Title: Ola Belle Reed collection
Call Number: Coll122
Creator: Reed, Ola Belle, 1916-2002
Dates: 1888-1988; bulk 1933-1988
Size: 32 boxes (42 linear feet)
Language: English
Abstract: The collection consists of audio, visual, and printed materials documenting the Appalachian migration to Maryland (1930s-1960s) and the career and family of musician Ola Belle Reed. The collection includes Reed's autoharp, personal effects and clothing, as well as recorded sound and photographs.
Citation: Ola Belle Reed collection, Maryland Traditions Archives, Collection 122, Special Collections, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD).

Administrative/Biographical Note

Ola Belle Reed (nee Campbell) (1916-2002) was a singer, songwriter and musician from Lansing, North Carolina. During the Great Depression, she moved with her family to Northeastern Maryland, where she lived until her death in 2002.

Reed’s grandfather Alexander Campbell was a Primitive Baptist preacher and fiddle player and her father played fiddle, banjo, guitar, and organ and formed a string band with his brother and sister Ellen. An uncle, Herb Osborne, sang mining songs from the coalfields of West Virginia. Her grandmother and mother sang ballads and topical songs in the Appalachian tradition. As a member of the North Carolina Ridge Runners with her brother Alex, Reed played oldtime banjo and sang for the Appalachian migrant audience in the Maryland-Delaware-Pennsylvania area.

From 1949-1960, local radio station WASA delivered a broadcast of “Campbell’s Corner,” a live broadcast from Campbell’s Corner – a general store located in Oxford, Pennsylvania, which was operated by Alex Campbell and Ola Belle (Campbell) Reed. The back of the store had a stage on which live music was played (typically bluegrass, including Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, and others) and a small number of seats for a live audience. Alex and Ola Belle and the New River Boys were the musical hosts and emcees of the program, which expanded from a 30 minute broadcast to a 3 hour broadcast between 1949-1960. Beginning in 1960, the “Campbell’s Corner” show was broadcast on WCOJ in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, before being picked up by WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia. In addition to performing and broadcasting, the family opened a country music park called the New River Ranch near Rising Sun, MD.

Through the years, Reed wrote a number of songs about her Appalachian past and her commitment to family traditions, religious values, and social justice. In 1978, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, awarded her an honorary doctorate of letters for her contributions to the arts and culture of Maryland and the United States.

Scope & Content


Organized into two series: Series I. Manuscript materials, files, and personal correspondence, 1888-1988. Series II. Ephemera, circa 1950-1980.

Series I. Manuscript materials, files, and personal correspondence

  1. Promotional Materials
  2. Personal documents and correspondence
  3. Media and Materials

Series II: Ephemera

  1. Textiles
  2. Musical instruments

Provenance Information

Provenance and Acquisition Information

Collection donated to the Maryland Folklife Program by Jason David Pate in the 1980s. The collection was donated by the Maryland State Arts Council in 2014 in three accessions: the first on January 14, 2014 from the NCTA, the second on March 5, 2014 from the Arts Council's Ostend St. office, and the third in 2014 from the Maryland State Archives. Accessions: MSS 2013-06, MSS 2014-02, MSS 2014-08.

Related Collections

Ola Belle Reed duplication project, AFC 1970/020, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).Jason T. Pate Recording of Alex Campbell and Ola Belle Reed, AFC 1971/049, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).Henry Glassie collection of Ola Belle Reed and family recordings, AFC 1976/043, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).1977 Neptune Plaza Concert Series collection, AFC 1977/003, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).Henry Glassie duplication project, AFC 1979/085, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).1977 Inaugural folk dance and concert collection, AFC 1980/039, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).Mike Seeger collection, AFC 1995/004, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).

Processing Note

Processed primarily by Nichole Procopenko in 2015, with assistance from Yuri Zietz. Collection processing included reuniting a previously dispersed collection of materials that originated with the Reed family. Materials from the Maryland State Arts Council office consist of digitized copies and related printed material from selected audio tapes at the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA). Materials from the NCTA consist of additional audio tapes. Materials at the Maryland State Archives include personal ephemera (musical instruments, stage outfits, crafts, letters, photo albums, etc.) donated by Ola Belle Reed to MSAC for use in museum exhibitions related to Maryland folklife. In 2022, Acadia Roher addressed conservation issues in the collection and rehoused textiles and instruments.

