Jean Ritchie, singer, folklorist and dulcimer player was born on 8 December 1922 in Viper, Kentucky. She was the youngest of a family of 14 children, known as .The Singing Ritchies. Jean graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1946 and taught for a time. In 1952 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to enable her to research the origins of her family's songs in Great Britain and Ireland. Her husband George Pickow, a photographer, accompanied her and they spent approximately eighteen months recording folk songs and traditional musicians and taking photographs. The photographs include photographs of many well-known uileann pipe players, for example Seamus Ennis, Michael Reagh, the McPeake trio, Leo Rowsome; vocalists, including Elizabeth Croinin, Sarah Makem and Mary Toner and story tellers, such as Patcheen Faherty from the Aran Islands.
As well as assisting his wife in her research George Pickow also used the opportunity to do features on aspects of Irish life, Christmas celebrations with straw boys and wren boys, life on the Aran Islands, Dublin scenes, the American Ambassador and his family in Ireland, the story of St Patrick, the development of Dublin Airport, operations of the Garda Síochána at Dublin Castle, and Irish sporting activities, such as road bowling, hurling, coursing, hunting and racing. Photographs were also taken of traditional Irish crafts, for example spinning, weaving, thatching and crios and sliotar making. In a video recording made with George and Jean Pickow in the early 1990s regarding their visits to Ireland, George says that these photographic stories were for the Sunday News in New York.
The photographic archive is comprised of one hundred and sixty seven sheets of black and white contact prints with corresponding negatives, numbering one thousand eight hundred and eighty seven photographs in total. The majority of the photographs were taken using Kodak safety film and these negatives are unfortunately not numbered so the sequence cannot be followed. The last ten sheets of photographs were taken using Eastman 5 6 super xx safety film and Ilford hypersensitive panchromatic film, these negatives are numbered. There are also one hundred and ninety prints in two sizes, 19x19 cms and 27x27 cms, of which ninety five are mounted.
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