Roland Goodbody Nov. 21, 2008
Bob Brundage – Well, hi again. This is Bob Brundage and today is November 21st, 2008 and today I’m talking with a gentleman up in Keene, New Hampshire at the University of New Hampshire and we’re interested to find out more about the Ralph Page/Ted Sannella branch of the library at the University. So, this gentleman is Mr. Roland Goodbody and he’s in charge of the archive there and we’ll be finding out more about it as we go along, I’m sure. So Roland, tell us a little about yourself. Were you brought up in New England?
Roland Goodbody – No, no. I grew up in… I’m English. I grew up in southern England, in Hampshire. I attended Keele University in the midlands of England and it was after graduating from there and spending a year teaching English in northern Spain I came to the United States. That was back in 1976. I came to do graduate work here at the University of New Hampshire and I’ve been here ever since at this library since 1986. And, you know, as you mentioned I’m one of the archivists and the archivist whose principal coordinator with what we call the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance.
BB – OK.
RG – But I need to correct one of the things you said in the introduction, we’re actually not in Keene, New Hampshire but in Durham, New Hampshire which is exactly the opposite side of the state. So, we’re in the east of the state.
BB – Ah, OK. Well, I’m glad you straightened that out for me. Thank you.
RG – There is a college at Keene, and it is part of the University of New Hampshire system. If anyone were to come to look for our materials they’d be quite a ways away from where we actually are located.
BB – Oh, I see. OK I think then you’re actually west of Keene.
RG – No, east we’re east of Keene. Keene is in the western part of New Hampshire. We’re on the sea coast of New Hampshire.
BB – Oh yes. OK. And the name of the town again?
RG – Durham or Dur-ham you’d probable say – D U R H A M.
BB – OK. What were your past experiences —-did you get involved with square dancing at all, anytime?
RG – No, no, I have … actually had no experience square dancing. My experiences with traditional dance, has been in this country, and in England to some extent where we don’t call them contra dances or Ceilidh or country dances. I sort of flirted with contra dance over the years, you know, I’ve been to a number of contra dances from back in the 80’s to the present and I do enjoy dancing. Back in England though when I was in college, I danced what’s called rapper sword dancing I don’t know if you know about that, I danced it for a few years. It’s a tradition that really comes out of the northeast of England in the mining communities up there around the Newcastle, Durham Area – Durham, England area. They have five dancers that dance with flexible swords in a linked chain dance. They dance various figures to … usually to jigs. So that …so that introduced me to the world of folk dance. And, over the years I’ve become more and more interested in how communities are formed around these folk traditions and customs and the dance music that goes along with them. I also have hosted for twenty years here in Durham, at the University here, a radio show featuring traditional music from well what I call the Celtic countries of England which includes … I include in that New England because a lot of the music that’s played originally came from either Ireland or England or Scotland or somewhere like that. So that’s my connection with the folk dance. And, of course working with the materials here as an archivist has deepened my understanding and knowledge working with a number of people involved in the dance community.
BB – Yes. We’ll talk about that later.
RG – OK.
BB – Can you give me a little overview of the University. I think it’s a Land Grant college, is it?
RG – Yes, it started … yes, it is a Land Grant College still. It started as an Agricultural College founded in 1866, but it’s also now a Sea and Space Grant institution. It’s sort of expanded its operations in a fairly big way. I mean, it’s got connections with NASA for the Space Grant stuff and, you know, there’s an island off of Portsmouth where a lot of the Sea Grant stuff takes place … research into underwater stuff.
BB – And you have several colleges there?
RG – Yes, there are seven, actually seven colleges. The population of students … undergraduate population is about 12,000. There’s about 2500 graduate students. The New England …what they call the New England Liberal Arts College, but it’s also a major research university. It’s become that since I’ve been here, in the 20 odd years that I’ve been here. There’s a strong focus on undergraduate oriented research. So, as I said, let me say it’s located in Durham which, to put you … to give you a clue, is sixty miles north of Boston. It’s 12 miles from the city of Portsmouth. About 100 miles south of the White Mountains and I’m quoting here from the UNH Admissions office website where they say “it’s nestled in the classic New England setting”. And it’s true. It’s a beautiful and it’s a compact … it’s got lots of woods and natural areas right in the center of campus.
BB – Right. Well would you …tell me, do you have any, I’m sure you do, idea of just when the Ralph Page Library collection got to the University?
RG – Yeah, it was back in October, 1986, shortly after Ralph died. What happened was, a standing committee of the New England folk Festival Association, NEFFA was formed. The Ralph Page Memorial Fund they called it. They bought the materials off of Ada, Ralph’s widow. She wanted this to happen obviously. They decided to do something positive with his collection. That Ralph Page Memorial Fund approached the University of New Hampshire as the site to host or to maintain the collection. Ted Sannella was actually the chairman of that Ralph Page Memorial Fund.
BB – Oh, I see.
RG – So, they sold it to us for a small amount of money. A sort of a token amount you might say.
BB – I see.
RG – And our commitment then was to house it and to maintain it and make it accessible. And actually I looked at the …knowing this was going to happen … I looked at the letter that Ted Sannella wrote back in 1986 to the University Library at the time. He …this is a quote he said, “This is exactly the sort of place that Ralph would have wanted his collection to reside. His love for the Granite State and its institutions were surpassed only by his love for dance, books and related materials”. So, what we can do is, since we’re …this university is sort of like the flagship public institution in the state, so anybody can come in and use this material. It’s not restricted to our students or faculty. Anybody can come in. It’s a good place to put it because, because of that, because it’s publicly accessible. Which is what the statement that was written for that gift agreement said it wanted it to be …the material to be available for researchers and students and others interested in research in traditional dance music and folk art.
BB – I see.
RG – And the history of it the late Marianne Taylor…. I don’t know if you knew Marianne Taylor …
BB – Oh yes, I did.
RG – …who recently passed away. She played a key role in physically bringing the material to UNH and she … I worked with her for maybe … you know, she volunteered for maybe a couple of years in the early days back in the late 80’s to organize it. Subsequently we’ve cataloged it at the Library of Congress and all that, but at the time we didn’t have the ability to do that and she organized it and made it useable. She was a great, great help in that. Tremendous inspiration because she had so much energy.
BB – Well that’s great. So, was she the one who was responsible for collecting all the materials, etc. and getting it delivered to you then?
RG – Actually picking them up I don’t know who did that. I think Marianne was the key player because she was … unlike Ted at the time lived down, as perhaps many of that committee did, lived down in Massachusetts. Marianne lived nearby here in Deerfield, and of course was good friends with Ralph and Ada and probably she … I imagine she was the one who went over and physically …or was one of the ones, was a key player in specifically picking it up and delivering it. I can’t remember … I was actually …I started here in the 1980’s, right around that time. A little bit … a couple of months before then. So I was brand new and didn’t really know what was going on. (Both laugh)
BB – I understand. Right.
RG – So I wasn’t really involved in any of the negotiations. I think actually it even wasn’t done here, it was done at a higher level. But I did then work with her in the very early days. I remember her coming here. Then, you know, she was a key figure in establishing what has become the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend here at the University every January. We’re in the 20th, 21st year I think.
BB – Right. That long, eh? Well, can you give is a little description of the amount of material that you have there? I know you must have …do you have all the copies of Northern Junket for example?
RG – Oh yeah. We have. I think we have 4 or 5 complete runs of the Northern Junket …
BB – Oh, do you really? Good.
RG – …and it’s also, that’s one of the things that we digitized so that’s actually viewable on line.
BB – Yes.
RG – And we did that actually with some money left to us by the Sannella Estate so, we recycled the money and put it to good use. We have the complete run of Ralph’s Northern Junket but, you know, we have in his manuscript collection we have a fair …a large amount of correspondence, a few of his manuscripts, scrapbooks, festival programs, dance programs. He collected sheet music and dance camp syllabi, lots of photos and even some films …old films most of which were done … looked like they were done out at the college of the Pacific in Stockton, California.
BB – Yes, I remember that.
RG – That’s in Ralph’s …and, then of course we have, I’ve forgotten, I don’t know if I can call it up right now, (computer beep in background) close to 1000 books.
BB – Is that right? Well, that’s …
RG – There are lots of recordings including (another computer beep) almost all of Ralph’s albums.
BB – Did he record on other labels than Folk Dancer?
