NC Jukebox (2016-2017)
In the 1930s Duke scholar Frank Clyde Brown began recording and archiving folk music from western North Carolina. Most of those recordings were housed on wax cylinders and glass discs in the Duke Libraries. Blending technology, cultural history and music, this Bass Connections project transformed an inaccessible audio archive into a vital, publicly accessible digital archive and museum exhibition.
The project team curated an exhibition and an online playlist of the “greatest hits” of the Frank Clyde Brown collection, created metadata standards and built library infrastructure. Team members researched biographies of the singers, transcribed the songs and traced the Scotch-English history, variations and contemporary analogues of the songs. Cultural history is a complex process of selection, presentation and interpretation by multiple agents. The team focused on African American singers and songs left out of the original published collection because they didn’t fit the “correct” musical profile for the edited collection. By adding information about these worksongs, prisons and religious genres, the team filled in an important piece of cultural history.
Team members developed a data model, template and software framework for the online archive and mobile application; conducted a study of the archive’s effectiveness with diverse audiences, including heritage musicians; and explored techniques for “data mining” incomplete and fragmentary audio, visual and textual materials.
An exhibition featuring the Frank Clyde Brown collection and materials from the NC Jukebox project was on view at Duke’s Rubenstein Library in Fall 2016.
One of the project’s aims was to return the music to the North Carolina communities of origin and critically engage with the ethics of repatriation. More than 100 people attended a special NC Jukebox event at the Orchards of Altapass in western North Carolina. Three student team members gave a presentation about several singers in the Frank Brown collection.
Summer 2016 – Spring 2017
Archives Alive: The North Carolina Jukebox Project (Trudi Abel, Victoria Szabo, Winston Atkins, Meg Brown, Louise Mentjes, Laura Williams, Meghan O’Neil, Abigail Bolton, Bao Doan, Tyler Goldberger, Yunhee Kang, Adriana Lapuerta, Jon Levine, Julie Min, Jaymin Patel, Sophie Polson, Ben Stone, Jaehoon Sung)
Teaching with Archival Music: The NC Jukebox Project (presentation by Trudi Abel and Victoria Szabo, Southeast Chapter of the Music Library Association annual meeting, Durham, NC, October 21, 2016)
The Common Ground We Meet Upon: Music Collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library (exhibition featuring the Frank Clyde Brown collection and materials from the NC Jukebox project; Mary Duke Biddle Room, Rubenstein Library, Duke University; August 1–November 1, 2016)
Bass Connections Follow-on Student Research Award: Adriana Lapuerta, Computer Science
NC Jukebox special event featuring musician Terry McKinney and members of the NC Jukebox team, The Orchard at Altapass, Spruce Pine, NC, April 22, 2017
This Team in the News
See earlier related team, NC Jukebox (2015-2016). This project was selected by the Franklin Humanities Institute as a humanities-connected project. Humanities Writ Large provided additional support for this project.
- Trudi Abel, Duke Libraries & Informational Technology - Rubenstein Library
- Victoria Szabo, Arts & Sciences-Art, Art History, and Visual Studies
/graduate Team Members
Shawnee Becker, Liberal Studies-AM
Katie Eller, Liberal Studies-AM
Meghan O'Neil, English-PHD
/undergraduate Team Members
Abigail Bolton, History (AB)
Bao Doan, Economics (BS), Computer Science (BS2)
Tyler Goldberger, History (AB), Spanish (AB2)
Adriana Lapuerta, Computer Science (AB)
Jonathan Levine, Economics (BS)
Julie Min, English (AB)
Sophie Polson, Computer Science (BS)
Ben Stone, Evolutionary Anthropology (BS)
Jaehoon Sung, Biomedical Engineering (BSE), Electrical Engineering (BSE2)
/yfaculty/staff Team Members
Winston Atkins, Duke Libraries
Ian Breaden, RL-Tech Svcs
Megan Brown, Duke Libraries
Phillip MacDonald, Cus-Coll Dev
Louise Meintjes, Arts & Sciences-Music
Laura Williams, Duke Libraries
/zcommunity Team Members
The Orchard at Altapass