Vital Words and Actions in the Work of May Justus and Richard Chase

Fiddle Away by Justus coverThree Sillies by Chase cover
By Tina L. Hanlon
, Ferrum College

This essay was originally presented at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference.
Vital Words and Actions was the theme of the conference,
March 18, 2005.
The essay was revised for AppLit in 2015-17.


May Justus and Richard Chase, who wrote some of the most "vital words" in the history of Appalachian literature for children, were both active in serving and preserving the community life and culture of Appalachia through much of the twentieth century. In many ways they seem like very different figures in twentieth-century American culture. The Jack Tales by Chase, published in 1943, was named a Touchstone of children’s literature by the Children's Literature Association in the 1980s. This influential book and Grandfather Tales are still among the most popular folktale collections in North America. Chase was a colorful and controversial character, a self-promoter who made countless appearances around the country as a storyteller, festival organizer, and lecturer, eager to revive the practice of British-American folk arts. May Justus is much less famous now, even among literature scholars; her books are out of print and she had a quieter life as a rural educator and writer who lived in the same house in Summerfield, Tennessee for most of her adult life, with her partner Vera McCampbell.

Yet these two authors also had much in common. They lived through the same decades (Justus from 1898 to 1989 and Chase from 1904 to 1988) and they both wrote books full of mountain folklore and fiction that were read from coast to coast through the mid-twentieth century. Both were outspoken advocates of social justice and regional education, who lived unconventional personal lives but won the hearts of their students, readers, and collaborators. Relatively little has been written about both authors, although Chase's folktales are reprinted and mentioned in countless sources, and a few scholarly essays have been written about Justus in recent years. This essay discusses some of their lesser known vital words and actions, as well as their major contributions to the preservation of Appalachian folklore and the enrichment of Appalachian culture through their literary achievements.

Chase is best known for collecting folklore from descendants of European immigrants, and there has been justifiable criticism of twentieth-century folk festivals, performances, and publications such as his, which seemed to ignore cultural diversity in Appalachia and sometimes overshadowed the folklore and talents of local people. But Chase often commented on the blending of cultural traditions throughout European and American history (see his Preface in The Jack Tales, for example). His work with African American and Native American cultures is also worth remembering. His letters record his efforts to speak out on behalf of a variety of social justice issues, as well as his appreciation for the cultural heritage of minority populations. For example, he observed that Native American children who were familiar with oral traditions were more attentive audiences for his own storytelling. He told a 1975 class at Appalachian State University that Native American children in Michigan laughed more at his "Wicked John". [1]

Chase also edited a reissue of African American tales from the nineteenth century in The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris, published in 1955 (reprinted in 2002 by Houghton Mifflin, and in 2006 as an Easton Press leather-bound collector's edition). Some of Chase's comments in the Editor's Introduction may sound outdated or condescending today, but he pays eloquent tribute to the way "these tales grew up in the soil of our nation. They came from the soul of the people…. Identity of race and race tradition is a treasure that all Americans, white or black or red, can keep in spite of the bewildering cross currents of lore and learning in our modern age. This identity, this integrity is important.… Traditions and separate cultures overlap always and everywhere in the ways of all races and nations." He describes the African American women who worked for his family, whose songs, philosophy and "great human care for us children are treasures that for me, have never diminished…. And Uncle Remus became part of my life when I was surrounded with these voices, this music. … I could not have written the tales of my own people without this background."

May Justus, growing up in a mountain cabin in Tennessee, did not know any African American people until she was an adult, but once she became familiar with segregation and its effects on her friends, she became a courageous defender of civil rights. Her career as a teacher, activist, and writer is described eloquently in George Loveland's article "A Greater Fairness: May Justus as Popular Educator." Justus began writing stories about mountain children and teaching in Smoky Mountain communities in the 1920s, but her volunteer work with the Highlander Folk School gave her a wider involvement with adult education, labor organizing, and civil rights issues. To the end of her life she maintained a delicate balance to retain the loyalty and love of her mountain neighbors while following her conscience in actions such as her spunky testimony in defense of civil rights activists who were charged with communism by the state.  New Boy in School illustration

Two of Justus' stories were probably the first books for younger children about desegregation. She was motivated to extend her literary settings from the mountains to the city of Nashville while witnessing the discrimination suffered by friends and colleagues, such as African American activist Septima Clark. New Boy in School (1963, illustrated by Joan Balfour Payne) is about an African American boy who struggles to fit in at an all-white school after his family moves from Louisiana to Nashville. Like her other characters who have similar troubles overcoming the stigma of being a Two boys' heads from New Boy in Schoolnewcomer in a mountain school, Lennie and his family use their own talents and cultural heritage to solve a problem. After Lennie's father helps him remember a traditional folk song, "I Wish I was an Apple," the class loves the song so much that Lennie and his friend perform it at the Parents Day program with great success. Justus said in later years that the book had been well received: "The Conference of Christians and Jews made it a Brotherhood Book and People of the English Speaking Union chose it as an Ambassador Book" (Wigginton). This story and the two illustrations shown here were reprinted in 2006 in Crosscurrents of Children's Literature: An Anthology of Texts and Criticism, in a chapter on Censorship and Values (Oxford UP).

In a similar short chapter book, A New Home for Billy (1966), Justus depicts an African American family that moves from the city, where children are not safe playing on the streets, to an all-white suburb. This story deals more explicitly with housing discrimination and the neighbors' stereotypical assumptions about the family's run-down house, while both books provide idealistic models of community, family and school relationships in the end. Eventually Billy's family makes friends, as others realize they want to fix up their house and neighbors pitch in to help. For an illustration by Joan Balfour Payne from this book, see AppLit bibliography "Books by May Justus for Children and Young Adults."

Unlike Justus, Chase did not grow up with the mountain folklore that consumed his adult life. He was born on the southern fringes of Appalachia, in Huntsville, Alabama, in a family that was partly of New England heritage, and he traveled widely in his early life, studying at Harvard and other colleges. Before finishing a degree in botany at Antioch College in Ohio, he was hiking in Kentucky in 1924, when he heard children sing the ballad "Merry Golden Tree" at Pine Mountain Settlement School, and became fascinated with the British-American folklore of the Appalachian mountains. From then on, he immersed himself in both informal and academic study and teaching of folklore by participating in recreation workshops and festivals, and joining and organizing dance and music societies. He emulated humble rural singers and storytellers as well as professionals such as Cecil Sharp, the English folklorist who had published ballads he collected in the American South.

Chase taught audiences British Morris dances, sword dances, puppetry, folk dramas and rituals that were not from their living traditions, but also encouraged them to collect folklore from their own families. [2] "Uncle Dick" boldly advertised his services as "master stoRichard Chase and puppet entertaining crowd of childrenryteller" and made countless appearances at schools and libraries nationwide for the rest of his life, [3] inspiring many descriptions of the eccentric character wearing berets with feathers and Indian necklaces. [4] Cantankerous and impatient if students or colleagues were slow to respond, [5] he was also a captivating "Pied Piper" (as one teacher said at his memorial service), who made everyone laugh, sing, and dance with him. [6] A 1976 newspaper article describes him entertaining children in Martinsville, Virginia with his stories and the impromptu appearance of his monkey puppet. He compared telling a story to telling a joke, using humor and interest, "only it's longer" (Stone 8, photo from Martinsville article at left).

Chase's legendary meeting with Marshall Ward in 1935, when Ward attended one of his folk song workshops in North Carolina, introduced Chase to the Jack tales and the long storytelling tradition of Ward's relations in the Hicks-Harmon family of Beech Mountain. Ward was a school teacher who asked Chase if he knew stories about a boy named Jack; he told the tales himself for sixty-five years and was glad when some of them were preserved in Chase's books (Whitener). Although Chase began recording songs and tales for archives and journals in the the 1930s, and the tales from Southwestern Virginia that he helped collect for the Virginia Writers Project were never published by the state or the Works Progress Administration, the next two decades of successful books brought him fame and royalties. [7]