RG – Mainly on Folk Dancer. I think there are one or two … but they are mainly Folk Dancer. We have all of those except…we’re missing I think two … the version of Hull’s Victory and Garfield’s Hornpipe I have …
BB – That was one of his early ones I think. OK. Well, that’s a nice definition. Thank you very much. Then after Ted Sannella passed away, tell us a little …I was going to ask you some of the same questions about his collection.
RG – Ted died in 1995 and shortly after that Bill Ross who is the department head here and I went up to Wiscasset, Maine to … up to Ted and Jean’s house because they lived up in Maine for five or six or seven years and brought the collection back here because Ted had left his personal dance collection to UNH I think, probably because of his connection to Ralph Page. But, primarily because of it’s … by that time its concentration of folk dance and music materials it by then had become called the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance. It didn’t just … it started with the Ralph Page Collection back in ‘86 but grew and then we got … I think as a result of having Ralph’s stuff, the Country Dance and Song Society approached us about housing their library. So, then we took that on and then it started to …by the time Ted passed away we’d had other collections …a small amount of Dudley Laufman’s, Gene Gowing’s, you know, a number of other individuals so the collection …the collections were building and we decided to put them under an umbrella of the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance. So, by the time Ted passed away he wanted his collection to be a part of that. In fact, it’s a significant part of that. I think it’s fair to say that Ralph Page, Ted Sannella and the Country Dance and Song Society collections are the cornerstone of the Library of Folk Music and Dance.
BB – Well, that’s interesting. I didn’t realize it was that extensive.
RG – Yeah. In fact, you know, back on … in that letter I was mentioning Ted had written in 1986 he said then, when signing over the Ralph Page Collection to this library “you will discover that you have what may well be the most complete collection of country dance material in the United States”. Well, then with the addition of his own collection and the CDSS and others, this is even more true. So, it’s likely, I can’t definitely say this because I don’t know everything that’s out there, but it’s quite likely that we do have by now the best collection of country dance material.
BB – Well, I’m sure it must be. Right. Well that’s very, very interesting, so, do you get much requests from people outside your student body?
RG – Well, we don’t get a large amount, no, but the requests that we
do get are usually quite involved … often require a fair bit of research labor such as recording projects for people. For instance, in the past week we’ve provided access … I assisted David Millstone while he was here in the research he did with his documentary films he did about Bob McQuillen and Dudley Laufman. There’s a recording label over near Keene, actually in the western part of the state, called Great Meadow Music (Westmoreland, New Hampshire, Ed.) and they …they hired a guy to do a film about contra dancing which was released as “Together In Time” and he came here and did that. Steve Alves his name was. He knew nothing about contra dance when he came. He was a film maker. So, that involved sitting with him and helping him understand, and introducing him to the materials that he could then read and get a better understanding of the history of what he was making a film about so he wasn’t totally clueless about it. There was a special dance done a few years back of Ted Sannella’s Triplets. So we had to document all those and make sure that we had them all so that they could do this comprehensive … they did a dance of all … at the time I think we thought there were thirty-three I think. Subsequently I’ve discovered some more. So, Ted’s collection includes all these index cards of dances that he called, many of them which he composed himself. They are an absolutely tremendous gem of a resource you know, so you can come and learn Ted’s dances. Any …oh he was very organized. He’s got the date that it was originally composed and then the date of the revision if he changed it and what he changed and everything.
BB – Well, that’s interesting. A little earlier you mentioned that someone is actually able to scan off some of the material you have on-line. Can you tell me how that works?
RG – Well, in the case of that, the Northern Junket, you currently would go through our website or the Library’s website, to the digital library and you would find it there and can view it on-line and then you can print it from there. So that’s how that works. I’m hoping, I mean I’ve only discovered this partly because of you r…knowing that you would be calling me, looked into that …I spent … mmm I don’t know, a year, a thousand hours, I mean a good part of a year, converting the Roger Knox index to the Northern Junket …
BB – Oh, did you really?
