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The Jay Bailey Folk Music & Folklore Collection

The Jay Bailey Folk Music & Folklore Collection Bookplate. Click to view larger

Story originally ran in Spring 1998 Perspectives

Diane Bailey, daughter of folk music scholar Jay Bailey, generously donated The Jay Bailey Folk Music & Folklore Collection to Special Collections and University Archives. The collection consists of books, notes, manuscripts, audio cassettes, and videotapes on folk music and folklore that belonged to her father, Jay Bailey.

She says, "The notes and manuscripts were created by him while conducting research on the five-string banjo and related music." Many of the audio cassettes and videotapes in the collection were recorded by him as well.

Bailey was born in 1935 in Cordell. When he was a teenager in a St. Louis preparatory school he borrowed a teacher's recording of the "Sod Buster Ballads." The record included the Almanac Singers and folk great Pete Seeger. After the first listen, he was hooked; he had to learn to play the banjo.

By the time he died in 1995, he was a collector of banjos, knew hundreds of folk songs and was a recognized expert on both. In one interview, comparing folk music to pop, he said, "Folk music has more interesting musical and lyrical content. It has humor and pathos and gives the flavor of what the country was like. While history tells what actually happened, folklore is what people think happened. It depicts the drama of an incident rather than the historical correctness."

Bailey graduated in 1957 from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in letters and was one of that year's seven Rhodes Scholarship candidates. He completed a master's in education in 1962.

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Some Local Resources:

View the items in the The Jay Bailey Folk Music & Folklore Collection

View items held in the OSU Libraries about Folk Music or Folklore


For information on the H. Louise & H.E. "Ed" Cobb Speaker Series presented by the Friends of the OSU Library, contact Debbie Clemons at or 405-744-7273.

For more information on giving to the Library contact the Tylerr Ropp at or 405-385-5664 or contact Jill Johnson at or 405-385-0733.