After The Jack Tales (1943), Chase compiled Grandfather Tales: American-English American Folk Tales and Songs coverFolk Tales (1948). This book combines a frame story about a folklorist visiting mountain families, who tell each other their favorite stories at an Old Christmas holiday gathering, with two dozen comic and adventurous folktales. They include some of the best-known Appalachian tales that don't feature Jack, such as "Old Dry Fry" and a variant of "The Three Little Pigs," and a noteworthy number of tales that do feature heroic females, such as "Mutsmag," "Ashpet," and "Whitebear Whittington" (Hanlon). These collections as well as American Folk Tales and Songs, and Other Examples of English-American Tradition as Preserved in the Appalachian Mountains and Elsewhere in the United States (1956) have been reprinted continuously since they were published. A slim 1949 book, also still in print, was renamed Singing Games and Playparty Games when reprinted by Dover in 1967. Its eighteen "traditional English-American dances," such as "The Noble Duke of York" and "In and Out the Window," with piano music, instructions, and drawings, are "part of the cultural heritage of all who speak the English language" (Chase's Foreword).

In three picture books Chase adapted the song Billy Boy (1966) and the tales Wicked John and the Devil (1951) and Jack and the Three Sillies (1950, cover shown at top of page). Many of his songs and tales are featured on audio and video recordings, with music and retellings by Chase, who played harmonica, and other performers. Some of these old recordings and filmstrips have been appearing online in digital archives and YouTube. Like the Grimm Brothers, Chase acknowledged that he combined and edited oral sources, earning some criticism for distorting the folklore record and dialect of his informants as well as high praise for making the tales accessible to family audiences everywhere. Michael McGrorty, a librarian who found an old copy of The Jack Tales in a thrift store, noted in 2004 that it was the 52nd copy held by one California library system and that he greeted it like an old friend from his junior high years. Lots of school officials over the years have said they didn't want "hillbilly" lore in their schools, but many people who grew up in Appalachia remember fondly the teachers who read them Jack tales—every Friday afternoon in some classrooms, or when the class had earned a treat. McGrorty observed,

The language of the book is as entertaining as anything Mark Twain ever put in the mouth of his characters. The words simply ring true and the stories read very well.... The stories are deceptively simple yet possess the depth of Aesop's stories, though without the implied lesson which made those tales part of the approved canon for centuries. Jack is nobody's fool, but he really isn't anybody's hero, either; he is simply himself, and in that the living embodiment of an American pluck and cleverness that overcomes,Richard Chase and Rex Stephenson, late 1970s  though seldom in a sweet Mother-Goose method. The Jack stories have much in common with the unvarnished versions of Grimm's Fairy Tales, where the wicked end up in the oven rather than their intended victims and somebody, be it a witch or just an ordinary giant, is taught a lesson at his own game and expense.

Chase's versions of individual folktales continue to be reprinted in anthologies and textbooks; they are also cited as an influence in many current oral and written retellings of American folktales, by picture book artists, editors of story collections, dramatists, filmmakers, and professional storytellers. For example, the Ferrum College Jack Tale Players performed story theatre adaptations of tales inspired by Chase for thirty-seven years, after writer/director Rex Stephenson's young daughter Janice took a copy of The Jack Tales home from her elementary school in 1975. Both photographs shown here (with Rex Stephenson, at right) come from Chase's two visits to Ferrum in the late 1970s to advise and share stories with The Jack Tale Players [8]. Since Stephenson had to seek out archive copies of tales because he and the schools he served couldn't afford the royalties that the publisher would charge for adapting tales directly from the books, Chase told him "Wicked John" so that he could use that oral gift free of charge. "Wicked John" has remained one of Stephenson's most popular retellings ever since. He continues to tell the tales on his own and with a small group called The Jack Tale Storytellers, still developing new adaptations. In 2016 he and middle schoolers in his Ferrum College Summer Enrichment Camp class produced a new dramatization of "Like Meat Loves Salt" (one of the tales in Chase's Grandfather Tales). Stephenson calls Chase the best storyteller he ever heard.

