old-Time Country Traditionalist Ramona Jones Passes 


Lottie Kimbrough

Wildwood Flower Podcast – Season 1, Episode 2: Lottie Kimbrough 


Lily May Ledford

Berea College, Special Collections and Archives – Lily May Ledford Collection, 1936–1985 

National Endowment for the Arts – Lily May Ledford 


Leola Manning

Olson, Ted and Tony Russell. The Knoxville Sessions, 1929–1930: Knox County Stomp. Germany: Bear Family Records, 2016.


Dellie Norton

Blue Ridge Heritage – Dellie Norton 


Molly O’Day

AllMusic.com – Molly O’Day 

Kentucky’s US23: Country Music Highway – Molly O’Day 

West Virginia Music Hall of Fame – Molly O’Day 


Cathy Barton Para

Cathy Barton & Dave Para: Hand-Me-Down Music


Dolly Parton

Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum – Dolly Parton 

Hamessley, Lydia R. Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2020.

Library of Congress – Dolly Parton and the Roots of Country Music 

Parton, Dolly. Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

Parton, Dolly and Robert K. Oermann. Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics.  San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2020.

PBS – Ken Burns’ Country Music: Dolly Parton Biography 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Inductees: Dolly Parton 


Bernice Johnson Reagon

Smithsonian Magazine – New Comic Honors Civil Rights Singer Bernice Johnson Reagon on Her 80th Birthday 


Ola Belle Reed

Blue Ridge Heritage – Ola Belle Reed 

Murphy, Clifford R., Henry Glassie, Douglas Dowling Peach, and Ola Belle Reed. Ola Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon Line. Atlanta: Dust-to-Digital, 2015.

National Endowment for the Arts – Ola Belle Reed 


Elaine Carson Schatz

Watauga Democrat – Legendary Appalachian Dancer, Teacher Eileen Carson Schatz Loses Battle with Cancer 


Matokie Slaughter

UNC University Libraries – Photo of the Week: Matokie Slaughter 


Emily and Martha Spencer

Music Maker Relief Foundation – Martha Spencer

Virginia Folklife Program, Virginia Humanities – Emily Spencer and Kilby Spencer

Virginia Folklife Program, Virginia Humanities – Emily Spencer and Lisa Ring

The Whitetop Mountain Band 


Patsy, Donna, and Roni Stoneman

Stoneman, Roni and Ellen Wright. Pressing On: The Roni Stoneman Story. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

The Tennessean – Patsy Stoneman, Member of Pioneering Country Music Family, Dies 

Bluegrass Unlimited – The Return of Donna Stoneman, First Lady of the Mandolin 

Hillbilly-Music.com – Roni Stoneman 


Lillian Werbin

Bluegrass Pride – Lillian Werbin 


Helen White

Bluegrass Today – Helen White Passes 

Virginia Folklife Program, Virginia Humanities – Kay Justice and Helen White 

VPM – In Your Ear, Episode 65: Wayne Henderson and Helen White 


Vivian Williams

Bluegrass Today – Vivian Williams Passes 


Sunshine Sue Workman

Richmond Magazine – “Barn” Stormer  

Women and Ballads

Campbell, John C. The Southern Highlander and His Homeland. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1921.
Though published in John Campbell’s name, only the preface and one chapter had been written upon his death. Olive Dame Campbell then compiled their notes and completed the manuscript.

Campbell, Olive Dame. Southern Highland Schools Maintained by Denominational and Independent Agencies. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1921.

Campbell, Olive Dame. The Danish Folk School: Its Influence in the Life of Denmark and the North. New York: Macmillan, 1928.

Hammesly, Lydia R. “A Resisting Performance of an Appalachian Traditional Murder Ballad: Giving Voice to ‘Pretty Polly.’” Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 9 (2005), 13–36.

Sharp, Cecil and Olive Dame Campbell. English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. New York & London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1917.

She Shreds –  The History of Murder Ballads and the Women Who Flipped the Script 

k-12 Lesson Plan

Watch this space – coming soon!