William Roy Mackenzie. Literary scholar, folksong collector, writer, b River John, Pictou County, NS, 14 Feb 1883, d there September 1957; BA (Dalhousie) 1902, MA (Dalhousie) 1903, MA (Harvard) 1905, PH D English (Harvard) 1910, honorary LLD (Dalhousie) 1950. At Harvard U he came under the influence of George Lyman Kittredge, the successor to Francis James Child as a ballad scholar. He joined the dept of English at Washington U (St Louis, Mo) in 1910 and eight years later became its head, establishing an enviable reputation for his knowledge of Shakespeare. As a child, he became familiar with folksongs of the fishermen and sailors in his hometown on the north shore of Nova Scotia and wrote down many of these 1909-19. The first scholar to collect Anglo-Canadian songs, he recounted his collecting and research in the autobiographical The Quest of the Ballad (Princeton, NJ, 1919). Helen Creighton declared in 1967: 'I know of no book that tells the joys, frustrations, patience, and dedication of the collector more than his Quest of the Ballad.' The merit of Mackenzie's approach, according to Lovelace, lies 'in his careful observation and presentation of the views of his informants'. In principle, his interest centred on words rather than tunes. His Ballads and Sea Songs from Nova Scotia (Cambridge, Mass, 1928, repr 1963), collected along the Northumberland Strait, contains 162 songs with 42 tunes along with scholarly notes and was an important inspiration for Creighton and other collectors. G. Malcolm Laws, Jr, in his foreword to the 1963 reprint, calls it 'both a pioneering collection and a classic in its field'. He noted that Ballads and Sea Songs is in fact the first important collection to devote most of its attention to the traditional broadsides. The 1928 publication appears to have ended Mackenzie's collecting activities.
'Ballad singing in Nova Scotia,' JAF, vol 22, Jul-Sep 1909
'Three ballads from Nova Scotia,' JAF, vol 23, Jul-Sep 1910
'Ballads from Nova Scotia,' JAF, vol 25, Apr-Jun 1912