Descriptive Rules Used

Describing Archives: a Content Standard (DACS)

Archives Processing Manual: Description (2015): The processing manual used in Special Collections for all descriptive platforms, including PastPerfect.

Access & Use

Finding Aids

Finding aid available.

Finding Aid: http://library.umbc.edu/speccoll/findingaids/coll122.php

Access Conditions

No restrictions.

Conditions Governing Reproductions and Use

Reproductions allowed for research purposes. Copyright maintained by the creator.

Subject Headings


Reed, Ola Belle, 1916-2002

Pate, Jason Thomas


Bluegrass music

Bluegrass musicians

Folk music -- Appalachian Region, Southern

Folk musicians

Folk songs, English -- Appalachian Region, Southern

Reed, Ola Belle, 1916-2002 -- Archives

Series Description & Container List

  1. Series I. Manuscript materials, files, and personal correspondence

    Date: 1888-1988

    Extent: 20 boxes (23 linear ft.)

    Description: This series collects files, handwritten notes, promotional materials, correspondence, and miscellaneous paper holdings from Ola Belle Reed. Series arranged by type of material.

    1. Subseries I.A: Promotional materials

      Date: 1906-1988

      Extent: 11 boxes (14 linear ft.)

      Description: This subseries collects posters and fliers, music programs, and other materials related to Ola Belle Reed's professional career.

      1. Folder Title/Description Date Box # Folder # Additional Info.
        Recognitions 1982-1984 1 1
        Correspondence from binder 1935-1976 1 2
        Fliers and program materials undated 1 3
        1970 - PA Civic Center programs 1970 1 4
        1971 - PA Civic Center program materials 1971 1 5
        1973 - National Folk Festival Assn. program 1973 1 6
        1974 - Various program materials 1974 1 7
        1975 - Ticket stub 1975 1 8
        1977 - Program materials 1977 1 9
        1978 - Fliers and program materials 1978 1 10
        1979 - Delaware Bluegrass program 1979 1 11
        1981 - Fliers 1981 1 12
        1982 - Program materials 1982 1 13
        1983 - Fliers and program materials 1983 1 14
        1988 - Fliers 1988 1 15
        Southern Appalachian Video Ethnography Series (SAVES) undated 1 16
        Newsletters/mailers/Ola Belle/J. Pate ca. 1969-1971 1 17
        Newsletters/mailers/Ola Belle/J. Pate ca. 1968-1975 1 18
        Ola Belle photographs and ephemera 1969-1972 1 19
        MFPR C. Camp posters and ephemera ca. 1970-1974 1 20
        MFPR C. Camp posters and ephemera undated 1 21
        Concert fliers: Ola Belle or Jason Pate ca. 1976-1978 1 22
        Fliers and program materials ca. 1970-1974 1 23
        Fliers and correspondence undated 1 24
        Oversized fliers 1968-1972 2
        Fliers and ephemera - Charley Camp ca. 1971-1974 3
        Music publications, songbooks, and programs 1967-1975 4 1
        Music publications, songbooks, and programs 1975-1977 4 2
        Music publications, songbooks, and programs 1978-1980 4 3
        Music publications, songbooks, and programs 1982-1983 4 4
        Music publications, songbooks, and programs 1906-1962 5 1
        Music publications, songbooks, and programs 1963-1967 5 2
        Music publications, songbooks, and programs 1976-1978 5 3
        Music publications, songbooks, and programs 1979-1982 5 4
        Press clippings and music publications ca. 1965-1980 6
        Personal ephemera and framed photographs ca. 1976-1977 7
        Personal correspondence: Candlewood Elementary 1977 8
        News clippings: Ola Belle ca. 1970-1983 9
        Havre de Grace scrapbook 1951-1953 10
        Concert fliers, Winter Folk Festival and Carousel Concerts ca. 1971 11
    2. Subseries I.B: Personal documents and correspondence

