This Appalachian dulcimer was made by an unknown maker in the United States, undetermined date. It is a straight-sided dulcimer, crudely constructed and held together with nails, with a wood nut and bridge, four strings (2 melody and 2 drone), 14 metal frets, a diamond-shaped sound hole under the fretboard, and a carved out pegbox with 4 carved wooden friction pegs. The collector Anne Grimes was told by the previous owner that this dulcimer came from Corbin, Kentucky.
As per accession records, on a visit with Anne Grimes, members of the famous folk-singing Ritchie family, Jean and her sister Edna, suspected it may have been made by their friend Will Singleton, but scholars later said that it is doubtful that Singleton made this instrument, as “the joinery is poor, and there are no characteristics to link it with Singleton’s construction methods.” A friend and neighbor of the famous Ritchie family, William Singleton made literally hundreds, more than a thousand, of dulcimers in his lifetime.
Anne Grimes (1912-2004) was an American journalist, musician, and historian of American (particularly Midwestern) folklore. Grimes studied voice and piano at Ohio Wesleyan and initiated graduate studies at Ohio State University. Following her education, Grimes was a music teacher, music and dance critic, and radio host. After WWII, Grimes began collecting and documenting folk songs throughout Ohio, as well as collecting Appalachian dulcimers and zithers. She would continue this work, performing, recording, and lecturing on instruments from her collection throughout the rest of her career.
- Currently not on view
- Object Name
- place made
- United States
- Physical Description
- wood (overall material)
- overall: 6 5/8 in x 42 1/2 in x 11 1/4 in; 16.8275 cm x 107.95 cm x 28.575 cm
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- collector/donor number
- See more items in
- Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
- Music & Musical Instruments
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.