RG – …to digital format and marking it up, you know, doing the coding so that, in the format it was before … the way it is now you could go to the index, click on a dance and it would take you to the exact page…the exact dance and the exact page. You wouldn’t have to go through this finding out if it’s volume thirteen, issue number six , page …it would just take you right there. Well that seems to have been left out of the current thing. So I’m gonna have to approach our digital people and see if we can’t restore that. The whole point is to make it easy to use. So currently you go through the digital library here at UNH. So I think what we also ought to do is …there is this national … well they call it the Internet Archive. It’s a national site, if you like, where you can go and look up all the stuff that’s been contributed to them by various libraries and other institutions all over the country. A sort of central clearing house for that. Northern Junket is not in that, but I talked with Bill yesterday about …we should do that. We should send our files to them. Then anybody can go there and, you know, a central place instead of having to come to our website for it. But that would be just the Northern Junket and not for the rest of the collection.
BB – Is that part of the Library of Congress?
RG – No, no, it’s actually a stand alone. It’s called the Internet Archives and their address, web address is www.archive.org ... that’s archive without the ’s’ on the end – singular. You go there and you have a choice of looking up text stuff or other kinds of audio or something else.
BB – You say that’s the archives without the ’s’ .
RG – Right. www.archive.org .
BB – Yes. Well, that’s great. I’m, sure …
RG – I don’t think that is part of the Library of … I’m not actually sure who is …who they are … who is behind the name.
BB – Ok. Well, we should spend a minute talking about your cooperation with the Square Dance Foundation of New England and your …I think your major contact has been Jim Mayo?
RG – Yeah. Let me tell you how that started. When David Millstone was making his documentary film about Dudley Laufman he came here where he had also already been a number of times for that Bob McQuillen film and just for other projects. But then he went to one of the other places he went, he went to lots of places for that film, one was the Square Dance Foundation of New England and so really the connection between us and the Square Dance Foundation is originally David Millstone’s. It was his suggestion that we speak with each other because when he was there he learned they were worried about losing the facility in the foreseeable future and also they’re concerned that, you know, their largely older members … I mean there’s not a huge contingent of young people in their organization. So they’re worried about their legacy. So, David contacted me and he said you and they should get together …should talk about whether there’s a chance for that. So Jim and I did talk about the possibility of our becoming officially, in some official capacity, affiliated with each other working together. What we did was agree that the arrangement we have now that initially selected materials from their library would be donated to us to make them more available. But right now there are only stuff that is duplicated in both places so It’s not like we’re taking the original stuff and they don‘t have a copy. They are filling in gaps in the collection. Given the people who are involved whose collections we already had, some of the material …was already square dance related and we had quite a lot of square dance magazines …whole runs. So what the Square Dance Foundation of New England has done there is to just fill in the gaps. But there were also many other titles that we just didn’t have … books and pamphlets and stuff. So Jim is sort of the coordinator. He physically delivers the stuff here and I’ve gotten to know him over the last couple of years, and sat and chatted with him more about square dance and the history of it and how it fits into the bigger scene of the traditional dance in this country.
BB – Right.
RG – So also, recently I, a few months back, I went over to their facility which, by the way, is a lovely and beautiful building. One of the old mill buildings in Manchester, New Hampshire, right on the river there. A lovely space. I went over with our museum curator who was interested in seeing what they had for costumes. We went over there and we spent four hours or something. We had a great lunch there which Anna Dixon got together. We had a look at the place. Walked around it …were shown it and partly as a result of that, our museum curator has made a commitment to take 20 to 30 of the dresses in their collection to preserve them and also to show them because what she wants to do is an exhibit that eventually will present the history of folk dance and it’s development and how it became separate communities with common roots, the contra dance and the square dance worlds. It will give that history and will also have some visual stuff, the costumes, but also we’ll keep the costume’s cleanliness. So, little by little I think we’re working towards taking more and more of the materials but we have space considerations and, you know, we have limited ability to … we can’t devote all our time to working on it. One of the difficulties … I suppose I’m jumping to a later question here, but one of the difficulties is, this isn’t the only thing I work on. I have literary collections I work on, Civil War collections, all sorts of other material that are fairly big collections here …or group of collections in what’s called Special Collections at the UNH Library and the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance is just one part of it. But that means there’s limited time to devote to it … I can’t exclusively work on it. So what’s happening is, Jim will bring stuff over in batches and we’ll work on them getting them through the cataloging and all that.
BB – I understand, yes. So, you say you’re still …still having the Legacy Weekend?
