Buck and Juanita Coulson Collection of Filk Material

 Collection
Identifier: MUSIC-046

Collection Overview

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of audiotape masters for much of the Off Centaur label's catalog, including live and studio performances for releases beginning in 1980 and ending in the late 1980s, as well as many of the zines and songbooks published by Off Centaur. In addition to commercially-released material, some of the audiotapes also contain non-album tracks, alternate takes, and other material that was not released commercially. There is scant accompanying paper documentation for the reels, containing recording dates, personnel, and notes by audio engineers, though this documentation does not exist for all reels. In addition to the audio content, there is also material that documents publications in the filk community in the 1980s, many of which are related to Off Centaur's recordings, including submissions for zines likely published through Off Centaur and/or Firbird Arts, as well as zines, printed convention materials, and other publications.

Dates

  • 1976-1990

Extent

10 Cubic Feet (Consists of 3 manuscript boxes and 158 audiotape reels.)

Creator

Biographical / Historical

Off Centaur Publications was arguably the first commercial filk label, founded in 1980 by Teri Lee, Jordin Kare, and Catherine Cook. The label was dedicated to recording filk music, which is a fan-based popular and folk music genre, often, but not always, about science fiction and fantasy topics. Until it ceased publishing in the late 1980s, Off Centaur produced recordings of eminent filk performers, recorded both in the studio and at filk conventions. In addition, Off Centaur made filk lyrics, sheet music, and other printed material accessible to filkers, beginning with the Westerfilk Collection songbook, published before Off Centaur’s creation by the company’s founders with David Bratman, and continuing with other songbooks and zines, many of which are represented in the collection. Through both print and audio recording, Off Centaur contributed to the spread of filk music and nurtured its growth through much of the 1980s.

Off Centaur dissolved in 1988 due to conflicts among the founders. Lee went on to found Firebird Arts and Music and gained rights to some, though not all, former Off Centaur releases. Some others were re-recorded by the original artists for other labels, though many have been unavailable outside of their original cassette tape runs.

Though no longer active, Off Centaur Publications was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2005. Founders Teri Lee and Jord Kare passed away in 2021 and 2017, respectively.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for use. Audio materials must be digitized before they can be used; currently restricted to educational and on-campus use.

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement

Arranged into three series: I. Off Centaur Master Recordings, II. Publications, and III. Materials Submitted for Publication.

Separated Materials

Commercial filk cassettes donated with the collection, constituting the bulk of Off Centaur's commercial audio releases, were separated from the rest of the collection; they are cataloged individually in BGSU's library catalog.

Related Materials

Additional filk field recordings and documentation may be found at BGSU in the Jennifer Donaldson Milewski Collection of Filk Research Material (MUSIC-029) at the Music Library and Bill Schurk Sound Archives and the Robert "Buck" Coulson collection (PCL MS 222) at the Browne Popular Culture Library. BGSU also holds filk zines, scores, sound recordings, and books, which are cataloged individually and searchable in the BGSU Libraries online catalog.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection at Texas A and M University also holds substantial filk and science fiction materials.

There are several archival projects led by filkers as of 2021, prominently including the online inventory of the Harold M. Stein Memorial Archive, which consists primarily of the personal collection of Stein, a filker, recording engineer, and collector.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift from Firebird Arts and Music/Teri Lee in a series of donations between 1989 and 1991.

While the collection is named for Buck and Juanita Coulson, two filkers who have been performing and supporting the Midwest filk scene since the 1950s, the materials did not belong to either, though Juanita is featured on some recordings in the collection. Rather, the donor asked that the collection be known as the Buck and Juanita Coulson collection to honor their contributions to the art form

Note on Description

Where possible, description in this finding aid, including publication dates, song and album names, publisher numbers, recording information, and performers was drawn from accompanying documentation. When that information was not available within the collection, it was drawn from other sources, notably the community-driven sites Filk Discography Wiki and Fancyclopedia. Please contact MLBSSA staff with any corrections or edits.

Title
Guide to the Buck and Juanita Coulson Collection of Filk Material
Author
Compiled by David R. Lewis and Frances Zengel
Date
June 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
This finding aid was updated as part of the project Filk Collections at BGSU: Preserving 1980s Fan Culture and Community during the 2022-23 academic year. This project was supported by a Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation