L. Hanlon, Ph.D.
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Biographical Note: Richard Chase (1904-1988), a native of Huntsville, Alabama, collected, retold or performed, and edited folk tales, songs, games, dances and dramas throughout Appalachia. He spent most of his career in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia, but also lived in California and traveled around the United States teaching children and adults about folklore traditions. His talent for captivating small and huge audiences with his storytelling is legendary. Although not educated as a professional folklorist, Chase was well-educated in classic literature, was familiar with African American and Native American traditions, and was especially interested in the links between Anglo-Celtic and Appalachian folklore. His collections from the 1940s and 1950s are still the most popular folktale books in America except, perhaps, for the Uncle Remus tales (which Chase edited in the 1950s). Chase's tales have been reprinted so often and have influenced so many other storytellers working in different media that there are undoubtedly innumerable sources mentioning his work besides those listed on this page.
In the photo at right, R. Rex Stephenson, founder and director of the Ferrum College Jack Tale Players, consulted with Chase (on right) when he visited Ferrum in the late 1970s, the early years of the Jack Tale Players. See other photos in Jack Tale Players web site.
An author page with more information on Chase's life and work will be added to AppLit later. Contributors to these AppLit pages have studied folk narratives in much more depth than music and other types of folklore.
Note: Chase's retellings of folktales are reprinted in many other collections (such as the Junior Great Books series). See AppLit's pages on Appalachian Folktale Collections and Appalachian Folktales in General Collections, Journals and Web Sites. Specific tales with some details from Chase's source notes are described in AppLit's Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales, as links below on tale titles indicate. None of Chase's collections has been indexed thoroughly in AppLit, but additions are made to these pages periodically; see Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit. Several oral tales collected by Chase and archived in the James Taylor Adams Collection are reprinted in AppLit's Fiction and Poems section. The following collections were compiled and edited by Chase.
American Folk Tales and Songs, and Other Examples of English-American Tradition as Preserved in the Appalachian Mountains and Elsewhere in the United States. Illus. Joshua Tolford. New York: New American Library of World Literature, 1956. Rpt. New York: Dover, 1971. Part 1. Tales contains Ancient Tales (including "Wicked John and the Devil," "Rush Cape," "The Haunted House," and "Mister Fox"—a variant of "Pretty Polly"), Five Jack Tales, The Foolish Irishman Tales (from southwestern Virginia), and Tall Tales. The book's other sections are 2. Ballads, Songs and Hymns, 3. Games and Country Dances, 4. Fiddle Tunes, 5. Odds and Ends, 6. Amateur Collector's Guide, 7. Suggested Further Reading, 8. Title Index. Some riddles are included between selections also. Music edited with the assistance of Raymond Kane McLain, Annabel Morris Buchanan, and John Powell; guitar chord accompaniment by John E. Curtiss. Chase wrote on a hand-written resume that this was "a Dover bestseller." (See Archives, below for manuscripts for this book and Audio for 1957 recording.)
Anglo-American Ballads & Songs. . .. Delaware, Ohio: Cooperative Recreation Service, 1943. 11 pp.
The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus. By Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908). Compiled by Richard Chase. Illus. Arthur Burdett Frost (and others). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955. With Introduction by Chase. Rereleased in 2002 with new jacket art by Barbara McClintock. Chase's Editor's Note reprinted online at University of Virginia Uncle Remus project.
Grandfather Tales: American-English Folk Tales. Illus. Berkeley Williams, Jr. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948. Contains 25 tales with a frame story in which friends and family tell stories to each other and a visiting folklorist. See list of contents in Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit. This collection devotes almost as much attention to female storytellers and characters as to males. Many of these tales are described in AppLit's folktale section on Strong Women and other parts of the Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales. Chase told a class in 1975 that Grandfather Tales is "a much better book" than The Jack Tales (see Archives below).
Hullabaloo, and Other Singing Folk Games. Illus. Joshua Tolford. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949. With six piano settings by Hilton Rufty. Rpt. Singing Games and Playparty Games. Illus. Joshua Tolford. New York: Dover, 1967.
The Jack Tales: Told by R. M. Ward and His Kindred in the Beech Mountain Section of Western North Carolina and by Other Descendants of Council Harmon (1803-1896) Elsewhere in the Southern Mountains: With Three Tales from Wise County, Virginia. Illus. Berkeley Williams, Jr. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1943. 50th Anniversary Edition. Houghton Mifflin, 1993. See list of contents in Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit. As the Preface explains, Chase heard the Jack tales first in 1935 from the Ward family, descendants of the earliest settlers of NC, who told the tales among their family and friends for entertainment and for "keeping the kids on the job" during chores. Eighteen tales, with some variants and many notes on sources in Appendix and Parallels by Herbert Halpert. Named a Touchstone of Children's Literature by the Children's Literature Association in the 1980s (see Mikkelsen's Touchstones essay in Background section below).
At left: Sculpture of the head of Jack used by Berkeley Williams, Jr. when he illustrated Chase's Jack Tales, given to Ferrum College by Mrs. Williams in 1978 (on display in Sale Theatre, Schoolfield Hall, Ferrum College, VA).
Singing Games and Playparty Games - see Hullabaloo, above.
Traditional Ballads, Songs and Singing Games. Chapel Hill: The Institute of Folk Music, 1935. N. pag.
Picture Books by Richard Chase
Billy Boy. Illus. Glen Rounds. San Carlos, CA: Golden Gate Junior Books, 1966. N. pag. Folk song with verses selected by Chase and melody at end. See details, including unpublished comments by Chase, in AppLit's Folktale Picture Book Bibliography.
Jack and the Three Sillies. Illus. Joshua Tolford. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950. See description at this link.
Wicked John and the Devil. Illus. Joshua Tolford. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951. See description at this link. See also clippings in Walser archive, below, for criticism of this book.
See also AppLit's bibliography of Appalachian Folktale Picture Books. Other picture book artists have based their stories directly on Chase's tales; examples of these influences may be given in an author page on Chase in the future. On the Ashpet page, see Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal for a multicultural Cinderella story that uses details from Chase's "Ashpet."
Other Writings by Chase
Folk Games and Country Dances for 4H Clubs. Ed. Richard Chase. Listed as a 20-page book in WorldCat with no publisher or date. Owned by University of Virginia.
"Folk?" Los Angeles Free Press 24 Nov. 1964. Chase defends folk traditions as organic, unreflective, genuine. Understanding his own folk roots involves going deep into past and at times sharing rituals with others such as a Hopi Indian. "There are many Americans who keep, unreflectively, a store of traditions which they call, not 'folklore,' but simply the old songs, the old tales, the old ways. And those of us who preserve this heritage are not just Southern Mountain people, nor are we only country folk. We live in every state, and we can be found in large cities as well as out on the lands. The genuine thing, carried on through generations and acquiring lively local and individual variations, always has strength, beauty, and a sort of quietness that make it, in and of itself, convincing. Often its power resides in understatement. It does not flare into sudden 'popularity' and then die out." There is a revival of folk arts but two thirds of them are sill undiscovered by the public, i.e., dances and tales. Compare Chase's comments on "genuine folk traditions" with criticisms of his work by Perdue, Lindahl, and Whisnant.
"Folk Traditions and Our Cultural Destiny." Commonwealth Jan. 1939: 30-32. Says White Top "was the one festival in America that sets forth in its integrity the musical culture of our people" but "general restoration" of dances "will require skillful social engineering." Insisted that dances "must always come from an inherent social situation" (quoted in Whisnant book 204).
Note: The following are journal publications of tales and notes preceding the 1943 Houghton Mifflin book The Jack Tales. In 1941-42 Chase collected folklore in Wise County, VA for the WPA with James Taylor Adams and made plans for a Wise County book of tales, but the Virginia Writers' Project of the WPA closed in 1942.
"Jack and the Bean Tree." Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. 2 (1938): 199-202.
"Jack and the Fire Dragaman." Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. 5 (1941): 151-55.
"Jack and the Giants." Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. 1 (1937): 35-41.
"Jack's Hunting Trip."
Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. 2 (1938): 145-48.
"The Lion and the Unicorn." Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. 1 (1937): 15-19.
"Lucky Jack." Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. 3 (1939): 21-24.
"Munsmeg." Chase's archive version of "Munsmeg" and Rex Stephenson's script "Mutsmag" is reprinted in Crosscurrents of Children's Literature: An Anthology of Texts and Criticism (ed. J. D. Stahl, Tina L. Hanlon, and Elizabeth Lennox Keyser, Oxford University Press, 2006. In Part 3, Oral and Written Literary Traditions, the folktale and the dramatization represent the relationships between oral traditions and dramatic adaptations.
"The Origin of the Jack Tales." Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. 3 (1939): 187-91.
? "The Stone and the Crucifixion: Faulkner's Light in August." The Kenyon Review, vol. 10, no. 4 (Autumn 1948): 539-551. Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. Note that there was a twentieth-century scholar named Richard Volney Chase (1914-62) who wrote many works on American literature. WorldCat says the Richard Chase born in 1904 wrote this piece. Contemporary Authors also lists him as the editor of a 1960 Riverside edition of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage and it is not clear in WorldCat which Chase is the editor of Crane's book. Sometimes people erroneously assume these two literary men named Richard Chase are the same person.
American Folktales and Songs. New York: New American Library, Tradition Recordings, 1957. LP recording. WorldCat Notes: "'Told by Richard Chase and sung by Jean Ritchie and Paul Clayton." / Recorded, fall 1956." Includes The Gambling Suitor.--That's Once.--The Bashful Courtship.--The Split Dog.--Locks and Bolts.--The Snakebit Hoehandle.--The Old Grey Goose is Dead.--The Big Toe.--The Deaf Woman's Courtship.--Wondrous Love.--The Devil's Questions.--The Man in the Kraut Tub.--The Swapping Song.--The Hickory Toothpick.--The Riddle Song. Program notes by Richard Chase.
American Songs of Revolutionary Times. Olympic Records, 1976. LP recording. Performers Richard Chase, Jean Ritchie, Paul Clayton. If the WorldCat entry is correct, this appears to be a rerelease of the 1956 recording American Folktales and Songs.
Appalachian Breakdown. CD with booklet. Distributed by Universal Music and Video Distribution, 2001. Has the same contents as Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians (see below).
Appalachian Folk Heritage. Videocassette. 50 min. Hickory, NC: Lenoir-Rhyne College, Oct. 26, 1981. "Richard Chase, telling some of the Jack Tales & Grandfather Tales that have made his work distinctive" (citation from WorldCat).
Barbara McDermitt Collection. Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University, 1982. Several of the audiotapes of storytellers telling folktales include Richard Chase. See also Richard Chase Collection below.
Billy Boy. Weston, Conn: Weston Woods Studio, 1970-1979? Sound recording. Verses from the song "Billy Boy," selected by Richard Chase. Sung by Jennifer Brown and Arne Markussen. Arne Markussen, arranger (citation from WorldCat).
Billy Boy. Weston, Conn: Weston Woods Studio, 1966. Animated filmstrip. Verses from the song "Billy Boy," selected by Richard Chase, illustrated by Glen Rounds.
Cat and Mouse. Vidocassette. Appalachian Storyteller Ray Hicks Series. Part 2. Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, 1997. Produced by Luke Barrow, Fandangle Films. "Here Jack has to do all he can to help a young girl overcome the magic spell a wicked witch placed on her by turning her into a cat" (WorldCat). Based on Richard Chase's The Jack Tales. 30 min.
Chase, Richard. Jack and the Robbers. Verdugo CA: Pied Piper Productions, filmstrip1974; video 1987. "Comments: The veteran poseur Richard Chase, who popularized Jack tales to a huge American public in the late '40s and '50s, narrates a Jack tale in App. dialect." Information from Southern Mountaineers Filmography, Appalachian State University Libraries. With partial animation, teacher's guide (WorldCat information).
Chase, Richard. Lecture for an unidentified 1975 class at Appalachian State University. Audio cassette in W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University Libraries. 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 says of Grandfather Tales that "it's a much better book" than The Jack Tales.
Chase, Richard. Richard Chase Tells Three “Jack” Tales from the Southern Appalachians. LP. Sharon, Conn: Folk-Legacy Records,1962. "Jack and the Three Sillies," "Jack and the Robbers," "Jack and the King’s Girl" (about Jack's foolish behavior making the princess laugh). Jacket notes say Chase, “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” discovered Jack tales nearly 30 years before. His books give the Jack tales “written down much as he heard them told, but the printed page, for all of its magic, can offer only a pale replica of the story-teller’s art. 'To get ‘em right, you’ve got to hear ‘em!'—and to hear them right, one should hear them being told to children.” Thus these tales were recorded live in a 2-room school in NE Tenn. with an audience of children.
Cock Robin: Virginia Version. Collected by Richard Chase. Setting by Howard Boatwright,1958. Music manuscript: Songs. 1 score, 4 pp. (citation from WorldCat).
Davis, James A. The Bard of Beech Mountain. Radio broadcast from Station WBT (Charlotte, NC) May 30, 1963 as a program in the series Project Sixty. 2 cassettes. 60 min. Archived in North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. Davis, writer and producer of the program, gives background on Chase and folktales. Excerpts are played from Chase's visits to schools during a tour while he lived on Beech Mt. He sings several songs with the audience, plays the harmonica, discusses the nature and importance of folklore, and tells "Wicked John and the Devil."
Grandfather's Greatest Hits. Whitesburg, KY: June Appal, 1900-1979? LP sound recording. Tales from Chase's Grandfather Tales: "Soap, Soap, Soap," "Gallymanders, Gallymanders," "Chunk of Meat," "Mutsmag," "Two Old Women's Bet." With voices of Don Baker, Jeff Kiser, Marcia McIntosh, Jane Moody, Jack Wright, Angie DeBord, Frank Taylor. Roadside Theater (WorldCat information).
Hardy Hardhead. 1988. Told by Anndrena Belcher from Chase's Jack Tales, in KY Educational TV series of folktale programs Telling Tales. See more details in AppLit's Bibliography of Appalachian Folktales in Films, Dramatic Adaptations, and Storytelling and http://www.ket.org/education.
Hush Little Baby. Weston, Conn: Weston Woods Studio, 1970. LP recording. Songs include "Billy Boy" by Richard Chase, "Casey Jones" by Glen Rounds, "Mommy, Buy Me a China Doll" from book by Aliki and Harve Zemach. Performers Jennifer Brown and Ann Markussen. Also issued as four filmstrips with four booklets, 1974 (WorldCat).
Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians. Los Angeles, CA: Tradition/Everest,1957. LP recording. Also released on CD, 2002. Performers Etta Baker, 1913- ; Boone Reid, b. 1876 or 77; Mrs. Edd Presnell; Lacey Phillips; Hobart Smith, 1897- ; Richard Chase, 1904-. Chase performs "Girl I Left Behind Me" and "Skip to My Lou" on harmonica. Also includes "John Henry" by Hobart Smith, fiddle, and "Pretty Polly" by Etta Baker, guitar. Recorded Virginia and North Carolina, summer 1956 (WorldCat).
Jack and the Fire Dragon. Vidocassette. Appalachian Storyteller Ray Hicks Series. Part 3. Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, 1997. Produced by Luke Barrow, Fandangle Films. Based on Richard Chase's The Jack Tales. 20 min.
Jack and the Robbers. Vidocassette. Appalachian Storyteller Ray Hicks Series. Part 4. Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, 1997. Produced by Luke Barrow, Fandangle Films. Based on Richard Chase's The Jack Tales. 20 min.
"Jack and the Robbers." Told by Richard Chase. Audio cassette with "Big Man Jack Killed Seven at a Whack" told by Ray Hicks. No date given in WorldCat. Owned by Univ. of CA, San Diego.
"The Miller and his Sons." Song with lyrics and score, collected by Richard Chase at Chapel Hill, NC.
Old Songs and Singing Games. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1938. Rpt. New York: Dover, 1972. Musical score. 49 pp. "A brief list of folk song publications ... has been omitted" from the Dover reprint. Folk songs collected and edited by Chase. Also listed as a 1938 book, 52 pp. in WorldCat.
Readings by Poets Louise McNeill Pease, Jim Wayne Miller and Folklorist Richard Chase. 90 min. 2 cassette tapes. Morris Harvey College, Charleston, WV, 1970-1979? (citation from WorldCat).
Richard Chase Collection. Archives of Appalachia. East Tennessee University. Videotape. "The tape consists of an Omni Special Edition program hosted by Terry Hickson, with Richard Chase as guest, November 3, 1983." Chase told one full tale (Sody Sally-Raytus). He discussed Jack tales, the character of Jack as a trickster (with details from Jack and the Doctor's Girl), the relationship between the ballad "Lord Randall" and the comic ballad "Billy Boy," and the long history of the song "The Joys of Mary." He answered questions on the art of storytelling and collecting folklore in his past experience and in 1983 (viewed at ETSU 10/9/07).
Richard Chase, Storyteller. Ojai, CA: Blue Heron Films and Tapes, 1977. 2 videocassettes. 70 min.. Pt. 1. "Sody Sallyraytus," Wicked John and the Devil"; Pt. 2. "Jack in the Giant's New Ground," "Old Roaney."
Williams, Michael "Badhair." Tell Me a Story. Vol. 5. Videocassette. Irwindale, CA: Barr Entertainment, 1986. 30 minutes. A professional North Carolina storyteller who does great character voices tells stories to a small group of children. Includes "Muts Mag" and "Old One-Eye" from Chase's Grandfather Tales, and a short song, "Turkey in the Straw." Cartoon-like drawings illustrating the plot are shown occasionally during the storytelling. Also released by Butterside Studios as a cassette tape, 1986.
"A Year of Song." Pine Mountain Calendar. Eds. Richard Chase and Dorothy Nace. Pine Mountain, Harlan County, KY: Pine Mountain Settlement School, 1952. With twelve folk songs from the southern highlands. Musical Score 28 pp. With sketches by Mary Rodgers.
See also AppLit's Bibliography of Appalachian Folktales in Films, Dramatic Adaptations, and Storytelling.
Buchanan, Annabel Morris. "Traditional Dances Lure Virginians Back." Richmond [VA] Times-Dispatch 13 Dec. 1936: 2, 10. Describes Chase teaching Morris dances in Richmond (cited in Whisnant book).
"Chase, Richard." Contemporary Authors Online. Entry Updated: 04/08/2002. Detroit: Gale Research, 2002. Accessed online through Academic Index and Gale Net 5/03. On paper Chase appears in Vols. 61-64, 1976, and Vol. 125, 1989.
"Chase, Richard." More Junior Authors. New York, H. W. Wilson, 1963. pp. 44-45. Photo and autobiographical essay (written while living near Beech Mountain) with overview of Chase's early life, anecdotes about how he became acquainted with Appalachian traditions and Jack tales, highlights of his work, and his "life ambition" to compile "the finest of all traditional songs in the English language, from all possible sources and from all ages, 'for living use' in schools, colleges, churches, communities." He says a neighbor at his family's summer cottage, Miss Betty, told him tales from Wagner's operas when he was a child.
"Chase, Richard." The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. Ed. Jack Zipes. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000. Chase entry by Alison Lurie.
"Chase, Richard." Something about the Author: Facts and Pictures about Authors and Illustrators of Books for Young People. Vol. 56. Ed. Anner Commire. Detroit: Gale Research, 1989. Obituary notice. Chase is also in Vol. 64, 1991.
"Chase, Richard." Virginia Authors Past and Present. Ed. Welford Dunaway Taylor. Virginia Association of Teachers of English, 1972. p. 28.
"Chase, Richard." Who's Who in America. Wilmette, IL: Marquis Who's Who. 38th ed., 1974-1975. 39th ed, 1976-1977. 40th ed., 1978-1979. 41st ed., 1980-1981.
Darg, Christine. “Virginia’s ‘Beautiful People.’” Richmond [VA] Times-Dispatch 25 Sept. 1972. Includes description of Chase at governor's dinner honoring 35 distinguished people of Virginia, with full-length photo of Chase in formal dress with cape and walking stick.
Haase, Donald, ed. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales. 3 vols. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2008. See entries "Beech Mountain Jack Tale" by Thomas McGowan; "Davenport, Tom (1939–) by Tina L. Hanlon; "Jack Tales" and North American Tales" by William Bernard McCarthy; and "Spinning" by D. L. Ashliman (reference to "Sam and Sooky" in Grandfather Tales as an example of the tale type The Lazy Spinning Woman).
Hanlon, Tina L. "Chase, Richard" and "Jack Tales." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Ed. Jack Zipes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. (Reprint in MyWire accessed 12/6/09)
Hanlon, Tina L. "Chase, Richard Thomas." Dictionary of Virginia Biography, vol. 3. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2006. pp. 184-86.
