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Explore The Peter Kennedy Archive

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Author Profile: Patrick Egan
This Outreach member has published 17 articles.

Outreach is delighted to announce that yet another online resource of fieldwork material has been published. Located at www.peterkennedyarchive.org, this website will be of considerable interest for researchers on Outreach and indeed any scholar researching the traditional music and song of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Subtitled, "A unique collection of British and Irish traditional music and customs", this site uses digital means to represent the unique archive of collector Peter Kennedy.


Bob Copper, John Copper, Ron Copper and Jim Cooper photographed by Peter Kennedy in Rottingdean, Sussex, 1950s

On a technical level, one of the central features of the creation of this website has been the use of mapping with a timeline - users can work their way through Kennedy's notes on recordings based on a region or year. This allows us to trace his movements geographically, to "jump in" to different periods of his work to get a sense of where he was at.

An initial browse through the collection took me to the year 1952. It revealed some very exciting references to singers and musicians from the north of Ireland. Some now well known performers that stood out for the author include for example; Margaret Barry, Paddy Tunney, Francis McPeake, Seán McGuire. It is undoubted that countless hours will be spent perusing the rest!


Singer and banjo player Margaret Barry © Burns Library, Boston College

Peter Kennedy was prolific as a collector of folk music, song and customs from the 1950's right up until his death in 2006. As can be seen on this website, he documented hundreds of important musicians and singers "in the field". He also worked closely with Alan Lomax, Sean O’Boyle and Hamish Henderson. In 2008 his collection came under the care of the World and Traditional Music section of the British Library.

Andrew Pace of the British Library has been working on the collection since 2010, cataloguing thousands of tapes and photographs of these performers. 

Pace notes that, "What makes this website unique is the way it contextualises recordings and photographs of performers with Peter’s own notes about them. Whilst the British Library’s catalogue is useful as a search tool, it doesn’t reveal how a collection was formed and developed – and it doesn’t tell us very much about who created it. This new website gives us a better idea of what’s in this collection by refocusing attention on Peter as a recordist and reconstituting his material into a form that better resembles how he created it."

For the full article, please visit: https://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/sound-and-vision/2016/06/peter-kennedy-archive.html



Peter Kennedy interviewing Edgar Button.Thebburton, Suffolk, 1956 [PR0925]


Find out more about the work of the British Libary's Sound Archive and the new Save our Sounds programme online. 
Follow the British Library Sound Archive @soundarchive and the British Library's World and Traditional Music activities @BL_WorldTrad on Twitter.


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Guest Saturday, 26 November 2022