May Justus also collected folklore and performed for and with the children and neighbors who loved her. For fifty years, she wrote about sixty-five books of fiction and poetry for children and young adults (with publication dates 1928-75), most set in Smoky Mountain cabins, schools and communities like the ones where she grew up and taught school. In The Junior Book of Authors she wrote, "My childhood home May Justus on CD cover was a cabin very much like Matt's and Glory's in The Cabin on Kettle Creek.... The glad and sad adventures of my book children are rooted in my experiences as a little girl—experiences shared by my brother Hal and my sister Helen." She also wrote numerous poems, hymns, and articles published in a wide variety of anthologies and periodicals. "In 1978, May began work on what she said would be her last book, a volume of children's poems. 'I've written that last storybook,' she said then. 'My first love was not stories. My first love was poetry'" (Dykes and Watley 5).

[Photo at left from 2011 CD May Justus: The Carawan Recordings]

Justus' writings, as well as testimonies from many people who revered her as a teacher, neighbor, and activist, show how she depicted and practiced methods of teaching and living that she believed were best for children. In The House in No-End Hollow, one of the orphaned Turner children, Becky, has a little school for the neighborhood children, based on Justus' experience of doing that when she was fifteen with her sister Helen, when the school closed for the winter (Wigginton interview). Betty Lou of Big Log Mountain contrasts a teacher named Miss Witherspoon from a strict missionary family, who wears only black, distributes religious tracts, and can't warm up to an exuberant child like Betty Lou, with other characters who fill in to help with the teaching at Big Log Mountain; they represent a loving and humane as well as reverential approach to religion, education, science, and community service. Honey Jane depicts the building of a school on Thunder Mountain and Honey Jane's father is a good interim teacher until they find just the right woman who brings gentle, winning manners; stories of world travel; and a piano from the city. Memories of Justus' students and articles she wrote for teachers emphasize that she believed in making learning fun and interactive. Robin Bates wrote, "A children's book writer tha[t] I knew as a child, the Appalachian author May Justus, told me that she occasionally stuck difficult words into books intended for very young children (such as The Wonderful School of Miss Tillie O'Toole) because they find it to be an invigorating game" ("Can Donne Help?").

Justus' students also learned valuable life lessons at school and in her home. During the Depression she organized a school soup pot that everyone enjoyed, took children's wet socks home to wash, and took sick children to a doctor who asked for no payment. After she stopped teaching full-time, Justus worked with handicapped children in her small home and created a library in her attic, adding donated books from publishers who would visit her. She corresponded with and visited with former pupils to the end of her life. She remembered one visitor saying, "How happy I was to climb those steep stairs to the library every Friday afternoon and get a book or two which I could read at home over the weekend" (qtd. in Dykes and Watley 4).

In her fiction, Justus wove some of the same characters and communities through several different picture books, chapter books, longer novels, or story collections. For example, No-End Hollow is the setting for a number of stories. Peter Pocket, the child protagonist of her earliest fiction, is an orphan who finds a home with an older woman, a Granny with a big heart and little income. Recovering poems written by his father, who was an "outlander Song-Maker," and developing his inherited musical talents enable Peter to help with their household's meager finances. Peter has a dog, Pickle Pup, who is a title character in one Peter Pocket book. Then Justus' dog characters became so popular that she wrote a number of stories about dogs. Hunkydory first appeared in Toby Has a Dog in 1949 and then in two Little Golden Books. She also wrote many stories about children in school, and depicted other community events and traditional folkways. Justus said she was the first to receive a Julius Rosenthal fellowship for children's books, which supported her around 1940, during the year that she wrote Dixie Decides. She described that novel as "a bit advanced for that time" because it depicts an alcoholic father. She also wrote Cabin on Kettle Creek instead of just one book during the fellowship year. Then the Literary Guild accepted five of her books (Wigginton). Over the years many of her stories appeared within series Big Log Mountain on exhibitby different publishers, including Little Golden Books; some were reprinted with different titles and sometimes revised content, and some reappeared in educational publications.