      Date: 1966-1984

      1. Folder Title/Description Date Box # Folder # Additional Info.
        Correspondence, Agnes Thomas poetry undated 12 1
        Travel ephemera, brochures undated 12 2
        Personal correspondence - Glassie, Henry, 1 of 2 1966-1969 12 3
        Personal correspondence - Glassie, Henry 1966-1969 12 4
        Correspondence, accounts 1977-1984 12 5
        Business correspondence 1971-1982 12 6
        Personal correspondence 1975-1983 12 7
        Personal correspondence - N. Carolina Folklife Programs 1980 12 8
        Personal correspondence - Wake Forest Elementary 1980 12 9
        Personal correspondence - Phelps Luck Elementary School 1980 12 10
        Miscellaneous undated 12 11
        Correspondence 1971-1984 12 12
        Ralph Reed - High School Reunion undated 12 13
        Reed Family Songbook 1974 12 14
        Jerry Campbell 1975 12 15
        Misc. - financial/business 1975-1979 12 16
        Stamp Saver Booklet undated 12 17
        Correspondence, photocopies, To Lie down in Peace 1980-1982 12 18
        Concert fliers, receipts, personal ephemera ca. 1974-1983 13
        Certificate, First Continental Congress 1974 14
        Personal calendars (with notes) 1966-1984 15 1
        Vintage catalogs 1904-1908 15 2
    3. Subseries I.C: Media and materials

      Date: ca. 1888-1980

      Extent: 5 boxes (4.5 linear ft.)

      Description: Collected in this subseries are audiovisual materials from Ola Belle Reed's personal collection, including family photographs and memorabilia from her career in music.

      1. Folder Title/Description Date Box # Folder # Additional Info.
        Photographs - Reed family 1939-1975 16 1
        Photographs and postcards, Ola Belle and family ca. 1938-1975 16 2
        Photographs, postcards, slides 1933-1975 16 3
        Photographs ABC undated 16 4
        Photographs D-Q undated 16 5
        Photographs RST undated 16 6
        Photographs XYZ undated 16 7
        From packet of loose images - photographs, pencil drawings, and postcards ca. 1920-1980 16 8
        Green Binder photos ca. 1936-1970 16 9
        The Campbell family undated 16 10
        James Dennis Wallace, Carter family undated 16 11
        Ola Belle Reed and unidentified undated 16 12
        Ola Belle Reed photographs, album undated 16 13
        Ola Belle Reed photographs, album (scanned) undated 16 14
        Osborne family photo undated 17
        Umatic videocassette undated 13 1
        Vinyl LP and 78 RPM disc, Alex Campbell/New River Boys + Ola Belle undated 13 2
        Collection of hymnals and songbooks 1888-1929 18 1
        Digitized tapes from NCTA undated 32 1
  2. Series II: Ephemera

    Date: ca. 1950-1980

    Extent: 13 boxes (19 linear ft.)

    Description: This series collects musical instruments from Ola Belle Reed's personal collection as well as textiles made and worn by Reed. Dates are rough estimates as nearly all of the items in this series are undated.

    1. Subseries II.A: Textiles

      Date: ca. 1950-1980

      Extent: 10 boxes (14.5 linear ft.)

      Description: Textiles made by Ola Belle Reed. These items are undated, and inclusive dates are a best estimate.

      1. Folder Title/Description Date Box # Folder # Additional Info.
        Needlepoint undated 19
        Various textiles undated 20
        Cushion/textile undated 21
        Skirt undated 22
        Tapestry undated 23
        Hat undated 24
        Belt undated 25
        Shawl undated 26
        Dress undated 27
        Sweater undated 28
    2. Subseries II.B: Musical instruments

      Date: undated

      Extent: 3 boxes (4.5 linear ft.)

      Description: Musical instruments from Ola Belle's personal collection. Exact dates are unavailable for either instruments' manufacture or when Ms. Reed came to possess them.

      1. Folder Title/Description Date Box # Folder # Additional Info.
        Toy banjo undated 29
        Six harmonicas undated 30
        Autoharp with note undated 31

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