Basic but Essential Sources for a History of the Banjo

By Bill Reese

Please send any comments or corrections to

The following is just a basic bibliography for information on the history and development of the banjo in America. It is not intended to be a complete listing. For a very comprehensive bibliography see the list at the end of Linn's book cited below.

Bollman, Jim et. al. "A History of Vega/Fairbanks Banjos," in Pickin, June 1978: pp. 26-38.
Bollman, Jim. "Serial Number Dating Chart," in Pickin, June 1978: pp.40-48.
Bluestein, Gene. "America's Folk Instrument: Notes on the Five-String Banjo," in Western Folklore, v. 23 #4, 1964: pp. 241-248.
Cohen, Stu. "Banjo Makers and Manufacturers." in Mugwumps, v.7, # 2, 1976:pp. 10-13.
Epstein, Dena J. "The Folk Banjo: A Documentary History." in Ethnomusicology v. 19, # 3, 1975: pp.347-371.
Epstein, Dena J. Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977.
Holmes, Mike I. "John C. Haynes Company," in Mugwumps v. 4, # ?, 1975: pp. 16-18.
Kaufman, Eli. "S. S. Stewart Banjos." in Mugwumps, v.2 #3, pp. 3-4 #4, pp. 15-16, # 5, pp. 3-5: 1973.
Linn, Karen. That Half-Barbaric Twang, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991.
Nathan, Hans. Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962.
Sandberg, Larry. Complete Banjo Repair. New York: Oak Publications, 1979.
Toll, Robert C. Blacking Up: The Minstrel Show in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Vazquez, Alberto. "The Vega Instrument Company 1889-1970." in Mugwumps, v. 1 #3,pp. 5-6, & #4, p. 4, 1973.
Webb, Robert Lloyd. Ring the Banjar! The Banjo in America from Folklore to Factory. Cambridge: MIT Museum, 1984.
Winans, Robert B. "The Folk, the Stage, and the Five-String Banjo in the Nineteenth Century," in Journal of American Folklore v.89, # 354, 1976: pp. 407-437.
Winans, Robert B. "The Black Banjo-Playing Tradition in Virginia and West Virginia," in Journal of the Virginia Folklore Society v. 1. 1979: pp. 7-30.

Any additions or corrections should be forwarded to:

from: Phillip Mann's Banjo Tab Collection and Bluegrass Information Site