Francis James Child
Francis James Child (February 1, 1825 – September 11, 1896) was an American scholar, educator, and folklorist, best known today for his collection of English and Scottish ballads now known as the Child Ballads. Child was Boylston professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard University, where he produced influential editions of English poetry. In 1876 he was named Harvard’s first Professor of English, a position which allowed him to focus on academic research. It was during this time that he began work on the Child Ballads.
The Child Ballads were published in five volumes between 1882 and 1898. While Child was primarily a literary scholar with little interest in the music of the ballads, his work became a major contribution to the study of English-language folk music.
2 The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
3 See also
6 External links
Francis James Child was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His lifelong friend, scholar and social reformer Charles Eliot Norton, described Child’s father, a sailmaker, as “one of that class of intelligent and independent mechanics [i.e., skilled craftsmen], which has had a large share of developing the character of our democratic community, as of old the same class had in Athens or in Florence.” The family was poor, but thanks to the city of Boston’s system of free public schools, the boy was educated at the Boston’s Grammar and English High Schools. There his brilliance came to the attention of the principal of the Boston Latin School, Epes Sargent Dixwell, who saw to it that the promising youngster was furnished with a scholarship to attend Harvard.
At Harvard, “Frank” (nicknamed “Stubby” on account of his short stature) excelled in all classes and also read widely outside his studies for his own pleasure. Although shy and diffident on account of his working-class origins, he was soon recognized as “the best writer, best speaker, best mathematician, the most accomplished person in knowledge of general literature” and he became extremely popular with his classmates. He was graduated in 1846, topping his class in all subjects and was chosen Class Orator by his graduating class (of sixty), who received his valedictory speech with “tumultuous applause”. Upon graduation Child was appointed tutor in mathematics at Harvard and in 1848 was transferred to a tutorship in history, political economy, and English literature.