' Jean Bell Thomas Papers
1 cubic foot
Provenance: Jean Bell Thomas donated her papers to the Ohio
Historical Society in 1943 and 1949. Mary Higley and Kay
Weisman processed them in August 1979.
Property rights: The Ohio Historical Society owns the
property rights to this collection.
Copyrights: Miss Thomas has - not dedicated copyrights to the
public. Consideration of the requirements of copyright is
the responsibility of the author and publisher.
Access: Access to this collection is open under the rules
and regulations of the Ohio Historical Society.
Citation: Researchers are requested to cite collection name,
collection number, and the Ohio ~ istorical Society in all
footnote and bibliographic references.
Transfer: Approximately twenty photographs of participants in
the American Folk Song Festiva1, and Jilson Setter's trip to
England were transferred to the Audiovisual Department.
Related collections: The Jean Thomas Folk Song Collection ( A- 2)
containing 25 discs is located in the Audiovisual Department.
Biographical sketch: Jean Bell Thomas was born in Ashland,
Kentucky, in 1881. After finishing high school, she held
several jobs, including one as a secretary for a baseball
club in Columbus, Ohio. She then became a court stenographer
in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. " With her typewriter in one hand
and her briefcase in the other," she traveled to various
courts in the Kentucky mountains, earning the nickname " Traipsin'
Woman" from local residents.
While reporting a Rowan County murder case in 1911, she met
Jilson Setters, a blind fiddler whose repertoire included
many Elizabethan ballads that had been handed down from one
generation to the next. Fascinated by his tunes, she began
collecting and transcribing the ballads of the mountain people,
and writing articles and books depicting mountain life. In
1932, Thomas took Setters to England to perform for the king
OBI0 HISTORlCAL SOClETY
1982 Veirna Avenue. Columbus. Ohio 43211- 2497 p!~: 6 14,2972300 fx: 614.297.2411
www. ohiohislaiy. org
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