RG – Oh yeah. That’s …well now Mari … I’m interested in seeing what happens because of Marianne … I mean she wasn’t playing quite a key role in …a central role in it lately … as she was in the early years but with her passing then …
BB – Yes.
RG – She was always …she was an ever present member of the Board and the Committee that made that happen. But yeah, they’ve already got … it’s more than planned. I think it’s a definite thing for this coming January. They’re going to focus …each year they always have a different focus and this time it’s somewhat unusual, French Canadian music …the influence of French Canadian music on the dance. So there’s a band from Quebec coming down as well as New England. It’s gotten … it will be the 22nd year coming up. I think it will continue. It’s a very popular dance in the calendar …the year’s calendar.
BB – Right. Well, this has certainly been a very interesting conversation Roland and I appreciate your taking the time to sit down and talk with me today. We’re getting down near the end of this tape but is there anything else you’d …that I’ve missed that you’d want to put on …
RG – Well, you know you alluded to future plans or aspirations and I’ll quickly address that. I think there are a number of concerns we should address here in the near future. One, this is my pet peeve, we need more staffing. Everybody would say that. But we really need to address the issue of the preservation of materials that are at risk, you know, like cassettes have to be played. Strictly speaking, you have to play a cassette in real time once a year to keep it …
BB- Ah ha.
RG – …to stop its big transfer of sticky tapes and we have thousands and thousands of them. Reel to reel tapes need converting so we need to digitize more and so, and through the digitization process you can kill two birds with one stone because you preserve it but you also have it in a format now that you can…where you can create greater access to it and, you know, in some cases put it on-line or at least some minutes of it if it’s a long audio work.
BB – Right.
RG – We got some initiatives there were part of a not as yet funded grand project …a pilot project in New England to digitize some audio materials. That’s headed up by the Maine Folklife Center, and the Vermont Folklife Center had something to do with it. (Pamela Dean, Ed.) But it was just a small step and I don’t think we can wait, especially in this economy, on federal monies to start the effort, we need to do some of it ourselves. And in many ways, the Square Dance Foundation of New England is ahead of us there. They’ve been great … I’ve been very impressed by the work they’re doing to digitize materials of their own where appropriate … they used a digital camera to do thousands of photographs and so that, If they do lose their physical space to display the stuff, they can put it on-line, it’s still there. In that case the necessity has been the child of invention. They’ve been forced to think about it because they fear that facility is going to go away. They’ve been pro-active and I think they’ve been a good model for us. My last thing, if I ruled the world, I would have the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance, have its own separate and dedicated space here … where right now it’s integrated. You have to …you have to tell me what you want and I go and retrieve it. I would like it to have a place like the Square Dance Foundation of New England or maybe what we should do is do what Maine and Vermont did and start a New Hampshire Folklife Center that people can visit and they can browse all this stuff and be in a room with all this material. And that would be … that would be the way people really want to use it. I think we would have more use of the material if people could browse for themselves instead of having to come here and be specific about what they want to see and then we retrieve it for them. I found out in the early days working on it, that that’s the way people use it. They just love just seeing what you’ve got.
BB – Right. Well, I’m sure you’re right and I certainly hope that comes to pass some day.
RG – It’s going to have to actually to properly preserve it.
(Tape stops abruptly – End of Side A)
BB – …stopped unexpectedly and there are just a few more questions we wanted to discuss. You were talking Roland so would you continue with what you were talking about.
RG – I think I was talking about the desirability of a dedicated space because I found in my experience working with … you know, people who are interested in it … whether they are serious researchers or people like David Millstone or authors of books who come and use the material, or they’re just young students here who are … or young contra dancers outside the university who want to find out more or are intrigued by what the Ralph Page Collection is. They’ve heard about this bloke Ralph Page and want to find out more about him. The way that everybody really wants to use it is to be able to be in a room it all and browse it … one room or more … but not to really have too be specific about what it is they want to look at and come with a call number that we then retrieve. So I was talking about the desirability of creating such a space but, of course, money is always the issue and space is always something you have to fight over. So, I mean, we’re dong the best we can given the circumstances we’ve got and that’s why I say digitizing the material is an important way to go because it helps preserve stuff but it also creates a different method of accessibility for people. The more we can get eventually digitalized the more we can be …our collection can be seen from … people in remote locations, you know, people as far away as Australia can look at it.
