She composed her own songs, many of which were recorded by such diverse artists as Johny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. In 1952 she toured Ireland with her husband the photographer George Pickow researching the ballads that she had grown up singing in her Kentucky home.
The remarkable photographs taken by George Pickow were acquired by the Library in 1996 and have since been digitised as one of the online archival collections. Last March the Library launched the inaugural Jean Ritchie memorial lecture in her honour. The acclaimed Appalachian author Silas House spoke about the close links between the Irish and Appalachian traditions that Jean Ritchie and George Pickow so responded to.
The Guardian newspaper obituary provides a full account of her life and accomplishments. In addition, Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín wrote an appreciation of George Pickow, published in the Irish Times, 14 February, 2011