It is noteworthy that Justus' well-written stories dating back to 1928 contain so little that seems outdated or stereotypical. They may be somewhat idealized, like other children's books before the development of New Realism in children's books in the 1960s; her orphans and stray dogs almost always find warm shelters and kind caregivers, and outsiders are usually sympathetic—but characters do suffer from poverty and injustice while retaining their dignity as individuals. Some of her child characters take on weighty responsibilities, caring for siblings or helping parents, grandparents, and neighbors. "Growing children mature through recognizing their interdependence with the larger society" (Loveland). Justus received and answered letters from children all over the world (Burns and Hines, Dykes and Watley) and an undated clipping I've seen from the Raleigh [NC] Observer described Justus as "one of the South's best known authors." I purchased used copies of her books that came from across North America and I've heard from people outside Appalachia who remember books by Justus fondly from their childhood. The May Justus Memorial Library in Monteagle, Tennessee was named in memory of Justus in 1988. The photo at right shows one of her young adult novels on display in the historic schoolhouse at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine in West Virginia (9/23/16).

Although most of Justus' fiction is essentially in the realistic mode, while Chase's books and recordings are filled with folklore he collected as an adult, Justus also Fiddlers' Fair coverused folklore in nearly every book. She learned ballads from her mother, whose mother was English, and fiddle tunes from her father. She wrote, "Many of the games and songs I learned from my schoolmates you may find in my stories of boys and girls at school." Roberta Herrin described Justus as primarily "a local colorist–not a realist," writing books "rich in mountain lore and culture,... building many plots around ballads" (35). Whether they are in a story's background or central to the plot, traditional songs and rhymes appear often, sometimes with musical scores. For example, "Tale of a Pig" is a folk song found in several of her books, including a picture book devoted to it with the same title. Fiddle Away features a version of the folk song known as "The Swapping Song," played during a fiddle contest after Honey Jane buys her cousin Joe John a new fiddle. Fiddlers' Fair is also about preparing for a fiddle contest, and several stories depict "songcatchers" who collected ballads. The Complete Peddler's Pack, published in 1957 and expanded in 1967, is a collection of rhymes, songs, and games from traditional lore. Justus noted that the nonsense rhymes came from Pig Trot School, near Bridgeport, Tennessee, which she attended from 1905 to 1912. Dykes and Watley called this book "probably the best known, certainly the one she's most pleased with" (p. 3). This book's "weather rhymes" were reprinted in the 2003 anthology Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia.

Justus adapted regional tall tales and folktales within realistic settings in several books. For example, both Eben and the Jumping JohnnyRattlesnake and Right House for Rowdy contain a version of the old tall tale "The Snake-bit Hoe Handle." In Right House for Rowdy, the tale is told that a hoe handle swollen from a snake bite produced enough wood to build a doghouse. In another story Jumping Johnny, who is himself nearly a tall tale character with his incredible jumping ability, has an experience based on an old folktale when he visits the do-nothing Whiddie family, who put their ten children to bed one at a time and then prop each sleeping child against the wall for the night because there is no room for everyone to lie down (illustration at right by John Henneberger from Jumping Johnny and Skedaddle, 1958). It Happened in No End Hollow and Tales from Near-Side and Far are short collections of tales like these that were published in a series called American Folk Tales. Children of the Great Smoky Mountains (1952), a longer collection of new and reprinted short stories about Justus' popular mountain characters, includes mountain folkways in each of the sixteen stories, especially folk songs and ballads (some with music) but also riddles, quilting, holiday traditions, food, farming, and folk beliefs.

Justus observed that she traveled widely in her little community as Thoreau did in Concord. She said in an interview, "I live in a little pocket here in Summerfield, but the books, of course, have gone out all over the world" (Wigginton). While describing social change in a 1964 journal article, she said, "If my own stories and books have a lasting value it is, I hope, in the field of regional literature," which "preserve[s] the history of a people to whom I belong, with whom I am glad to claim kin as a Tennessee Mountaineer.… As time goes on much mountain folklore which has distinct value will be lost forever unless it is set down in literary form.… It is true Americana—a precious jewel to be treasured for posterity" (Burns and Hines 590). An elderly storyteller in Chase's Grandfather Tales says that when "this new generation . . . find the old songs and the old tales, they'll delight in 'em" (231). Both Chase and Justus, inspired by the classic literature they loved from their youth, recorded Appalachian folklore of their time as literary artists who were also immersed in oral traditions. They worked tirelessly in their dual roles of "creative folk" and "action folk" to fulfill their visions of enriching the lives of American children by passing on stories from Appalachia that have universal appeal and meaning.


