Monday, 15 February 2010


I'm delighted to be able to announce that the Zach S. Henderson Library at Georgia Southern University, in Statesboro GA, is to acquire the papers and other material created 1998-2009 in the researching and writing of Hand Me My Travelin' Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell.

The material, to be known as the Blind Willie McTell Collection, is being acquired via the Georgia Southern University Foundation, Inc. and courtesy of a grant from the Jack N. and Addie D. Averitt Foundation. It mainly comprises:

1. 17 witnesses’ interviews recorded on minidisc
2. two further Statesboro witnesses’ interviews on CD
3. additional interviews with 4 folklorists involved in the 1961 issue of the first McTell LP and the crucial 1970s McTell research
4. typed transcripts of these interviews
5. a cassette copy of the unissued complete recording of Blind Willie McTell’s Last Session (1956)
6. two reel-to-reel tapes of McTell’s brother-in-law, Rev. Andrew Williams, interviewed 1992
7. certified copies supplied by local courts and record offices of certificates such as McTell’s marriage and death certificates, plus similar pertaining to other members of his family
8. printouts and/or computer images of the many available census pages through which my wife and I tried to hunt down Willie and his family
9. copious correspondence to and from other people
10. relevant sections of my notebooks primarily made on the ground in Georgia, including descriptions of interviewed witnesses
11. drafts of early parts of the manuscript, and material pruned out of the finished work
12. a large number of other paper and word-processor documents (in Word), e-mails etc.

It's good to know that this material is to be given a permanent home where it can be accessed by anyone who might find it useful when researching in the future.

Much of it will eventually be made available online as well as inside the library itself, though the recorded interviews, transcripts and notebook material will be accessible only to those visiting the library itself. (It seems only right that anyone with a serious research interest should go to the trouble of visiting the place where McTell himself grew up.)

I'm particularly pleased to be announcing this today, since it is the third anniversary of my completing the manuscript of the first edition of the book (the Bloomsbury hardback) - and especially happy that my papers will find their home in Statesboro: no other city could have been so appropriate a place.


Larry Blase said...

Congrats on the "Blind Willie McTell Collection" at Georgia Southern University! That's great that your research materials have a home in Georgia. I listened to your radio interview, really enjoyed it. You've got my email me if you're ever back in Atlanta and I'd love to buy you a cup of tea! Thanks again for researching/writing the book.

mike m said...

This great news. From reading your book, I can tell you accumulated a lot of rersearch and it would be a shame to not have it publically available.

I do have a question that has been lingering ever since I concluded the book. How could Ruddick McTier have survived all the horrendous battles of the Civil War as your reseach states? By your account he wasn't a ranking officer who could bring up the rear so to speak. Did any of your research reveal what his duty or position was? To have survived one bloody encounter after another, he must have been blessed, or some rank that kept him out of harms way. Just curious???