Fonds - MacEdward Leach fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

MacEdward Leach fonds

General material designation

  • Graphic material
  • Sound recording
  • Textual record

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  • Variations in title: Leach collection
  • Source of title proper: Title based on creator and contents of fonds

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1949-1951, 1960 (Creation)
    Leach, MacEdward

Physical description area

Physical description

138 cm of textual records
102 audio recordings
89 photo negatives

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Leach edited standard editions of the romances Amis and Amiloun (1937) and Paris and Vienne (1957) as well as The Ballad Book (1955), The Critics and the Ballad (1961) with Tristram Potter Coffin and Folk Ballads and Songs of the Labrador Coast (1965). Just before he died, he completed the revised ballad bibliography for Wells's "Manual of the writings in Middle English, 1050-1400". Leach was dedicated to folklore and its development as an academic discipline, and expended much energy on behalf of the American Folklore Society and its operations. From 1943 to 1960 Leach was Secretary-Treasurer of the Society and from 1960 to 1962, its President. During this time he almost single-handedly nurtured that organisation from near collapse to vigour, encouraging local societies as a foundation for the national one, inaugurating the Bibliographical and Special Series to generate revenue and giving his time whenever needed.

As early as 1949, and throughout his career, Leach collected folksongs, ballads, and instrumental folk music in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Jamaica, and the Southern Mountains of the United States. In fact, he made several trips to Newfoundland during which he collected more than 600 songs and other folklore. Leach's first wife was Alice May Doan (Maria Leach), with whom he had a son, Donald; his second was Nancy Rafetto, with whom he had also a son, Douglas.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists primarily of audio recordings and field notes made in Newfoundland, Labrador and Nova Scotia during Leach's field trips. They include 102 audio recordings made in 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1960. Included also are Leach's tape tables of contents; field notebooks with textual and musical transcriptions; index cards containing information on songs and singers and items of folklore of various genres; 89 b&w negatives of coastal scenes and individuals; photocopies of correspondence with various Newfoundlanders and Canadian officials regarding his proposed field trips, and from informants in Newfoundland.

Source: Article by T.P. Coffin in American Folklore- An Encyclopedia by Jan Harold Brunvandt.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Gift of estate of MacEdward Leach, 1970.


Fonds is not yet arranged into series.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script note

Some text in Gaelic. Translations available.

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Reference copies of audio recordings are available.

Restrictions on access

Access with permission of archivist.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Material in MUNFLA is available primarily for research and has copyright protection. It may not be published in any form without first obtaining permission from the archivist and the copyright holders.

Finding aids

Indexes to audio recordings and photographs are available.

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Related materials


General note

The University of Pennsylvania Research Annex has copies of the Newfoundland material as well as Leach's manuscripts and sound recordings from fieldtrips to other locations.

Accompanying material

A translation made by Margaret Bennett of the Gaelic texts is included.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created - April 30, 2013

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


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