BB – Right. Well…
RG – You asked me about … earlier about what can be scanned and another question about what our policy is on web page requests.
BB – Yes.
RG – I just want to get to that because basically what we do …we do accept requests of course and we do fulfill them as best we can. But we do them on a case by case basis and there’s a reason for that because it depends entirely on what the items being asked for, or what the work involved is … if there are copyright restrictions that apply we have to honor those. Also, of course, the condition of the item. We can’t photocopy or scan everything if doing so destroys it. So, we handle it on a case by case basis and, as I said, it depends on how much work is involved … we’re a limited staff. Although, by making things available on the web site at least tempting people, you know, you say … you let them know that you have the material and they can’t actually see it yet and so then they ask you if they can see it. Sometimes getting that to them is very time consuming and we’re not really in the business of doing people’s research for them. So, you know, we deal with it as best we can. We charge for the cost of duplication, and then a small amount for labor but we’re constantly reviewing our policies and charges. We do … a lot of things that can be scanned and don’t take a whole lot of time. No great deal of expense of time and effort, so we do them.
BB – OK. well that’s great. I’m glad you added that. Well, I know the Foundation of New England is …they’re making mp3’s and CD’s of all these interviews that I’ve done. I’ve done about 125 or so.
RG – I know. I was actually on the website earlier and noticing them and realizing that this is where this is going to end up. See, that’s where they’re ahead of us.
BB – Yeah, well it probably won’t be long before another process …
RG – I’ll be right along with the G’s won’t I? (Both laugh)
BB – Well, to kind of end on a happy note, I understand there’s quite a … competition between the University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine where I graduated, in football.
RG – Oh, not so much in football, hockey’s the big thing.
BB – Well, I just had a notation from an alumnus friend of mine saying that some conference is up in the air because the University of New Hampshire and the Black Bears of Maine are going to be competing. Maybe that’s tomorrow, I don’t know.
RG – Yeah, football, it probably is, yeah.
BB – Yes well, I’ll root for the Black Bears. (Bob laughs)
- Yeah, well in football we’re not bad but in hockey of course we’re not bad but largely over the last number of years when it comes to really important games, you know, conference games or whatever, championship games, Maine usually pulls it out.
BB – Well, that’s great.
RG – Breaks our heart.
BB – OK. Well, unless you can think of anything else you’d like to add to this conversation …
RG – Not really. I am a little bit interested in how you ended up coming to Maine. You’re not from New England, are you?
BB – Yes.
RG – You are?
BB – Well, originally I lived in Danbury, Connecticut actually. So, way back in the early 50’s I was actually on the Board of Directors of the New England Folk Festival Association.
RG – Oh, you were?
BB – At that time I was working at the University of Massachusetts …
RG – At Amherst?
BB – …yes, in Amherst and…
RG – I went there for a year you know.
BB – …and I was there about three years before I left the University and moved back to my home farm in Connecticut to work with my father and that was just the time that Modern Western square dancing was coming into it’s fore … own force and I got involved in that and I spent my career working in that area. That was when the Square Dance Foundation of New England came about as part of this Modern Western square dancing and it really came to be quite an industry actually. But I always had my roots back in New England and I still subscribe to the various online discussion groups, etc. and so my interest has never particularly waned it was just out done by the Modern Western. It’s been a great journey as a matter of fact. So, I want to thank you so much Roland. You brought up some very interesting points and you’ve enlightened us about a lot of things that I didn’t know about and I’m sure other people didn’t know about too. So, thank you very much for your cooperation and if I ever …
RG – It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
BB- …and If I ever get back to New England I’ll try to get around to see the University if New Hampshire.
RG – Please do. Yeah. Don’t go to Keene though. It’ll be closer to where you went to school, it’s on the same coast. Well, I see your name and your brother Al’s all the time in the material. I knew who you were when you contacted me.
BB – Well, that’s great. Well, thank you again Roland and we’ll call this a day and I’ll probably be in touch with you by email to ask you about any corrections or spellings, etc. that I might encounter when I do the transcription. So, thank you very much and we’ll call it a day. So, goodbye .
RG – Bye
BB – Bye, bye.
(End of interview with Roland Goodbody)