Perdue, Charles L., Jr. "Chase, Richard." Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Ed. Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell. Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 2006. pp. 852-53.
Perdue, Charles L., Jr. "Chase, Richard (1904-1988)." American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. Ed. Jan Harold Brunvand. New York: Garland, 1996. pp. 135-36.
Phinney, Margaret Yatsevitch. "Chase, Richard." The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Eds. Bernice E. Cullinan and Diane G. Person. New York: Continuum, 2001. pp. 161-62.
Riesenberg, Tom. “Richard Chase Enthralls Children with Songs, Stories.” The Mountain Eagle 28 Oct. 1976 (no page no. on copy from ASU archives, probably newspaper from Whitesburg, KY). Describes Chase telling "Sody Sally-Raytus" to third graders at Letcher Elementary, with photo. Toting "blue sack filled with instruments and puzzles," Chase was "eccentric, colorful—and effective. . . Rip Van Winkle-ish," acting out the tales and greeting children. Discusses Chase's plans for moving back to Appalachia after 12 years in California.
“Richard Chase Dies at Age 83 in Alabama.” Richmond [VA] Times-Dispatch 4 Feb. 1988: 10.
Richards, Bill. "Walking Catfish & Other Whoppers: The Walking Catfish and Other Whoppers From Tennessee." The Washington Post 10 Oct. 1977, Final Edition: Style C1. Full text accessed through Lexis-Nexis 5/7/03. About the fifth Annual National Storytelling Festival at Jonesborough, TN and storytellers Doc McConnell, Kathryn Windham, Jackie Torrence, and 73-year-old Richard Chase. Includes comments on Jack Tales and African American tales.
Silvey, Anita, ed. Children's Books and their Creators. Boston: Houghton, 1995.
"Stephen Gordon Produces Video on Appalachian Oral Tradition for 2005 National History Day Project." Three articles reprinted in AppLit. Rex Stephenson comments on Richard Chase's folktales in Gordon's award-winning video "Telling Tales: The Appalachian Oral Tradition."
Stone, Nancy. "'Jack Tales:' Nervous Ferrum Actors Face Folklore Collector." Martinsville Bulletin [VA] 13 Oct. 1976: 1, 8. Article on Richard Chase's visit to Ferrum College as consultant to Jack Tale Players, with two photos.
Thompson, Roy. "Richard Chase Tales Calm the Fidgety." Winston-Salem [NC] Journal 3 June 1982. Description of Chase, "the grand old man of Tar Heel folklore," casting a magic spell on listeners from his wheelchair at the fiddlers' annual event at Harper Van Hoy's Fiddlers' Grove in Union Grove. When telling tales, "He acts them out. He's a one-man, all-star cast. He's a man. He's a woman. He's a bear. He's whatever he's of a mind to be."
Valentine, Ross. "Warm Hearts on a Winter's Night." Richmond [VA] Times-Dispatch 14 Jan. 1954 (no page no. on my copy from ASU archives). Describes Chase, of Beech Creek, NC, as a "kind of magician," enchanting all ages. Says "the telling of tales is a great art. . . because of its artlessness." And it's becoming "a lost art" except for "undaunted restoration pioneers like Chase and John Powell." Anglo-Saxon folkways and memories that go back to "the Germanic forbears of Saxon England" are worth preserving.
Vincent, N. Michelle. "Father and 14-Year-Old Son Interview Professors for National History Day Project." Originally published in The Iron Blade, Ferrum College, VA, 21 Feb. 2005. Article on award-winning video by Stephen Gordon includes discussion of Chase and his influence.
Ward, Martha, et al. Authors of Books for Young People. 3rd ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
Whitener, Rogers. "A Ride with Marshall Ward." Oct. 24, 1979. Reprinted in "Selections from 'Folk-Ways and Folk-Speech.'" North Carolina Folklore Journal, vol. 29 (Spring-Summer 1981): pp. 76-78. Special issue. Foreword by Thomas McGowan on authentic folklore in Whitener's newspaper columns reprinted here. Whitener summarizes what Ward (in his 70s) told him about his 65 years of telling Jack tales, saying they probably came from Germany or Holland through England and are related to the Grimm Brothers stories. Ward never tired of telling them, especially to children. His father had told tales until everyone fell asleep but Marshall, who asked for more. His father "had been similarly entranced by his great-great uncle, Counce Harmon, who passed on an extensive repertoire of stories." Ward listed 25 Jack tales he told regularly, varying them with the audience and seasons (list not in this article). He gave Richard Chase credit for preserving the tales and encouraging him to continue telling them. When Chase went to Appalachian State Teachers College in 1935 looking for mountain ballads, Marshall went up to him after his talk and said, "Mr. Chase, I don't know any old ballads and old songs like you were talking about, but I do know a lot of old stories. If you are interested and can get me some children to tell them to, I'll do some of them for you" (Whitener quoting Ward, p. 77). Whitener comments on Chase's 1943 publication of Ward's tales, "The tales are delightful when read; they are absolutely spellbinding from the mouth of a master story-teller. Marshall Ward is such a teller" (p. 78).
Arbuthnot, May Hill. Children and Books. 1st ed. Chicago: Scott, Foresman, 1947. 4th through 9th editions revised by Zena Sutherland. 8th ed. published New York: Harper Collins. 9th ed. New York: Longmans, 1997. Unfortunately, Sutherland's 9th ed. refers to Chase's language as "ungrammatical," but it calls him "a gifted storyteller" and identifies The Jack Tales and Grandfather Tales as "the most amusing and significant collections" of European tales recast in America (p. 191). Janice Del Negro, in "A Change of Storyteller: Folktales in Children and Books, from Arbuthnot to Sutherland" (Library Trends, vol. 47, Winter 1999: pp 579ff) analyzes this very influential textbook's treatment of folktales. Arbuthnot's section "Native Variants of European Tales" focuses primarily on Chase's tales through all 9 editions. In the 3rd ed., 1964, the section "Three Storytellers With Contrasting Styles" is expanded to four (and then omitted from the 4th ed.), adding Arbuthnot's high praise for Chase's "masculine performance" that no woman can equal. Full text of Del Negro article accessed through Academic Index ASAP 1/25/03. Chase used copies of Arbuthnot's paragraphs praising him as storyteller on his promotional flyers (see examples in ASU archives).
Dorson, Richard M. "The Shaping of Folklore Traditions in the United States." Folklore, vol. 78, No. 3. (Autumn 1967), pp. 161-183. Available online through library services such as JSTOR.
Ellis, Bill. "The Gentry-Long Tradition and Roots of Revivalism: Maud Gentry Long." Essay in McCarthy book (see below), pp. 93-106, discusses Chase's influence on Maud Gentry Long and the versions of her mother's tales that she told..
