Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 15 July 1939

A dose of mountain dulcimer history throughout the year

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 15 July 1939

Postby dbennett » Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:30 am

15 July 1939 is the date on a Virginia dulcimer made by Samuel F. Russell (1860-1946) of Marion, Virginia.

Sam Russell was born in 1860 in Grayson County, Virginia, and died in 1946. He was a carpenter and cabinet maker who made a significant number of dulcimers. Sam's father also made dulcimers.

Ralph Lee Smith speculates Sam was principally active as a dulcimer maker in the 1920s and 1930s, leaving open the possibility that Sam made a few dulcimers earlier than that.

Ralph Lee Smith wrote in a Dulcimer Players News article, "Russell is the only person who produced a significant number of Virginia-style dulcimers for sale prior to the post-World-War II folk revival... this gives him a reasonable claim to being Virginia's counterpart to Kentucky's better-know Uncle Ed Thomas and Jethro Amburgey."

He played at the Yorktown Centennial and Grayson County’s White Top Folk Festival, a major event that was held from 1931 to 1939. At the White Top Folk Festival in 1933, Sam played his dulcimer for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Russell Sam1.JPG

Russell Sam2.JPG
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