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Sam Hinton Papers
MSS 683  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Contents of Collection
  • Biography
  • Restrictions
  • Preferred Citation note

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sam Hinton Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 683
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 11.8 Linear feet (27 archives boxes, 1 card file, and 6 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1937 - 2006
    Abstract: Papers of Sam Hinton, professional folksinger and teacher of literature and folklore. The collection is primarily composed of song compilations from Hinton’s performances, collected songs, coursework from UC Folklore courses, and contracts and correspondence regarding Hinton’s recording career. Also included is Hinton’s work with Sing Out! Magazine; this material includes work written and edited by Hinton. The collection also includes drafts and research for Hinton’s published articles and books, as well as drafts of his personal writings and unpublished materials. In addition, the papers contain biographical materials, writings, correspondence, and artwork and calligraphy that Hinton created during his personal and professional career.
    Creator: Hinton, Sam, 1917-2009



    Scope and Contents of Collection

    The Sam Hinton Papers reflect Hinton's professional performance career. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence; drafts and notes for published books, magazine, and newspaper articles; and engagement calendars and notebooks. The materials also contain photographs and biographical memorabilia. Although the materials span from 1937 through 2006, the bulk of the collection dates from the 1950s through the late 1980s.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is made up of letters between Hinton and the staff and faculty members of UCSD, personal mail, letters about various workshops and performances in which Hinton performed, and fan mail.
    One correspondence of significance are letters between Hinton and Pete Seeger, another well-known folksinger from the 1960s and 1970s. Besides performing together at festivals such as the Berkeley Folk Festival, Hinton and Seeger shared a friendship and wrote letters back and forth over the decades.
    The SONGWRITING AND RECORDING series is arranged in two subseries: A) Songwriting, and B) Recordings.
    A) The first subseries, Songwriting, contains songs written and composed by Hinton, and includes song lyrics, sheet music, and song drafts.
    B) The second subseries, Recordings, contains information about each album that Hinton recorded. Materials in this subseries include contracts, album and liner notes, album reviews, and correspondence between Hinton and various record labels. This subseries also contains discographies that provide a chronological outline of all the albums and recordings that Hinton created over the years. The albums are arranged in chronological order.
    The PERFORMANCES series comprises brochures and programs from 1939 through 1999 for multiple folk music festivals and workshops. The collection also includes programs and flyers from various folk music festivals in which Hinton performed. This series is arranged in alphabetical order.
    A large part of this series is made up of performance engagement calendars, which cover Hinton's performing career during the 1980s and 1990s. These documents contain a daily calendar for each year with accompanying performance and workshop information, including an engagement calendar from 1937, when Hinton was a member of the Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour. This series also includes oversize performance posters from 1964 through 1976 from multiple concerts and festivals.
    The final part of this series is made up of song lists by date of performances, which contains the song lists from Hinton's performances dating from 1957 to 2002. These lists are arranged chronologically. Hinton also created song list notebooks, which range from 1951 to 1996. These personal notebooks list the date and location of the performances, as well as a brief song list for each event.
    The COLLECTED SONGS SERIES is arranged in two subseries: A) Lyrics and Sheet Music, and B) Song Titles.
    A) The first subseries, Lyrics and Sheet Music, contains songs written by others that Hinton collected over his lifetime, which are organized by subject, such as Irish Songs or Sea Shanties; or alphabetically by song title. This sheet music was kept in Hinton's original order.
    B) The second subseries, Song Titles, contains undated compilations arranged by subject (i.e. Cowboy Songs or Work Songs) or era (i.e. Depression Songs or Gold Rush Songs). Put together for various purposes, Hinton utilized these lists at his live performances, at his workshops, and as a resource for others interested in folk music.
    The TEACHING MATERIALS series is made up of syllabi, lecture notes, course outlines and correspondence regarding several of the music and literature courses that Hinton taught at UCSD and the UC Extension program. These documents are organized alphabetically by course name.
    Two of the courses included in this series, "Forms of Folklore" and the "Nature of American Folk Music," were taught over consecutive years. The documents for these courses include lecture notes and outlines from various years that Hinton was employed by UCSD. Lecture audio cassettes Hinton utilized for "Forms of Folklore" can be found in Series 11, AUDIO CASSETTES.
    The final part of this series includes "Hinton’s Singing Through History" lectures, which he performed for local San Diego County schools. These materials include sample programs by grade and by subject.
    The WRITINGS series is made up of drafts and research materials for Hinton’s unpublished works, which include poetry, miscellaneous essays, and multiple scientific and musical articles.
    A significant portion of this series is Hinton's article entitled Longevity of Fishes in Captivity. The papers concerning this article include correspondence regarding research and first and final drafts of the article.
    Another part of this series contains the entire manuscript of the final draft of Hinton’s unpublished memoir A Naturalist in Show Business.
    The PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS series contains three subseries: A) California Folklore Society, B) Other Organizations, and C) Sing Out!.
    A) The first subseries, California Folklore Society, consists of documents pertaining to Hinton's involvement with this organization during the 1970s, and includes brochures, lecture topics, and general correspondence.
    B) The second subseries, Other Organizations, contains information regarding various associations in which Hinton belonged. These documents include correspondence, meeting minutes, and other organization information for Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), the Scripps Institution of Oceanography-Aquarium Museum, the California Traditional Music Society, and the Scripps Shoreline, Knoll and Underwater Reserve Committee.
    C) The third subseries, Sing Out! is made up of documents pertaining to Sing Out! Magazine. This subseries contains the mission statement and strategic plan for the organization, by-laws and a list of the board of directors for the association, as well as correspondence for both Hinton and the board of directors for the organization.
    The ARTWORK series is organized in two subseries: A) Calligraphy and B) Sketches and Drawings.
    A) The first subseries, Calligraphy, contains Hinton’s original drafts of awards and pamphlets that were done on tracing paper in addition to finished calligraphy works. This subseries also includes original gift tags that were made by Sam, his wife Leslie, and their children Leanne and Matt.
    B) The second subseries, Sketches and Drawings, consists of both Hinton's published drawings that appeared in newspapers and magazines, and unpublished sample illustrations, drafts, portraits, and a sketch book.
    The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series contains selected files from Hinton’s UCLA undergraduate coursework, annual calendars, news clippings, photographs, Hinton’s college diploma from UCLA, and various awards from Hinton’s professional career. A large portion of this series is made up of daily planners dating from the mid-1950s through 1999 that contain Hinton's personal and professional appointments. This series also contains news clippings and blurbs pertaining to Hinton’s life and his work as both a professional musician and a faculty member at UCSD. Hinton also created a scrapbook of newspaper articles from his time with the Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour.
    Another portion of this series contains the photographs and images folders, which are made up of promotional portraits of Hinton used during his musical career, including photographs for album covers and promotional paraphernalia. These photographs also contain negatives of promotional pictures. Also included with these images is a photolithographic plate done in the 1940s of a promotional shot of Hinton and his guitar.
    The MISCELLANEOUS series contains a scrapbook of signed photographs Hinton collected from the time he was on the Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour. This series also contains blueprints, sketches, and written instructions on how to create different musical instruments. Along with these instruction manuals, Hinton also kept materials that included instructions on how to create string figures and play string figure games.
    This series also contains documents given to Hinton by Theodore Folsom on Folsom's 1956 pipe harmonica patent. Included are notes, correspondence, patent drafts, research, and pipe harmonica plans.
    The AUDIO CASSETTES series includes audio cassette tapes used by Hinton for the "Forms of Folklore," LIT 161 course taught at UCSD. The tapes contain different instruments, song examples, and various cultural and ethnic recordings from around the world.


