|Birth: ||Apr. 22, 1873|
|Death: ||Jan. 31, 1946|
New Jersey, USA
Family and other birth records as well as early censuses show he was named Edward Mellinger Henry. He went by "Mel". Early in his adult life his name is recorded or signed as E. Mellinger Henry, later he used Mellinger E. Henry and was published under that name.
He was educated at Harvard and Columbia after graduating from Brown University in the Class of 1899. Shortly after graduation he undertook a hiking trip through Europe, for which he kept a diary. It was an exciting and at times frightening experience. He wrote of the glorious scenery and wonderful people, but also of the freezing cold, shoes that he was patching together, blistered feet and lack of funds resulting in near starvation and an incarceration for non payment of a hotel bill. At one point he boarded in a house in Germany where Louise Pound was also staying, to whom he sent his 89 page diary afterward. His love of hiking and exploration were not diminished by this experience, but rather it was an inspiration for a life-long avocation.
He entered the teaching field, becoming a professor of English at Dickinson High School in Jersey City, New Jersey as well as and Adjunct professor at Columbia. He was an avid hiker and belonged to numerous mountain clubs up and down the Appalachian chain.
During the last thirty years of his life he "hiked over mountain tops from Oglethorpe, Georgia, to Canada." Shortly before his death he noted that he was "now trying to hike to Mt. Katahdin, Maine," which he climbed in 1916.
Mount Katahdini the highest mountain in Maine at 5,269 feet. Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indians, the term means "The Greatest Mountain".It has inspired hikes, climbs, journal narratives, paintings, and a piano sonata. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and is located near a stretch known as the Hundred-Mile Wilderness
He married Florence Stokes (August 3, 1921) whose family had ties to Georgia. Together, the Henrys made numerous trips into the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountain regions of Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina which he referred to as "The Southern Highlands".
In 1923, on one of their trips, they heard Dr. C. Alphonso Smith deliver a lecture on American ballads and folk songs, and almost immediately began their collecting of songs from the people they encountered in the mountain back country. This resulted in the publishing of several books and numerous articles.
Mr Henry had a genial manner which garnered the trust of the "mountain people" and Mrs Henry with her musical training transcribed the songs.
From his obituary:
"Mr. Henry's portly, genial figure, his twinkling eyes, and his liking for acquaintance and friendship made him a conspicuous and long-remembered figure at many of the summer folk festivals and the annual meetings of various
He published numerous articles in the Journal of American Folklore, the New Jersey Journal of Education, the New York Times and other journals. In 1934, his first book, Songs Sung in the Southern Appalachians, was published in London by the Mitre Press. Beech Mountain Folk Songs and Ballads, a collaborative effort with Maurice Matteson, was published in 1936 by G. Schirmer. This was followed in 1937 by Henry's Bibliography for the Study of American Folk-Songs, also published by Mitre Press. In 1939, Folk Songs of the Southern Highlands was published in New York by J. J. Augustin.
An avid reader, he accumulated a library of 10,000 volumes, including American and first editions of Thomas Carlyle, George Eliot, John Masefield, William De Morgan, Joseph Conrad, H. G. Wells, Jack London (whose widow he corresponded with), and others. To this day many old volumes ordered from many used booksellers and libraries will be found with their template inside the covers.
Over the years, he made a point of sending reprints of his published journal articles to various colleagues and mentors, including Harry Lyman Koopman and S. Foster Damon, both connected with the Brown University Library. It was presumably due in part to their encouragement, and Mel Henry's fond memories of his alma mater, that Mrs. Henry decided, after her husband's death in 1946, to donate his papers to the John Hay Library at Brown.
Mellinger Edward Henry's contributions to American folksong comprise the following books and articles:
Songs Sung in the Southern Appalachians (London: The Mitre Press, I934).
Bibliography of American Folk-Songs (London: The Mitre Press, I937).
Folk Songs of the Southern Highlands (New York: J. J. Augustin, I938).
The Lexington Girl (JOURNAL OF AMERICAN FOLKLORE42 : 247-53, I929).
Ballads and Songs of the Southern Highlands (ibid. 42: 254-308, 1929).
Pearl Bryant (ibid. 42: 301-03, 1929).
More Songs from the Southern Highlands (ibid. 44: 6I-I24, 193I).
Negro Songs from Georgia (ibid. 44: 437-47, I93I).
Still More Ballads and Folksongs from the Southern Highlands (ibid. 45: 1-176,
"The Ballade of the Skunk" (ibid. 57: 281, I944).
Review of Steamboatin' Days: Folk Songs of the River Packet Era (Wheeler)
(ibid., 59: 238-40, 1946)
Zachariah Taylor Henry (1848 - 1927)
Emma Mellinger Henry (1848 - 1936)
Florence Newton Stokes Henry (1885 - 1962)
Mellinger Edward Henry (1873 - 1946)
Minnie May Henry Ervin (1879 - 1975)*
Lawrence Calvin Henry (1881 - 1940)*
Viola Pearl Henry Calihan (1884 - 1975)*
Plot: section 3 lot 322A
Created by: Robin Henry
Record added: Feb 11, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 125004087