Special Collections at the Wilson Music Library: The John Hartford Collection

An overview of the special collections available for students, faculty, and researchers held by the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library.

Image credit: Forrest L. Smith, III, "John Hartford performing at Merlefest, April 2000, Wilkes County Community College," uploaded by Filberthockey, Dec. 11, 2007, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Image-John_Hartford_playing_at_Merlefest,_North_Carolina_(2000)-fls.jpg.

Brief Biography of John Hartford:

John Hartford (1937-2001) remains best known for the country-pop song "Gentle on My Mind," a major hit and theme song for Glen Campbell and later covered by hundreds of musicians. This song brought Campbell and Hartford to national prominence through appearances on television shows staring and produced by Tom and Dick Smothers. Hartford was a multi-talented old-time musician, a riverboat captain, a DJ, a satirical songwriter, and one of the founders of both progressive country music and old-time string music revivalism.

Overview of the John C. Hartford Collection:

Size and Scope of the Collection:
  • 847 titles.
  • Primarily published materials, including tune books, sheet music, music history, biography (including performers and guests), instructional books, and ephemera.
Collection Strengths:
  • Fiddle tune books and instructional books (particularly from the 19th century).
  • Ephemera from Hartford's life and career (festival advertisements, concert programs, etc.)
  • Hartford was a man of many interests, and they are reflected by the great variety of the collection. A few of the topics represented include works on architecture, Irish folktales, clog dancing, Appalachian culture, history, biography, and literature.

Accessing the Collection:

  • Items in good condition have been added to the Wilson Music Library's normal circulating collection.
  • Rare and fragile materials are kept in the library's vault. These materials can be accessed on site after consultation with the Director of the Wilson Music Library.
  • A complete list of materials from the Hartford Collection can be found in the library catalog by doing a search on the phrase "from the john c. hartford collection." Additional information about the collection can be found on the John C. Hartford Research Guide.