    Sam Hinton was born on March 31, 1917, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At an early age he began performing music, playing his button accordion, harmonica and pennywhistle for the public. Hinton and his family moved to Crockett, Texas, when he was 12. In 1935, Hinton began to perform with his two sisters, Ann and Nell, under the name of “The Texas Trio.” The Texas Trio performed on numerous local radio programs, and in 1937 Sam was hired to perform on the popular radio program The Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour.
    Hinton enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1937. While he was studying zoology, he met Leslie Forster; they were married in 1940. Hinton graduated from UCLA with a degree in zoology in 1941. While he pursued his degree, he appeared in the musical revue, Meet the People, from 1939-1940.
    Hinton was the director of the Palm Springs Desert Museum for three years, until he was hired as an editor/illustrator for the University of California Division of War Research in San Diego, California. He continued his career with the University of California for the next 35 years, where he regularly taught courses on Folklore for UC San Diego and UC Extension. He spent 16 of those years as the director of Relations with Schools for UCSD. He retired from UCSD in 1980.
    After Hinton retired from UCSD, he continued to perform full-time. He performed for local schools in San Diego, where he created his classroom program, "Singing Through History." Hinton used his knowledge of the history of folklore to create playlists and programs for the classroom. He also continued to travel throughout the United States, where he performed at national folk festivals and musical workshops.
    Hinton served as the director of the Aquarium-Museum at the Scripp’s Institution of Oceanography for almost 20 years. During this time he wrote two books on marine biology, Exploring Under the Sea; and Seashore Life of Southern California. Besides his personal publications, Hinton served on the board of directors of Sing Out! Magazine, and wrote numerous articles for various science and folklore journals.
    Throughout his career, Hinton recorded 12 solo albums, which include Singing Across the Land, 1956; Whoever Shall Have Some Peanuts, 1964; I’ll Sing You a Story, 1972; and Sam Hinton: Master of the Solo Diatonic Harmonica, 2005.


    Audiorecordings in Series 11: AUDIO CASSETTES are restricted. Researchers must request a listening copy to be produced.

    Preferred Citation note

    Sam Hinton Papers. MSS 683. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    California Folklore Society.
    Seeger, Pete, 1919-
    Sing Out Corporation.
    University of California, San Diego.
    Folk music--United States--20th century
    Folk singers--United States--20th century
    Musicians--United States--20th century
    Songs--United States--20th century