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COLLECTION Identifier: 79-M149

Papers of Mary Elizabeth Barnicle Cadle, 1915-1978


Lecture notes, tales and songs, correspondence, photographs, etc., of Mary Elizabeth Barnicle Cadle, teacher of folklore and English literature.


  • 1915-1978

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Mary Elizabeth Barnicle Cadle is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


4 linear feet (4 cartons)
This collection consists of lecture notes, term papers, folk tales, and transcriptions of folk songs from the South and of ethnic songs and customs collected by Cadle's students in New York City. Also included are family correspondence, information about Leadbelly's imprisonment, and biographical notes dictated by Aunt Molly Jackson.


Mary Elizabeth (Barnicle) Cadle, college professor and folklore expert, was born in about 1891 in Natick, Massachusetts, of Irish parents. The family moved to Providence, Rhode Island, and Cadle attended Brown University, where as a student she was a member of the suffrage movement. She received her A.M. from Bryn Mawr College in medieval English literature.

Cadle taught English and Folklore first at the University of Minnesota and later at Connecticut College, Antioch College, and New York University. In 1941 she married Tillman Cadle, a union organizer of miners. Her home in Greenwich Village was a center of the folk music revival of the 1930s and 1940s and her friends included Leadbelly, Aunt Molly Jackson, Jim Garland, Sarah Ogan, Gunning, Jean Ritchie, and Pete Seeger. From 1937 to 1949 the Cadles traveled around eastern Tennessee and Kentucky recording folk songs, love songs, bawdy ballads, and work songs. While Cadle was on the faculty of the University of Tennessee in 1949, part of her collection of 900-1000 recordings was stolen. The remaining recordings (approximately 550) are now housed in the Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University. In 1986, the Library of Congress recognized It's Just the Same Today: The Barnicle-Cadle Field Recordings from Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky, 1938-1949 as one of the best recordings in the field of folklore. Cadle died in October 1978.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 79-M149

The papers of Mary Elizabeth Barnicle Cadle were given to the Schlesinger Library in June 1979 by her husband, Tillman Cadle.


  1. Carton 1: 1-35
  2. Carton 2: 36-62
  3. Carton 3: 63-79v.
  4. Carton 4: 80v-112

Processing Information

Preliminary inventory: November 1979

By: Jane S. Knowles
Link to catalog
Cadle, Mary Elizabeth Barnicle. Papers of Mary Elizabeth Barnicle Cadle, 1915-1978: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.

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