History of the Archive

The Ellis Paul Archive started, very simply, as my personal collection of Ellis Paul CDs. It began with the purchase of Stories on May 22, 1997 after a show at a venue called The Backstage in Seattle. Later that year I purchased Say Something and Carnival of Voices. The following year, Translucent Soul was released and became the fourth item in my collection.  At some point during that first year I discovered that Ellis Paul appeared on several compilation CDs and I started adding them to my collection.    I also discovered that Ellis had made guest appearances on several recordings of other artists and I began acquiring them.  Thus began a continually growing and seemingly never ending pursuit.  As of this writing the collection of compilation CDs and guest appearance CDs, when added to Ellis' own solo work numbers nearly 200.  

In 1998 there was a feature article about Ellis in the magazine Dirty Linen. I began a subscription to the magazine and discovered the capability to order back issues. When I learned that additional articles about Ellis existed in a few of those back issues, they were added to my collection. From there I discovered other articles in other magazines. In most instances I have managed to acquire the entire magazine issue, not simply an article reprint.

Newspaper articles were next. The collection of newspaper articles includes online reprints as well as the entire hard copy in many instances. Friends around the country, most of whom I met through Ellis' Fan Out organization, sent many of these to me.

In the fall of 1999 I met Bill Eley who was one of the first members of Fan Out - Ellis' grass roots fan-based support group.  By that time, I had started keeping a typed, annotated list of the CDs in my collection and shared the list with Bill. He commented on how much he enjoyed reading the annotations which was the beginning of our collaboration.  At some point one of us referred to my collection as an "archive" and Bill and I started discussing the possibility of turning what began as my personal collection into a collection for true archival purposes.  Bill started helping to add items to the collection by searching for CDs on E-Bay.  I kiddingly refer to him as "Chairman of E-Bay Procurement."  Many of the really obscure CDs now in the collection are a result of Bill's tenacity and generosity.

Bill and I both read what we could about maintaining an archive and together in August 2000 we visited the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. I should mention that since I am a librarian by profession, this visit was especially exciting for me. Bill arranged for us to meet with Jennifer Cutting, Folklife Specialist, and Stephanie Hall, who was the Director at the time. Both Jennifer and Stephanie were very helpful in describing their process for storing items in the collection and provided much encouragement. Jennifer gave us a tour of the Folklife Center, which included seeing some of the items in the Center's Woody Guthrie collection.

By July 2001, the Ellis Paul Archive had grown to such a degree that the next logical step was to inventory the items in the collection and develop a list of its contents. Over the Fourth of July holiday I designed a format for the print listing and added the contents. Since then it has undergone continual revisions as the collection has grown.

In June 2003 Bill and I decided to move forward by designing a web site for the Ellis Paul Archive.  Jennifer Chorn launched the first website for us in 2003 and in September 2008 the website moved to a SLAB500 server.

Our objective in acquiring items for the Ellis Paul Archive and maintaining it in an organized way is to capture a moment in time during which folk music is enjoying a resurgence of popularity. We hope that future generations of folk musicians and folk music followers will benefit from having this historical documentation. We feel that the music of Ellis Paul will be an important part of that history.

Karen M. Zundel, MLS
Belle Vernon, PA.

updated: 9 years ago