McCracken County Public Library Digital Collections Collections

The Mary Wheeler Collection is an original, private collection comprised of folk songs, notes, scrapbook pages, and photographs that Mary Wheeler composed, wrote, photographed and saved during her lifetime. The bulk of this collection pertains to Mary Wheeler's life and studies of the roustabouts and chambermaids that worked on packet boats during the late 19th and early 20th century. Her work was in preparation for her dissertation, "Ohio River Folk Songs of the Packet Boat Era," and later books, "Roustabout Songs, A Collection of Ohio River Valley Folk Songs" and "Steamboatin' Days, Folk Songs of the River Packet Era." Included here are numerous photographs and songs that Mary Wheeler collected from the the former roustabouts living in the Jackson Purchase region and Ohio River valley during the early 20th century.