Kenneth S Goldstein (1927–1995)

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Taken at the 1978 “Irish Week” in St John’s, NL, this photo depicts (from left to right): Dr Kenneth S Goldstein, Prof Bernice Schrank, Aidan O’Hara, Dr Tom Farrell (Member of Provincial Parliament, Newfoundland & Labrador), and Joyce O’Hara (photo courtesy of Aidan O’Hara; used with permission).

While many of the recordings featured in A Grand Time were the result of solitary visits to the Cape Shore, a number of the recordings were made with the support and assistance of Aidan O’Hara’s colleague and friend, folklorist Kenneth S Goldstein.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kenneth S Goldstein started his career in the business sector. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, theoretical mathematics, and statistics from the City College of New York. After army service during the 1940s, he worked as a market researcher and analyst, also taking up positions as the folk music director for Stinson, Folkways and Riverside Records, and folk and blues director for Prestige Records.

Goldstein first turned to the serious study of folk song during the 1950s. His early fieldwork include collecting trips that focused on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. During the late 1950s he enrolled in a new postgraduate degree programme at the University of Pennsylvania. With the assistance of a Fulbright Scholarship that supported his research with Edinburgh University’s School of Scottish Studies, Goldstein earned the first PhD in Folklore and Folklife from University of Pennsylvania in 1963.

Just over a decade later, he joined the faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He was the head of the Department of Folklore from 1976 to 1978 and a research associate until his death on 11 November 1995. Aidan O’Hara and many other students and colleagues worked with Goldstein during this time to document the traditions of Newfoundland. 

Shortly before I left Newfoundland to return home to Ireland in the autumn of 1978, I retraced my steps with the renowned folksong scholar, Dr Kenneth S Goldstein, and recorded some of my singers on a Nagra reel-to-reel using a professional microphone and making full-track recordings. Our joint effort was funded by the Canada Council, and was the start of a mammoth collecting task that eventually took Kenny all over Newfoundland. At the time of his death in 1995, he had recorded approximately 3250 songs, probably the largest collection of its kind in North America
-Aidan O’Hara, notes on the collection at ITMA

A large quantity of these materials are housed at the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A leader in his field, Goldstein held a variety of editorships and presidency terms in professional organisations, including the Folklore Associates, Pastime Books, American Folklore Society, and the Pennsylvania Folklore Society. He also held advisory roles with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Smithsonian Institute in the United States. Based on fieldwork in England, Scotland, Australia, and other locations, he produced 525 LPs, 10 books, and numerous articles.