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Joseph Sargent Hall Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AppMs-0422

Scope and Contents

The Joseph Hall Collection focuses primarily on Hall’s research of language and folklore of the people living in the Great Smoky Mountains. The bulk of the papers result from Hall’s fieldwork dating from 1937-1941 and include notebooks; notes on index cards; reel-to-reel tape recorded interviews; transcripts; typed manuscripts derived from the interviews; photographs; and slides. The field recordings and related materials document the Appalachian dialect, including word meaning and usage and syntax. Also documented are folk beliefs, folk remedies, traditional tales and stories of life in the mountains, traditional music, hunting, and agricultural practices of the mountain people. Biographical sketches of Hall’s informants are also included in the collection. Much of the field research materials are preserved on microfilm.

The remaining materials include card indices compiled from the collection to be used in the creation of a dictionary of Appalachian dialect; manuscripts published by Hall based on his research; newspaper clippings and other memorabilia about Hall and the Great Smoky Mountains; correspondence; and professional literature used by Hall in his research. Finally, there are cassette sound recordings of Dr. Montgomery’s interview of Joseph Hall and of Montgomery’s discussion of Hall’s work and life.

The collection spans from 1915-2000, but predominantly spans from 1937-1977. Hall’s material on hunting dates from 1937-1965. Medicinal remedy information was collected from 1937-1973. Music material dates from 1937-1960. Copies of photographs identified with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park classification numbers were made available to Joseph Hall by the Park. The tape recordings of early field recording are copies made from acetate discs from the collections of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


  • Creation: 1915 - 2000
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1937 - 1977


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies of photographs and recordings from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park may be used in accordance with National Park Service guidelines: "As a publicly supported institution the National Park Service generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot give or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the National Park Service's collections." The Archives of Appalachia reserves the right to charge a duplication fee for fair-use copies of National Park Service materials found in the Joseph Sargent Hall Collection.


22.20 linear feet (Consists of 44 boxes, 60 cassette tapes, 14 discs, 6 films, 27 microfilm reels, 172 photographs, 146 reels, 219 slides)

Language of Materials



The collection is divided into three series: Series 1, Field Work; Series 2, Linguistic Materials; and Series 3, Career and Publications.

Method of Acquisition

In 1992, Dr. Michael Montgomery, a linguist and professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina, inherited Joseph Hall's field work and research. Dr. Montgomery donated the collection to the Archives of Appalachia on March 18, 1993. The initial donation consisted of books, field notes, tape recordings, transcripts, typescripts, and research for an Appalachian dictionary.

An addition to the collection was contributed by Helen Hall, Joseph Hall’s sister, on May 14, 1993. This material consists of newsletters, pamphlets, books, periodicals, reviews, and a photograph documenting Joseph Hall’s work on Appalachian dialects and folklore. The papers date between 1939-1991.

On February 13, 1995, Michael Montgomery donated an addition to the collection including audiotapes of interviews and music recorded by Hall from 1937-1969. Also in this material were miscellaneous videotapes; 16mm and 8mm home movies; aluminum audio discs; and 78 rpm shellac discs of music edited by John Lomax; and books and journals on Smoky Mountain lore, language, and ballads. Also, field notes, indexes, informant lists, and lore of the Great Smoky Mountains. This material dates from 1931-1988.

On January 22, 2000, Michael Montgomery, donated a fourth addition to the collection of three cassette tapes. One cassette tape is an interview with Joseph Sargent Hall on his research in the Great Smoky Mountains recorded on January 8, 1990. The other two cassette tapes are of Michael Montgomery discussing his and Joseph Hall's work; these tapes were recorded on October 13, 2000. These cassette tapes are located in Box 16.

On February 5, 2001, Michael Montgomery donated an addition to the collection of 23 microfilm rolls of Hall’s field notes, books, and lexical cards. The microfilm contains a broad range of information on Hall and his studies. The microfilm dates from 1937-1969. Another folder of material donated at this time contains field note typescripts, an incomplete index to the microfilms, and one small field notebook from May 1938.

Related Publications

Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music [CD], a collection of "34 historic songs, ballads, and instrumentals recorded in the Great Smoky Mountains by 'Song Catcher' Joseph S. Hall," is part of the Media Collection at the Archives of Appalachia.

Related Materials

In addition to this collection, other papers and recordings of Joseph Hall are held by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library.

The American Folklife Center holds the following:

  • Joseph S. Hall Great Smokies Duplication Project. AFS 13710-13715
  • Joseph S. Hall Great Smoky Mountains Original Recordings Collection. AFC 1987/035
  • Joseph Sargent Hall Interview Collection. AFC 1990/013

Processing Information

Robin Pendleton processed the Joseph Sargent Hall Collection. Processing was completed and the collection opened for research in March 2003.


Robin Pendleton
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of Appalachia Repository

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