Appalachian Dulcimer

Appalachian Dulcimer

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This Appalachian dulcimer was made by an unknown maker, possibly eastern Tennessee or North Carolina, undetermined date. It is a single-bout dulcimer, crudely made, with 14 metal frets, 2 diamond-shaped sound holes on body and 3 round sound holes on fretboard, carved out pegboard for 3 friction pegs, and unusual head without a scroll.

Collector Anne Grimes said on November 14, 1974, “This is from Churchill, Tennessee, and I suppose that must be what I put down as Breedlove dulcimer.” William Breedlove was popularly known as the musician “Unaka Bill” and collected instruments in the areas of eastern Tennessee and western Virginia to sell to antique dealers and collectors of musical instruments. There is an index card taped to the back with typed text:

C 6 single bout Smith D 45 p. 68
3 of 3 strings fretted on 14 frets
painted black, dated Oct. 20, 1899, rough construction,
hollow finger board, without cut belly, deep sound box and
downward sloping tuning head without a scroll. Collected
eastern Tenn.

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: 4 1/2 in x 6 7/8 in x 31 1/2 in; 11.43 cm x 17.4625 cm x 80.01 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
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