Benny & Eula Sims Collection and “Not Just Whistlin’ Dixie”

We’ve recently finished processing the Benny and Eula Sims Collection (the online guide may be accessed by clicking here). While the bulk of the collection includes numerous songbooks, there are also handwritten lyrics, photographs, and documentation of Benny Sims’ involvement in the Air Force Orchestra during World War II.

[Lowell Blanchard’s Folio of Mid-day Merry-Go-Round Favorites Book One”, 1945; Carl Story and the Rambling Mountaineers Quartet Book of Favorite Songs; Tommy Magness Album of Your Favorite Songs as Sung by the Tennessee Buddies Book 1,” Radio Station WDBJ, Roanoke, Virginia; The Smoky Mountain Hillbillies Book of Song Favorites; Hazel Pearl’s Own Collection Picture and Story Album of Your Favorite Hillbilly Entertainers; Songs as Sung by J.E. Mainer and his Mountaineers, Favorite Melodies from the Hills as Sung by Roy Hall and his Blue Ridge Entertainers, Foggy Mountain Boys Number Three Edition, Mountain Music Makers, 1954; Down the Road Music Score by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, 1939]

Songbooks, such as the ones pictured above, are often used by East Tennessee State University students in the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program. Students find them useful for the lyrics and the interviews or biographical information often found within the first few pages of the book. For example, the following is an excerpt from the “Carl Story and the Rambling Mountaineers Quartet Book of Favorite Songs”:

From: Carl Story and the Rambling Mountaineers Quartet Book of Favorite Songs
From: Carl Story and the Rambling Mountaineers Quartet Book of Favorite Songs, Benny & Eula Sims Collection

Music students also use other textual resources in the Archives, including publications such as Bluegrass Unlimited, The Old Time Herald, Pickin’, or The Devil’s Box.

We are excited about a “new” publication found in the Sims’ collection to add to our holdings entitled, Not Just Whistlin’ Dixie, which was published in Bristol, Tennessee. The Sims’ donation included seven issues from 1986-1987. The paper includes a variety of articles on local musicians and organizations, events, and the history of the region’s music. We are eager to share this resource with our students and researchers.

Here’s an article from the April 1987 issue featuring J.L. Vernon by Lester Murray:

"J.L Murray" from "Mountain Music & Ol' Time Musicians by Lester Murray
“J.L Murray” from “Mountain Music & Ol’ Time Musicians” by Lester Murray

Unfortunately, we do not know much about this publication. If anyone can provide us with information, please leave a comment!

If you have any issues you would like to donate, please contact Jen Bingham, Collections Archivist, at: or 423-439-6991. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Sims Collection, other resources we provide, or visiting the Archives, please contact Laura Smith, Education and Outreach Archivist, at: or 423-439-6990.


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