Ellis, Bill. "Why is a Lucky Rabbit's Foot Lucky? Body Parts as Fetishes." Journal of Folklore Research, vol. 39 (Jan-April 2002): 51ff (36 pp.). Available online through library services such as Academic Index ASAP. Includes discussion of Jack tales by Maud Long, Richard Chase, and others, in which paws and hands are cut off, such as "Jack and the Sop Doll." Ellis argues that the rabbit's foot superstition links to a complex body of Anglo and African American folk beliefs related to social power struggles. "Possessing a fetish that embodies the essence of a dangerous Other—whether trickster, badman, or witch—and using it for one's own purposes effectively neutralizes the threat represented by that Other."
Gilstrap, Robert L. and Doris Evens. "Folktales in the Middle Grades." Childhood Education vol. 73 (Fall 1996): 23ff. Available online through library services such as Academic Index ASAP. Discusses the value of using personal folktales; local, state and regional folktales; and national and international folktales in the middle school curriculum. Gives lists of favorite folktale collections, including Richard Chase's Jack Tales.
Halpert, Herbert. "Folktales in Children's Books: Some Notes and Reviews." Midwest Folklore, vol. 2, no. 1 (Spring 1952): 59-71. Surveys children's folktale collections as items of interest to folklorists, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses and suggesting criteria for evaluation. Discusses the importance of authenticity and scholarship, pointing out the work of Richard Chase and Harold Courlander as outstanding examples. (notes by Linnea Hendrickson)
Hanlon, Tina L. "The Jack Tales in Appalachia." "On Writers and Writing": Papers Presented at the Virginia Humanities Conference, March 28-30, 1996. Charlottesville: Univ. of VA, 1996.
Tina L "Strong Women in Appalachian Folktale Dramatizations by R.
Rex Stephenson." Full text in AppLit.
Hanlon, Tina L "Strong Women in Appalachian Folktales." The Lion & the Unicorn, vol. 24 (April 2000): 225-46. Earlier version in Proceedings of the Virginia Humanities Conference, April 1994. Christopher Newport U, 1994. Full text available online through library services such as Project Muse.
Tina L. "Vital Words and Actions in the Works of May Justus and Richard
Chase." Paper presented at
Appalachian Studies Association Conference, Radford University, Radford, VA,
Mar. 18, 2005.
Hanlon, Tina L. and Lana Whited. "Ferrum Performers Keep Jack Tales Alive." ALCA-Lines: Journal of the Assembly on the Literature and Culture of Appalachia, vol. V (1997): 20-23. Full text reprinted in AppLit.
Harvey, Todd. "Jack Tales and Their Tellers in the Archive of Folk Culture." Folklife Center News (Library of Congress) 25, No. 4 (Fall 2003): 7-10. Click on the pdf. version of this article to see a photo of Chase at the National Folk Festival in 1944. Article includes reference to The Richard Chase Duplication Project, AFS 18,872-18,873. Archive of Folk Culture, Library of Congress. Other articles in this newsletter refer to Appalachian storytelling also.
Herrin, Roberta. "The Culture and the Classroom." Appalachian Journal, vol. 29 (Summer 2002): 425-27. In this short article, part of a forum on teaching Appalachian studies by excellent teacher-scholars, Herrin discusses hearing Richard Chase's Jack tales read at school in 3rd grade and learning later to appreciate folklore archetypes, not stereotypes, in tricksters such as Jack and Sut Luvingood.
Idom, Sylvia. "Booksearch: Folklore and Oral History." The English Journal, vol. 78, No. 8. (Dec. 1989), p. 80. Short article recommending Chase's American Folk Tales and Songs for teaching high school folklore course. Available online through library services such as JSTOR.
Lindahl, Carl. "Introduction: Representing and Recovering the British- and Irish-American Märchen." Journal of Folklore Research (Jan.-Aug. 2001): pp. 7+. Full text of critical essay accessed through Academic Index ASAP 1/27/04. Includes picture of a brochure illustrating Chase's self-promotion in the 1980s. "This brief history of North American Märchen studies identifies some reasons for the academy's neglect of the genre, outlines the careers of the two early collectors (Vance Randolph and Leonard Roberts) most responsible for documenting oral Märchen traditions, and weighs the enormous influence of Richard Chase and his book The Jack Tales on both the academic community and the public at large. The essay also traces the efforts of Herbert Halpert and others to advance British- and Irish-American Märchen studies. It concludes by assessing important recent Märchen scholarship (as exemplified in books by William B. McCarthy, Charles L. Perdue Jr., and Herbert Halpert and J. D. A. Widdowson) and by describing the research of Perdue, Martin Lovelace, and Carl Lindahl included in this volume" (from first page of article).
Lindahl, Carl. "Jack: The Name, the Tales, the American Traditions." In McCarthy book (see below), pp. xii-xxxiv. Discusses Chase's influence on Maud Gentry Long and the versions of her mother's tales that she told.
Lindahl, Carl. "Sounding a Shy Tradition: Oral and Written Styles of American Mountain Märchen." Journal of Folklore Research (Jan-Aug. 2001): pp 68ff. Full text accessed through Academic Index ASAP 5/8/03. Examines collections of Appalachian and Ozark tales by Richard Chase, Leonard Roberts, and Vance Randolph in relation to their oral informants, finding that generalizations made by literary scholars do not accurately represent the oral styles of mountain tales. Calls The Jack Tales "easily the most popular collection of American folktales ever compiled." Closely contrasts attitudes about Jack and methods of Chase and Sam Harmon of Hicks-Harmon oral tradition, as well as comparing Chase to the Grimm Brothers. Some of Harmon's tales were recorded before Chase's books and reveal a different view of Jack. Includes close analysis of Sam Harmon's "Stiff Dick Killed Seven at a Lick." Leonard Roberts, although less famous than Chase, "has left the nation's largest collection of recorded Märchen to Berea College (Roberts 1949-1980). Thus, what I present here represents the most faithful written renderings of oral style to be found among the major collections of mountain Märchen."
Lindahl, Carl. "A Tale of Verbal Economy: 'Stiff Dick.'" Journal of Folklore Research (Jan.-Aug. 2001): pp. 1+. Critical essay with text of the tale "Stiff Dick," told by Harmon near Maryville, Tennessee, April 27, 1939. "The tale was recorded by Herbert Halpert for the Archive of American Folk Song and is currently housed in the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (recordings AFS 2924B, 2925A)." Lindahl observes that "these tales represent the earliest sound recordings of America's most celebrated Märchen-telling family: the Hicks-Harmon family, whose members include Jane Gentry, Maud Long, and Ray Hicks. . . . the same extended family that provided Richard Chase with many of the stories that appear in Chase's The Jack Tales (1943). Lindahl compares Harmon's "efficient" performance with Chase's longer published tale, "Jack and the Varmints," which was based on four versions collected from the Hicks-Harmon family. Full text accessed 1/14/04 through library database Expanded Academic Index ASAP.
