Captain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal

A dapper man standing near a waterfront.
[Detail] Captain Pearl R. Nye in Akron, OH.
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Captain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal captures the culture and music of the men, women, and children who worked and lived along the Ohio and Erie Canal. Nye, who was born and raised on a canal boat, never lost his love of the "Big Ditch." After the canal closed permanently in 1913, he devoted considerable time and energy to preserving its songs and stories.

This presentation contains recordings of 75 songs, sung by Nye. The recordings were made by John, Alan, and Elizabeth Lomax, and Ivan Walton between June 1937 and September 1938. Lyrics for the recorded songs have been transcribed by Library staff and are available on the Web site as are song transcriptions, photographs, and personal letters Nye sent to the Library from July 1937 to October 1944.

Also included in this presentation is an essay called "An Informant In Search of a Collector: Captain Pearl R. Nye of Ohio" and a timeline that identifies significant events in the life of Nye and the history of the Ohio and Erie Canal with which his life was so closely associated. A radio program excerpt from "Two Sailors: Sea Shanties and Canal Boat Ballads," part of the Library's "Ballad Hunter" series, provides additional insight into Nye's life.




An Informant in Search of
a Collector