Southern Appalachian Digital Collections

Western Carolina University (21) View all


  • wcu_craft_revival-1803.jpg
  • This photograph of four mountain dulcimers was taken by John Jacob Niles (1892-1980) in the late 1930s. Niles accompanied and assisted Doris Ulmann on her photography trips through Appalachia, where this photograph was most likely taken. Niles, a composer, singer, and collector of traditional ballads, also made and played traditional musical instruments. The instrument on the far left was built by Jethro Amburgey of the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky. The third instrument from the left was built near Boone, North Carolina by Nathan Hicks. The instrument on the right was made by John Jacob Niles and Park Fisher, a woodworking teacher at the John C. Campbell Folk School. The Amburgey and Hicks dulcimers are in the collection of the John C. Campbell Folk School. The current location of the other two instruments is unknown.