Skip to main content

William L. and Gowan Merson Smith Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 500-AppMs 639

Scope and Contents

The William L. and Gowan Merson Smith Collection contain 78 open reel audiotapes and 5 audiocassettes. They include tapes of William and Gowan Smith, live and home performances of fiddle playing, compilations of recorded fiddle playing, and tapes of mass-produced television, radio, and commercial fiddle recordings. The dates covered are predominately between 1957-1976. The audio recordings have been divided into four series. Some individual tapes included material appropriate for inclusion in multiple series. In these cases, live performances were given precedence over commercial recordings, and the tape was placed in the appropriate live performance series with a reference to the additional commercially recorded material. Series 1 contains audio recordings of William and Gowen Smith playing fiddle, organ, and piano with some commercial recordings included on individual tapes, tapes 1-9. The second series contains live and home performances of fiddle playing with some commercial recordings included on individual tapes, tapes 10-58. Series 3 contains compilations of recorded fiddle and other music from friends of William and Gowen Smith, tapes 59-76. Series 4 contains mass produced commercial fiddle recordings, tapes 77-83. Series 5 contains printed documents including letters, song lists, and information about the persons recorded on the audiotapes. Preservation copies of the original recordings have been made and public use copies are available on request. [Note: Tapes 1-15 have reel-to-reel preservation masters. Tapes 1-83 have digital masters on CD. Tapes 13-18 have edited digital masters where the content has been tracked.]


  • 1957-1976 and undated


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


83.00 Sound recordings

78 open reel audiotapes; 5 audiocassettes; 1 manuscript box other_unmapped

83.00 Sound recordings

1.00 Boxes


The collection is arranged into six series. Series 1, William Gowen Smith, 1957-1976 and undated, tapes 1-9; Series 2, Performances, 1962-1976 and undated, tapes 10-58; Series 3 Compliations, 1960-1975 and undated, tapes 59-76; Series 4, Commercial, 1965-1975, tapes 77-83 and Series 5, Printed Documentation. Series 6 contains reproductions made by archives staff for preservation.

Method of Acquisition

Thomas J. Merson of Los Alamos, New Mexico, nephew of William L. Smith, donated the collection to the Archives on April 24, 2003.

Processing Information

John Fleenor, Kathy Meade, and Dusty Hibbs completed processing and the collection was opened for research in April 2004.
John Fleenor, Kathy Meade, and Dusty Hibbs
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of Appalachia Repository

PO Box 70295
344 J.L. Seehorn Jr. Rd.
Johnson City TN 37614 USA