Laura Smyth is the Library and Archives Director of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library – the library of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). As well as leading on digitisation projects to make collections accessible, e.g. Full English Extra and Carpenter Folk Online (in collaboration with the Elphinstone Institute and the Library of Congress), Laura has more recently been working on a project to create a folk song subject index.
Laura is an accomplished folk singer and dancer in her own right.
In recent years there has been a revival of interest in folk songs and music – the everyday music of the common people. However, in the late 19th century the concept of folk song was relatively new and very exciting. The “discovery” of folk song lead a number of musicians, composers, and historians to form a society to support the collection and publication of folk songs for posterity for fear they were dying out. This talk provides an insight into the collectors, their motivations, and the impact of their work from this Golden Age of Folk Song Collecting. This talk will highlight some of the treasures which form the basis of the EFDSS’s archive, and the recent projects which have made them more accessible.