Lucy McKim Garrison

Lucy McKim Garrison (October 30, 1842 - May 11, 1877), born in Philadelphia, was an American song collector and co-editor of Slave Songs of the United States, together with William Francis Allen and Charles Pickard Ware.[1][2]

Lucy McKim's grandfather was Micajah Speakman of Chester County, Pennsylvania. His home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Her father was James Miller McKim, an antislavery lecturer.[3] She traveled to the Sea Islands of South Carolina with her father in 1862 while the Civil War was still raging, serving as his secretary as he gathered information on the conditions for newly freed slaves for the Philadelphia Port Royal Relief Committee. This exposed her to the music of former slaves just after they had been freed, a time of great social change.[4] Her work in Port Royal, South Carolina constitutes the first attempt to systematically describe the characteristics of African American spirituals.[5][6] She published two songs, Poor Rosy, Poor and Roll, Jordon, Roll, they were the "earliest slave songs to be published complete with music".[3]

She married Wendell Phillips Garrison (a son of the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison) in Philadelphia on December 6, 1865, and died in West Orange, New Jersey of heart disease after a long illness culminating in paralysis. She was survived by her husband and three children. Her story is told in a biography by musicologist Samuel Charters entitled, Songs of Sorrow: Lucy McKim Garrison and 'Slave Songs of the United States' .[2]

Further readingEdit

  • Charters, Samuel. Songs of Sorrow: Lucy Mckim Garrison and Slave Songs of the United States. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2015.


  • Chase, Gilbert (2000). America's Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-00454-X.
  • Darden, Robert (1996). People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0826417523.
  • Epstein, Dena (1971). "Lucy McKim Garrison" in Notable American Women. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674627318
  • Bacon, Margaret Hope (Jan 1989): "Lucy McKim Garrison: Pioneer in Folk Music," Pennsylvania HIstory, 54:1-16.
  1. ^ Journal of Folklore Research book review
  2. ^ a b Kreitner, Richard (16 November 2015). "Songs of Revolt". The Nation: 11.
  3. ^ a b James, Edward (1971). Notable American Women. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674627318.
  4. ^ Bosman, Erwin. 2011. Roll Jordan, Roll: The Slave Song Lucy McKim taught the world. No Depression: Journal of Roots Music [1]
  5. ^ Chase, pg. 220-221
  6. ^ Darden, pg. 99