Archives Collection

HALEY, JAMES EDWARD (ED) AND FAMILY                                     94-085



Physical description:

            .75 l.f. (copies) including

                 8 audio tapes ( TTA-187A/H)

                 1 volume (copy)

                 1 binder (copy)


Ca. 1946-1947



            These materials may be used only with the permission of the donor.



            These materials were loaned for copying by John Hartford of Madison Tennessee with the permission of the Haley family. Some of these discs were copied earlier by the Library of Congress and appear on the Rounder album Ed Haley, Parkersburg Landing (Rounder 1010)


Biographical Sketch:

            James Edward (Ed) Haley was born on Hart’s Creek, Logan county, West Virginia, in 1885, the son of Andrew Jackson and Emma (Mullins) Haley. He lost his vision in early childhood and received no formal education. As an adult supported himself by his fiddle playing in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

            In 1914 he married (Martha) Ella of Morehead Kentucky, who was also blind, and moved to Ashland Kentucky. The Haleys, who had five children, divorced in 1935 but continued to play together. Ed Haley died in 1951, Ella in 1954.


Scope and Content:

            This collection consists of a photocopied volume of John Hartford’s research notes concerning the Haley family and regional history and 8 reel to reel analog audio tapes of instantaneous discs made by West Virginia fiddler J.E. (Ed) Haley of West Virginia and his family, ca. 1946-1947.

            The volume includes detailed information on the family, including copies of photographs; song texts, sometimes with explanatory notes including an extensive discussion of “Lincoln Country Crew,” a murder ballad; Hartford’s transcriptions of Haley’s tunes and information on those and other tunes in Haley’s repertoire; drawings of Haley’s fiddle positions based on information from his son Lawrence and other information on his playing technique; and scattered information on other fiddlers, especially “Uncle Jack” McElwain from whom Haley learned a number of tunes. Among the sources of this information were conversations between Hartford and family members and newspapers and magazine articles.

The primary performers on these discs (which were recorded by Lawrence Haley who had learned recording techniques as a member of the Signal Corps during World War II) are Ed Haley on (fiddle) and his wife Ella (accordion and vocals); they are sometimes identified on the disc label as Mom and Pop. Other family members appearing are their daughter Monnie (guitar) and stepson Ralph.

            A binder of photocopied music titled Ed Haley and transcribed by John Hartford in 1994 was added to this collection in August 2009. The binder was donated by Mary Dean Wolfe and was originally given to Charles K. Wolfe by John Hartford. Transcriptions of Haley’s recorded fiddle tunes, titles include Yellow Barber, Bonaparte’s Retreat, Indian Squaw, Gatlettsburg, Half Past Four, Brushy Fork of John’s Creek, Ida Red, Boatman, Poplar Bluff, Old Sledge, Fire on the Mountain, Humphrey’s Jig, Brownlow’s Dream, and Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom.

Tape logs made by Center audio specialist Bruce Nemerov, which list the songs, specific performers and the instruments are available in the Center for Popular Music Reading Room.


The volume is filed by accession number with other manuscript groups. The tapes, like other audiovisual materials, are filed first by format, then by tape number in the audiovisual archives.

Related materials:

Copies of the titles of commercial sound recordings owned by the Haleys are filed with the accession record. The Center copy of the Rounder album Ed Haley, Parkersburg Landing (Rounder 1010) is filed by label and issue number with other commercial sound recordings.



Revised LPC 8/2009