McCarthy, William Bernard. Jack in Two Worlds: Contemporary North American Tales & Their Tellers. Chapel Hill: Univ. of NC Press, 1994. Contains tales edited by McCarthy, Cheryl Oxford, and Joseph Daniel Sobol, as well as discussions by folklore experts Carl Lindahl, Bill Ellis, Joseph Daniel Sobol, and others. Part I, "The Hicks-Harmon (Beech Mountain) Jack Tale Tradition," gives background and tales from Ray Hicks, Frank Proffitt, Jr., Marshall Ward, Maud Gentry Long, and W. F. H. Nicolaisen. Part 2, "Jack in the Storytelling Revival," includes Leonard Roberts, Donald Davis, Bonely Lugg Kyofski (PA), and Stewart Cameron (Toronto). Discusses Jack Tales before and after publication by Chase, tellers associated with Chase and others far away from Beech Mountain tradition. Lindahl's Introduction discusses ways in which Chase used some motifs from Old World and his Jack tales are different from others in America. American scholars cut Jack off from his ancestors, accepted Chase's Jack at face value, and isolated Jack semiotically. Oxford's essay on Marshall Ward explains history and significance of his collaboration with Chase, stressing his pride in giving the Jack Tales a wider audience.
McGrorty, Michael. "About a Book." California Libraries July 2004. Reprinted in AppLit at this link. Remiscences of Chase's Jack Tales. See also followup article by Schuckett, below.
Meigs, Cornelia, et al. A Critical History of Children's Literature. New York: Macmillan, 1953. p. 458.
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.
Mikkelsen, Nina. "Strange Pilgrimages: Cinderella Was a Trickster—And Other Unorthodoxies of American and African-American Heroic Folk Figures." A Necessary Fantasy? The Heroic in Children's Popular Culture. Children's Literature and Culture Series. Eds. Dudley Jones and Tony Watkins. New York: Garland, 2000. pp. 21-50. Compares several of Chase's tales with European variants to show special features of American tales. "Three cultural symbols" of American tales are "the emergent adolescent, . . . the trickster using initiative to gain his ends, and the road as passage to opportunity." Chase's "Ashpet" and Virginia Hamilton's tales such as "Catskinella" (in Her Stories) show that female tricksters occur in Appalachian and African American tales more than has been previously recognized and they are more self-reliant than European Cinderella characters. Connections with Zora Neale Hurston's folklore from Florida are also made, especially in relation to "Wicked John and the Devil." The essay argues that folktale traditions contain more interesting heroes than current popular culture attractions such as Disney World.
Olson, Ted. Blue Ridge Folklife. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998.
Painter, Helen W. "Richard Chase: Mountain Folklorist and Storyteller." Elementary Education 40 (November 1963): 677-86. Reports on Chase's folktales, especially the Jack tales (citation from Linnea Hendrickson).
Perdue, Charles L., Jr. "Is Old Jack Really Richard Chase?" Journal of Folklore Research, vol. 38 (2001): pp. 111-38. Analyzes Chase's transmission of oral tales he collected and the extent to which his versions reflect his own character. Abstract of article at this link. This is in a Special Double Issue: Perspectives on the Jack Tales and Other North American Märchen. Full text accessed through InfoTrac Web 5/8/03.
Perdue, Charles L., Jr. Outwitting the Devil: Jack Tales from Wise County Virginia. Santa Fe, NM: Ancient City, 1987. The essay "Old Jack and the New Deal: The Virginia Writers' Project and Jack Tale Collecting in Wise County, Virginia" gives an overview of Chase's life and his collaboration with James Taylor Adams of Wise County, and critiques his methods of combining and editing tales he collected.
Perdue, Charles L., Jr. "Two Transcriptions of 'Jack and the Bull,' by Polly Johnson." Journal of Folklore Research, Jan-August 2001: pp. 99ff. Critical essay comparing transcriptions of the same tale from the same informant, made by Richard Chase and James Taylor Adams in the 1940s. Full text accessed through Academic Index 5/9/03.
Pica, Tony. Tradition Will Never Die. One-man show on Richard Chase, written and performed by Ferrum College drama senior Tony Pica. Includes a retelling of "Jack and the Robbers," and a depiction of Marshall Ward as an off-stage character introducing Chase to the Jack Tales. Directed by R. Rex Stephenson. Feb. 2003.
Renner, Craig J. "America's Jack: The Trickster Hero of Our Shy Tradition." The World & I: The Magazine for Lifelong Learning Sept. 1998: pp. 224-31. Contains brief history of Jack tales in Europe and America, citing mainly Lindahl's and Perdue's critiques of Chase. The Jack Tales "has gone on to sell over a million copies and has done a great deal to increase public awareness of the tales," in spite of controversy over Chase's methods and his "demonstrative style." Includes two pictures of Ferrum College Jack Tale Players. Full text accessed through Academic Index Expanded ASAP 1/25/03.
School Library Journal June/July, 1988. Obituary.
Schuckett, Sandy. “Regarding Richard Chase: Two Memorable Meetings.” California Libraries August 2004. http://www.cla-net.org/events/newsletter/aug04_RichardChase.php. Reprinted in AppLit at this link.
Stadter, Philip (U of NC, Chapel Hill). "Herodotus and the North Carolina Oral Narrative Tradition." Histos, vol. 1 (1997). Detailed scholarly article in an electronic journal of ancient historiography, comparing oral storytelling of Herodotus and Beech Mountain Hicks-Harmon family. Contains full transcript of "Jack and the Three Steers" from recording Ray Hicks Telling Four Traditional "Jack Tales." Comments by John Marincola, includes comparison of Jack with Odysseus. Contains a few references to Chase but not as much as in Sobol's "Whistlin'" article below.
Sobol, Joseph Daniel. The Storytellers' Journey: An American Revival. Champaign: Univ. of IL Press, 1999. 210 pp. A comprehensive analysis of storytelling traditions and particular tales across North America, by a noted folklorist, musician, and storyteller, with a bibliography. Analyzes social and cultural influences that revived storytelling in the 1960s. Reviewed in an interesting article by Anne Lundin in Library Quarterly, vol. 70 (Jan. 2000): p. 167. Lundin notes that the role of librarians in promoting storytelling for children and adults through the twentieth century also needs to be told in much more detail.
Sobol, Joseph. "’Whistlin’ Towards the Devil’s House’: Poetic Transformations and Natural Metaphysics in an Appalachian Folktale Performance." Oral Tradition, vol. 21, no. 1 (2006). Downloadable at Oral Tradition web site. Center for Studies in Oral Tradition. Columbia, MO. With audio recordings made at Ray Hicks's home in 1985. "This study centers on a performance of one of Hicks’s signature tales, 'Wicked John and the Devil." It discusses the relationship between Chase's research and books and the Hicks-Harmon tradition of oral storytelling.
Tharpe, Dorothy Nace. “In Search of America.” 1-page article. Source info. not given on photocopy from App. State Univ. archives. Encourages teachers to explore American regions through folklore. Chase nearly thirty years ago "gave us the first definitive collection of tales from the southern mountains." Tharpe knew Chase well when she was on staff of Pine Mountain Settlement School, tells story of his hearing children sing there in first chance encounter. During the years she knew him he was still collecting, but also visiting schools and people in mountains that he collected from. "Everywhere he was greeted as an honored friend." Describes character of Jack.
