McTell Papers of Michael Gray
The Zach S. Henderson Library of Georgia Southern University has acquired the research papers and recordings compiled by English author Michael Gray during the writing of his book on Georgia blues artist Blind Willie McTell, one of the earliest blues performers to record. McTell lived for many of his formative years in Statesboro, home of Georgia Southern University, and he is famous for his distinctive guitar playing and such classic songs as “Statesboro Blues” and “Broke Down Engine.” Mr. Gray published Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell in England in 2007, and an American edition was released in 2009.
Mr. Gray has also written such notable works as The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Song and Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan, and Mother! The Frank Zappa Story. Not only does Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes contribute considerably to our knowledge and understanding of McTell, it is also a story about the challenges of uncovering the details of McTell’s life and death due to the lack of record keeping about black citizens in late 19th and early 20th Century rural Georgia.Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes has been used as a required text in college courses teaching historical and qualitative research methods. Included in the materials obtained from Mr. Gray are recordings and transcripts of interviews with witnesses and folklorists, images of relevant census records, copies of court records, manuscript drafts, extensive correspondence, and the unissued complete recording of McTell’s last studio session in Atlanta, 1956.
We in Henderson Library are grateful to Del Presley, Averitt Foundation, and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences for their considerable support in obtaining Mr. Gray’s research materials, which will reside in Special Collections. More information on Michael Gray is available here.
Posted in Resources and Services
Tags: special collections