Collecting Trail

In 1935, Adams found work with the WPA’s Virginia Historic Inventories Project. He was responsible for documenting places, events, and objects of historical importance in Wise County. In 1938, he was assigned to the Virginia’s Writer Project, and from that point he officially began collecting folklore from around the region. During his time with the project, he traveled to the areas indicated on the map, and collected the folksongs and folktales from the areas. When the VWP was officially over in 1942, James Taylor Adams had collected over one third of the folklore collected for the entire state of Virginia. The extent of his travels during his lifetime should be considered quite the achievement and should serve as a clear indication of his dedication to his work and to the preservation the regional folklore. During the time Adams was traveling and working for the WPA, it was quite uncommon for people in this area to ever leave their “hollers”, and “trips to town” were few and far between. This is because the local infrastructure was underdeveloped; the highway systems that exist now, and that are present on the map did not exist then as they did now. To extensively and repeatedly travel the region as he did would have proved to be very difficult for Mr. Adams. The map below details the areas to which he traveled, and provides a list of the tales he collected there.