Whisnant, David E. All that is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region. Chapel Hill: Univ. of NC Press, 1983. The book is about "how mostly educated, urban, middle- and upper-class, liberal 'culture workers' perceived, manipulated . . and projected the culture of mostly rural, lower-class working people in the southern mountains during the half-century after 1890" (p. xiii). These outsiders organized schools, festivals, singing and dance teams, fund-raisers and newsletters to offset the dangers they perceived as threatening mountain folk culture. Chap. 3 is called "'This Folk Work' and the 'Holy Folk': The White Top Folk Festival, 1931-39." It gives an overview of Chase's early life and career based largely on an interview June 17, 1981.
Whisnant, David E. "The White Top Folk Festival: What We Have (Have Not) Learned." Paper presented to Virginia Highlands Festival, Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Abingdon, VA, 6 Aug. 1998. H-Appalachia Web Site. Accessed online 6/1/03. Also online at http://www.unc.edu/~whisnant/whitetop.htm. Discusses the problem that festivals tend to define culture and encourage efforts to suit the tastes of organizers and supporters rather than celebrating real folk culture or promoting community awareness and unity. Describes White Top Festival "petering out" at end of 1930s when Annabel Buchanan withdrew and left it to "the unabashedly entrepreneurial Jack Tale collector Richard Chase [and others]. Local performers were crowded increasingly into the background, in favor of Chase's ersatz cultural concoctions: puppet shows, Morris dances, and Punch and Judy shows." By World War II, "the festival was dead" (p. 6). See additional notes on AppLit's Background Resources page.
Wolfenstein, Martha. "Jack and the Beanstalk: An American Version." In Childhood in Contemporary Cultures. Ed. Margaret Mead and Martha Wolfenstein. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955, pp. 243-45. Examines the way in which the tale has been transformed in the American version "Jack and the Bean Tree," as told in the mountains of North Carolina and recorded by Richard Chase. (note by Linnea Hendrickson)
Reviews of Books by Chase
Carriere, Joseph M. Rev. of The Jack Tales, by Richard Chase. Journal of American Folklore, vol. 59 (1946): 74-77.
Gardner, Emelyn E. Rev. of The Jack Tales by Richard Chase; Herbert Halpert; Berkeley Williams, Jr.
Howard, Dorothy. Rev. of Wicked John and the Devil, by Richard Chase.
Rev. of American Folk Tales and Songs. English Journal, vol. 78 (Dec. 1989): 80. Review Grade: A. See Walser archive at UNC, below, for older reviews.
Rev. of Grandfather Tales. New York Times Book Review 14 Nov. 1948 (clipping in Walser collection at UNC, listed below). "As in his earlier collection, 'The Jack Tales,' many of these had their origin across the sea, but, handed down for generations, have taken on a robust American flavor. So Robin Hood learns archery from the Indians, Cinderella (called Ashpet here) goes to a meeting instead of a ball, Hansel and Gretel tread a primeval wilderness. There is even a remarkable version of King Lear's story. There are others, too, of less familiar theme–tall tales of hunting and farming, as told in a Smoky Mountain cabin when old and young celebrate Old-Christmas Eve with traditional festivities. 'The Grandfather Tales' is a valuable book for storytellers and for readers of any age of imagination and humor."
Roberts, Warren E. Rev. of American Folk Tales and Songs and Other Examples of English-American Tradition as Preserved in the Appalachian Mountains and Elsewhere in the United States by Richard Chase. The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 71, no. 280 (Apr.-Jun. 1958): pp. 177-178. Available online through library services such as JSTOR. Recommends the book for classroom use and "interesting reading," although its notes are of uneven quality and many of the folktales "are extensively rewritten."
On AppLit's Archives page, see notes under Berea College Sound Archives; The Blue Ridge Institute and Museum at Ferrum College; Richard Chase Collection, Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee University.
American Folk Tales and Songs. 1955 manuscripts. Archives of W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University. "Materials include various versions and parts of the manuscript for American Folk Tales and Songs. Much of the material collected came from the Ward family of Beech Mountain, N.C." (WorldCat abstract).
Blakemore, John A. Papers, 1928-1980. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Material relating to the White Top Folk Festival. Correspondents include performers Annabel Morris Buchanan (b. 1888), John Powell (1882-1963), and Richard Chase" (WorldCat abstract).
Chase file, Archive of Folk Culture, Library of Congress (cited in Whisnant book; see article below).
Harvey, Todd. "Jack Tales and Their Tellers in the Archive of Folk Culture." Folklife Center News (Library of Congress) 25, No. 4 (Fall 2003): 7-10. Click on the pdf. version of this article to see a photo of Chase at the National Folk Festival in 1944. Article includes reference to The Richard Chase Duplication Project, AFS 18,872-18,873. Archive of Folk Culture, Library of Congress.
James Taylor Adams Collection. The Blue Ridge Institute and Museum at Ferrum College, Ferrum, VA. The Adams Collection contains about13,000 pages of Adams' writings, as well as folktales, songs, and other items of folklore, collected mainly during the 1930s and 1940s for the WPA in southwest Virginia. Adams worked with Richard Chase (who collected with him in Wise County 1941-42) and many local storytellers. Notes on the collecting of tales, interviews with informants, and Chase's detailed plans for a book of Wise County folktales, which was never published, are included. Letters from Richard Chase to Adams and his family, along with other papers about Chase's work, are also included. Some tales from this collection are reprinted in AppLit's Fiction and Poems section, including "Down Come a Leg," a "haunted house" tale; "Munsmeg"; Death and the Old Woman; and "Old Guy Frye." The collection is also archived at University of Virginia's College at Wise (formerly Clinch Valley College). Perdue's book Outwitting the Devil (see below) is based on this collection.
Oxford, Cheryl Collection 1981-88. Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Inventory gives background on Oxford and "materials that Cheryl Oxford collected and produced in conjunction with her Ph.D. dissertation, 'They Call Him Lucky Jack: 3 Performance-Centered Case Studies of Storytelling in Watauga County, N.C.' The focus of this research was the stories and performance paradigms of three traditional Appalachian Jack tale storytellers from North Carolina: Ray Hicks, Stanley Hicks, and Marshall Ward. Other regional tellers of Jack tales, both traditional and revival, including ... Richard Chase, ... were also documented as part of her research. The bulk of the materials are audio and video recordings of public performances and interviews, which include storytelling. Also included are story transcripts, published articles by Cheryl Oxford, and a copy of her dissertation." Recordings of Chase telling "Gallymanders, Gallymanders," "Jack and the Robbers," "Soap, Soap, Soap," "Sody Sallyratus," "The Baby Bumblebee," "Mr. Punch and Bobo," "The Little Red Box."
Perdue, Charles L., Jr. and Nancy J. Martin-Perdue. The Archive of Folk Song Virginia Folklore Index: A Complete Listing of Field-Recorded Virginia Folklore Materials Housed in the Archive of Folk Song, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.: 1932-1977. with Indexes to Collectors, Geographic Areas, Informants, Types of Instruments Played, Songs, Tunes, Tales, Sermons, Prayers, Monologues, Testimonies, Play-Parties, etc. University of Virginia. Unpublished typescript. Contains notes on many recordings Chase made of Virginia musicians and informants, 1945-48, with unclear notes that Perdue attempted to supplement.
