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University of Louisville University Libraries


Digital Collections : Jean Thomas Collection

Jean Thomas, The Traipsin' Woman, Collection

About the Collection

Known as The Traipsin' Woman, Jean Thomas (1881-1982) traveled the mountains of eastern Kentucky taking snapshot photographs of the mountain way of life, writing, and promoting mountain folkways. She was particularly interested in the music, crafts, and language patterns of the area. Included in the digital collection are 1,077 photographs of and by Jean Thomas during her travels throughout the eastern Kentucky mountains and the staging of the annual American Folk Song Festival. The images document musical instruments, quilts, baskets, and other crafts, and scenes with community and family groups, and date from Jean's childhood (ca. 1880s) through the University of Louisville's accession of the collection in 1968 and former Curator of Photography Donald R. Anderson's attendance at the American Folk Song Festival the following year.

The Jean Thomas, The Traipsin' Woman, Collection, accession number 1979.33 in the Photographic Archives, University of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky, 40292), includes 40 linear feet of negatives, prints, and ephemera. The digital collection includes only those images bearing item-level accession numbers: 995 black-and-white nitrate negatives; 3 color Kodachrome safety negatives; 61 black-and-white safety negatives; 12 contact sheets; 2 cabinet photographs; 2 tintypes; and 2 photographic prints.

University of Louisville's Dwight Anderson Music Library holds the records of the American Folk Song Festival, established by Jean Thomas, and her personal correspondence as well as clippings, additional photographs, lyric transcriptions, audio recordings, and artifacts, documented in this finding aid (PDF). Her books are integrated into the libraries' collections, but the manuscripts of all her writings, including her autobiography The Traipsin' Woman (1933), are held at the Dwight Anderson Music Library.

Conditions of Use

The University of Louisville welcomes fair use of this website and its contents. If you wish to publish, broadcast, or publicly display these materials, please notify Archives and Special Collections. In addition, it is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions, which may include paying fees for commercial use. For further information about permissions, use, and ordering reproductions, see Order Reproductions, or contact Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville.

To cite an image from this collection, please use the format:

[Image Number], Jean Thomas, The Traipsin' Woman, Collection, 1979.33, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

To cite the digital version, add its Reference URL (found by following the link in the header above the digital file).


Since the donation of the Jean Thomas, The Traipsin' Woman, Collection to the University of Lousiville Photographic Archives in 1968, many university faculty, staff, students, and volunteers have contributed to its preservation and documentation.

The images were originally scanned for the Kentucky Digital Library in 2003-2004 by Kimberly A. Powers and Amy Hanaford Purcell. Additional scans included with this web presentation were completed by Bill Carner in 2006. Images were typically scanned on a Microtek flatbed scanner as a 1200 ppi TIFF image in 8-bit grayscale or 24-bit RGB color. Rachel I. Howard converted and uploaded the TIFF images to JPEGs of "maximum" quality and resized to 600 pixels in the longest dimension using CONTENTdm Digital Collection Management Software version 4.1.

Barbara Crawford and Mary Phyliss Riedley transcribed Thomas' original captions from negative sleeves. Susan M. Knoer supplemented those captions with Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (TGM-I) subject terms. Rachel I. Howard conducted additional research to identify names, locations, and dates for many of the images, and standardized the metadata in accordance with the University of Louisville Digital Initiatives data dictionary (PDF). Titles supplied by Howard are noted in the description field; all other titles accompanied the images themselves, presumably composed by Jean Thomas herself.

James C. "Andy" Anderson wrote a biographical essay of Thomas, which Rachel I. Howard expanded into the version available here.

Terri L. Holtze designed the HTML pages, assisted by Qing Cao, who designed the PHP elements. Eric Lair and Weiling Liu provided support for the software and server.

Dwayne K. Buttler, J.D., provided copyright advice.

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