A wooden fence photographed by Ellen on her travels as a folk-song collector.

Ellen’s work as a folk song collector in the 1950s took her to rural Kentucky, New York, and Michigan.

As part of her studies, she did fieldwork in Kentucky and Michigan, collecting folksongs and other material from singers including Sarah Ogan Gunning, Ezra “Fuzzy” Barhight, and Willie Nolan, as well as a snake-handling Pentecostal church.

Her Ph.D. dissertation, Two Voices of Tradition: The Influence of Personality and Collecting Environment upon the Songs of Two Traditional Folksingers, focused on her work with Barhight and Nolan.