Richard Chase Collection. Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee University. One videotape from a TV interview with Chase taped in 1983. "The tape consists of an Omni Special Edition program hosted by Terry Hickson, with Richard Chase as guest, November 3, 1983." Chase told one full tale (Sody Sally-Raytus). He discussed Jack tales, the character of Jack as a trickster (with details from Jack and the Doctor's Girl), the relationship between the ballad "Lord Randall" and the comic ballad "Billy Boy," and the long history of the song "The Joys of Mary." He answered questions on the art of storytelling and collecting folklore in his past experience and in 1983. Chase also appears on several storytelling tapes in The Thomas G. Burton-Ambrose N. Manning Collection in this archive. In the Barbara McDermitt Collection, tape MCD-5, Hattie Presnell of the Hicks-Harmon family makes a few comments about Chase collecting her family's tales from Marshall Ward.
Richard Chase Papers, 1928-1988. Archives of W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University Libraries. "Materials include correspondence, reviews, flyers, essays, poems, and audio cassettes" (WorldCat abstract). Material from this archive I have examined:
Posters advertising his services as "master storyteller" and various flyers and pages of quotations he distributed on his work and folklore
Clippings of articles and various notices and photos about Chase's work
Correspondence, including letters of appreciation from educators, mainly letters by Chase in later life
Lecture to a 1975 class. See notes under Audio above.
Memorial service video, March 13, 1988, 2 p.m. in Unitarian Universalist Church in Huntsville (according to Richmond and Watauga Co. obituaries). Includes descriptions of Chase's work and tributes by his daughter and unidentified colleagues, including a storyteller and a teacher.
Walser, Richard Gaither. Papers, 1918-1988. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Correspondence, clippings, photographs, and other materials chiefly relating to North Carolina's literary heritage" and materials on North Carolina folklore. Authors represented include Richard Chase, Wilma Dykeman, John Ehle, Paul Green, etc. (WorldCat abstract). Contents of Richard Chase folder (no. 104) include, in part:
B/w photograph labeled June 1957, Palmer's Photo Shop, Boone, NC.
Clippings of reviews and notices of Chase's books, recordings, and programs. See also Reviews, above.
NYT Book Review notice of Grandfather Tales. 14 Nov. 1948. Reviewed with New England Bean-Pot: American Folk Stories to Read and to Tell (by M. Jagendorf, intro. by B. A. Botkin).
Newspaper column "Children's Bookshelf" by Charlotte Blount. GDN Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel 31 March 1957. Comments on the "vigorous group of children's books" from NC in the past decade or two, from the coast to Blue Ridge. Ellis Credle, Lois Lenski, Richard Chase, Ruth and Latrobe Carroll, Elizabeth Chesley Baity, Glen Rounds, Burke Davis and many others are respected all over the country. American Folk Tales and Songs sold by Signet Books, 50 cents. "Scholar and layman alike will rejoice at this distinguished treasure of old-time English-American folk lore." Chase "assembled the best in all categories.... The tales are related with the authentic gusto of a mountain granny, and written down with the proper vocabulary but without the misspellings and plentiful apostrophes that make dialect so forbidding for many." The writer marvels at the "ingenious" shape-notes method that should be in wider use. A hardback copy of higher quality should be available since "it is a book of life-long interest to a family.... Joshua Tolford's illustrations, incidentally, evoke the vigor and humor of the tales, but would be more effectively printed on better paper."
Notice of Hullabaloo from News & Observer [NC Triangle] 10 April 1949: "This delightful little book has the sort of snappy, singing, dancing games that children will enjoy and will find easy to master." Some are from NC.
"He Hasn't Aged a Bit." News & Observer [NC Triangle] 27 Nov. 1955, signed H. O'K. Notice of Uncle Remus edition with original illustrations says little children still love Uncle Remus. "Remember how silly the rabbit looked all stuck to the Tar Baby? Well, the drawing still makes him look silly and a little mad, too." "Richard Chase was a good choice for the compiler of this volume. He has lived and worked most of his life in the North Carolina mountains, collecting just such homey tales. His occasional footnotes and definitions add to the volume."
Ad for Uncle Remus, GDN 13 Nov. 1955, with photo of Chase, illustration of Brer Fox and Tar Baby, Straughan's Booksellers to the South, Greensboro. Calls Chase "the noted folklorist." Sold for all ages, $5.00.
NYT Book Review listing of books for young readers. 3 June 1956. The "selected list of books is drawn from interviews by the children's editor of The Book Review with 100 school children and teen-agers in the Greater New York area." Under Fun and Fantasy, for ages 8-12, is Chase's The Jack Tales. (with Mary Poppins, The Borrowers, Homer Price, and 2 others).
Clippings from 1963 tell of controversy in East Greensboro, NY, where Chase's Wicked John picture book was removed from the school library because of a complaint about blasphemy. Critics called the illustrations terrifying, in a book with low moral standards since the hero is too bad for hell. The grammar was considered atrocious: "Folk dialect unfit for a children learning the early stages of grammar." Defenders noted that the review in Saturday Review had praised it and said there is nothing in the book that would shock children. One article, "Author's Reaction is Smile," says Chase was amused and said this problem usually boosts sales but it's been out of print for several years. The Raleigh Times reported that the book was restored to the school library when the complaints were rejected. It had received praise from critics and children had enjoyed it for 11 years.
Paper by student
Nancy Hall for Dr. Ina Van Noppen on Richard Chase: "The Southern Mountain
People's Influence Upon His Life and Works," 1958? with sketches of Chase and
Jack. Cites article on Chase as 125-year-old hippie.
Notice of Chase as guest at 5th annual National Storytelling Festival, 1979.
Walser, Richard Gaither. Picturebook of Tar Heel Authors. Raleigh, NC: State Dept. of Archives and History, 1957. (children's book cited in VA Authors as including Chase)
Other References to look up:
The Horn Book 1948
Richmond Times-Dispatch 1 May 1949 (cited in VA Authors)
Saturday Review of Literature, praising The Jack Tales (little clipping in App. State U. archives)
Jack Tale Players Web Site. The Jack Tale Players were begun by writer/director R. Rex Stephenson in 1975, after his young daughter showed him a copy of Chase's Jack Tales. Stephenson uses the story theatre method of dramatizing folk tales. The web site contains several photos of Richard Chase visiting Ferrum College as a consultant in the 1970s.
Mutsmag. An adaptation in AppLit by R. Rex Stephenson, based primarily on an oral tale collected by Chase, illustrated by Franklin County, VA school children in 2000.
Old Handed Down Tales has picture of Ray Hicks with background on Richard Chase and Jack Tales. Web pages of Appalachian Cultural Museum, Appalachian State Univ., 2001.
Complete List of AppLit Pages on Folklore
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