Notes

1. Much of the background discussion in this essay is based on research in unpublished papers as well as clippings and recordings that are not always fully labeled, and many conversations with Rex Stephenson about working with Chase at Ferrum College. I have also discussed Chase multiple times with his daughter, Anne Chase, and read her unpublished scrapbook of reminiscences. I am indebted to George Loveland for use of his notes and insights from his research on May Justus, including conversations with her friend Scott Bates and others. I read and listened to a variety of materials in the Richard Chase Papers, 1928-1988 (Archives of W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University Libraries, Boone, NC). In an audiocassette recording of a lecture for an unidentified 1975 class at Appalachian State University, Chase discusses folklore in general and urges students to find out about their own heritage and collect family folklore. He says "Indian kids" in Michigan are more accustomed to oral traditions and laughed more at his "Wicked John." He discusses variants of the song "Billy Boy" and tells "Wicked John and the Devil." He also says of his Grandfather Tales that "it's a much better book" than The Jack Tales.

2. In addition to the sources mentioned in Note 1, I read comments that Patti Blanco wrote online in 2009 about "Uncle Dick": "This takes me back. I knew Richard Chase well at this time. He was my dance master. Many the time we'd settle in to listen to his tellin'. There it was, that twinkle in the eye, the arched eyebrow with that 'just between you and me' intimacy, the casual hand gestures that told so much of the story.... My favorite story was Wicked John and the Devil, which I have retold several times. I have passed many things on that he taught me through the oral tradition." 

3. Flyers in the papers of the Jack Tale Players at Ferrum College and Richard Chase Papers at Appalachian State U describe these activities.

4. See, for example, Tom Riesenberg, "Richard Chase Enthralls Children with Songs, Stories," The Mountain Eagle 28, Oct. 1976, and other clippings in ASU archives.

5. A Philadelphia storyteller at Richard Chase memorial service (video, ASU archives); Chase, 1975 class lecture (audiotape, ASU archives); Perdue's anecdote about the first time he saw Chase perform in 1958, in par. 2 of Perdue's 2001 article.

6. Remarks of teacher Elaine at Richard Chase memorial service (video, ASU archives). See also article by Shuckett in this web site.

7. Some of the tales Chase collected in Southwestern Virginia, such as "Munsmeg," "Old Guy Frye," and "Fool Jack and the Talking Crow," are reprinted in AppLit's Fiction and Poems section. James Taylor Adams of Wise County had the collectors working with him make typed and carbon copies of folklore they collected. You can see in the samples in this web site that Chase's copies don't include detailed notes on the storytellers like the ones Adams collected himself, but Chase's published books contain notes on sources of each tale and tale types.

8. The news article by Stone cited here describes Chase entertaining audiences and critiquing the Ferrum College Jack Tale Players, as do other articles listed in AppLit's bibliography "Dramas and Tales by R. Rex Stephenson." It's interesting that Chase was quoted in 1976 as saying, "I hope Professor Stephenson will consider presenting the play year after year," since Stephenson has now (in 2017) been retelling the tales continuously for forty-two years ("Richard Chase Praises"). For photos of Stephenson's Enrichment Camp students performing folktales, see the album called Summer Enrichment Camp Drama Classes, attached to the Facebook page The Jack Tales. Other performance photos and video clips are attached to this Facebook page and The Jack Tale Storytellers and Jack Tale Players web site.

References

Most links within the essay above are to other AppLit pages, along with some links to outside resources. Citations for all publications by Richard Chase and May Justus, as well as other background material, can be found in these AppLit bibliographies:

Bibliography of Works by and about Richard Chase

Books by May Justus for Children and Young Adults

Bates, Robin. "Can Donne Help Us Cope with Death?" Better Living through Beowulf, 12 Nov. 2014. Accessed 7/10/17.

Bates, Robin. "My Memories of a Mountain Writer." Better Living through Beowulf, 17 Oct. 2011. Accessed 7/10/17.

Bates, Robin. "My Town's Desegregation Battles." Better Living through Beowulf, 20 Jan. 2014. Accessed 7/10/17.

