Sam Henry’s “Songs of the People”

Sam Henry
Edited, transcribed, and annotated by Gale Huntington
Revised, with additions and indexes by Lani Herrmann
Geographical Index prepared with the aid of John Moulden


“Anyone who loves Irish song will want to have a copy of this huge and extraordinary collection and will spend many delighted hours browsing through it. And because Irish song is such an important element in American song, north and south, it’s great that the University of Georgia Press is making it available.”
—Pete Seeger

“This is obviously a very important book to all who are interested in folk songs, and especially those researching Irish songs.”
—Edith Fowke, Come-All-Ye

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The story of Ireland—its graces and shortcomings, triumphs and sorrows—is told by ballads, dirges, and humorous songs of its common people. Music is a direct and powerful expression of Irish folk culture and an aspect of Irish life beloved throughout the rest of the world.

Incredibly, the largest single gathering of Irish folk songs had been almost inaccessible because, originally newspaper based, it was available in only three libraries, in Belfast, Dublin, and Washington D.C. Sam Henry’s “Songs of the People” makes the music available to a wider audience than the collector ever imagined. Comprising nearly 690 selections, this thoroughly annotated and indexed collection is a treasure for anyone who performs, composes, studies, collects, or simply enjoys folk music. It is valuable as an outstanding record of Irish folk songs before World War II, demonstrating the historical ties between Irish and Southern folk culture and the tremendous Irish influence on American folk music.

In addition to the songs themselves and their original commentary, Sam Henry’s “Songs of the People” includes a glossary, bibliography, discography, index of titles and first lines, melodic index, index of the original sources of the songs and information about them, geographical index of sources, and three appendixes related to the original song series in the Northern Constitution.

Page count: 672 pp.
Trim size: 8.25 x 11


List price: $40.95

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Gale Huntington was a writer, teacher, historian, and musician. He is the author of Songs the Whalemen Sang and other books on New England music and history. Lani Herrmann is a freelance music and production editor. She has edited, designed, and overseen the production of several books on folk and traditional music, primarily American and Irish. John Moulden is a Northern Irish educator, folklorist, and authority on Sam Henry’s life and work. His latest work is a thesis on the popular printing of songs in Ireland for which he was awarded a PhD in 2006.