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John Quincy Wolf, Jr.
Folklorist John Quincy Wolf, Jr. was born in Batesville, Arkansas in 1901. The son of a banker who was also a self-taught Ozark memoirist, Wolf attended, then taught at Arkansas College (now Lyon College) before earning a Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins University. He wrote his dissertation on Wordsworth, and taught English poetry throughout his life.

Wolf spent most of his professional career teaching at Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, where he was head of the English department for decades. He began collecting Ozark folksongs in 1941, and later collected songs from Memphis blues musicians and Sacred Harp singers. He began teaching folklore classes in the 1960s.

Wolf teaching at Southwestern College As a folklorist, Wolf discovered Almeda Riddle and other Ozark folksingers from the White River area of Arkansas. Fellow folklorist Alan Lomax sought his advice on Ozark and delta blues musicians, and Wolf served as a musical consultant to the Newport Folk Festival. He also edited his father's newspaper reminiscences about growing up in the upper White River valley in the 1870's and 1880s, which were published posthumously by his widow, Bess Millen Wolf, as Life in the Leatherwoods. Wolf died in 1972, leaving behind an important collection of folksong recordings and articles.

For more about Wolf, please see John Quincy Wolf: An Appreciation and A Pioneer Ozark Folklorist: John Quincy Wolf, Jr.

The top photo is from the Lyon College Collection, and the bottom photo is a 1954 photo from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, used by permission.


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Updated July 28, 2009