Blanco, Patti. Online comment, Dec. 2, 2009. "Old Roaney told by Richard Chase." Archive.org. N.d. Accessed 8/20/16.

Burns, Paul C., and Ruth Hines. "May Justus: Tennessee's Mountain Jewel." Elementary English, vol. 41, October 1964, pp. 589-93.

Chase, Richard. "Editor's Note." The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus. By Joel Chandler Harris. Illus. Arthur Burdett Frost (and others). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955.

Dykes, Donna and Thelma Watley. "Women of Grundy: May Justus." The Pathfinder, vol. III, no. 3, 1998, pp. 3-7. Linked in Grundy County Tennessee History. Grundy County Historical Society. Accessed July 2017.

Hanlon, Tina L. "Mutsmag: An Appalachian Folk Heroine and her European Ancestors." Full text in AppLit, 2015-16.

Hanlon, Tina L. "Strong Women in Appalachian Folktales." The Lion & the Unicorn, vol. 24, April 2000, pp. 225-46.

Hanlon, Tina L. and R. Rex Stephenson. "Interview with Rex Stephenson on The Jack Tale Players." Guest blog. Home to Author-Illustrator-Teacher-Speaker Elizabeth O. Dulemba. 7 Jan. 2016.

Herrin, Roberta. "Appalachian Books for All Children." Now and Then, vol. 4.1, 1987, pp. 34-35. ERIC no. ED310896.

The Jack Tales. Facebook. 2017.

Justus, May. "Weather Rhymes." Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia. Ed. Sandra L. Ballard and Patricia L. Hudson. Univ. Press of KY, 2003.

Loveland, George. "May Justus as Popular Educator." Journal of Research in Rural Education, vol. 17, Fall 2001, pp. 102-11. Reprinted in AppLit, 2002.

McGrorty, Michael. "About a Book." California Libraries, July 2004. Reprinted in AppLit, 2008.

May Justus: The Carawan Recordings. Knoxville, TN: Jubilee Community Arts, 2011. Sound recording.

Mikkelsen, Nina. "Richard Chase's Jack Tales: A Trickster in the New World." Touchstones: Reflections on the Best in Children's Literature. Vol. 2: Fairy Tales, Fables, Myths, Legends and Poetry. Ed. Perry Nodelman. West Lafayette, IN: Children's Literature Association, 1987, pp. 40-55.

Perdue, Charles L., Jr., "Chase, Richard (1904-1988)." American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. Ed. Jan Harold Brunvand. New York: Garland, 1996, pp. 135-36.

Perdue, Charles L., Jr. "Is Old Jack Really Richard Chase?" Journal of Folklore Research, vol. 38, 2001, pp. 111-38.

Richard Chase Papers, 1928-1988. Archives of W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University Libraries, Boone, NC.

"Richard Chase Praises Ferrum's 'Jack Tales.'" Ferrum College Press Release. 19 Oct. 1976. Copy in papers of Jack Tale Players, Ferrum College, Ferrum, VA.

Schuckett, Sandy. "Regarding Richard Chase: Two Memorable Meetings." California Libraries, August 2004. Reprinted in AppLit 2008.

Stone, Nancy. "'Jack Tales': Nervous Ferrum Actors Face Folklore Collector." Martinsville Bulletin [VA], 13 Oct. 1976, pp. 1, 8.

Whitener, Rogers. "A Ride with Marshall Ward." Oct. 24, 1979. Rpt. "Selections from 'Folk-Ways and Folk-Speech.'" North Carolina Folklore Journal, vol. 29, Spring-Summer 1981, pp. 76-78.

Wigginton, E. Interview with May Justus. Transcript archived at Harry Lasker Library, Highlander Research and Education Center, New Market, TN, 1988?.


Tina L. Hanlon teaches English in southwestern Virginia at Ferrum College and the Hollins University Summer Graduate Program in Children's Literature. A co-director of the web site AppLit, she loves to write about folktales, fantasy, and Appalachian literature for children.


Appalachian Fiction for Children and Young Adults

Appalachian Folktales in Children's Literature and Collections for All Ages

Bibliography of Dramas and Tales by R. Rex Stephenson

Realistic Appalachian Picture Books


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