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Smith, James W.



  • Existence: 1929 - 1990

Biographical Note

James W. Smith was born in Boston in 1929. His mother, Mary Monica (McDonagh) Smith, immigrated to the Allston area of Boston from County Galway, Ireland at age 20. His father, Maitland S. Smith, was born in Allston and became a driver for Boston-area news organizations. Maitland and Mary Monica married in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1928 and had four children. In the 1950s and 1960s, James Smith and his parents hosted informal gatherings of musicians in their home on Bayard Street, Allston. Smith used his reel-to-reel tape recorder to record the Irish traditional music played at these sessions. He was an amateur accordion player, and his personal friends during this time included flute player Gene Frain of Watertown. Smith died in 1990 in Andover, Massachusetts.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

James W. Smith Irish music recordings


This collection documents Boston-area Irish music in the 1950s and 1960s through unpublished recordings of social gatherings made by James W. Smith. These recordings capture reels, jigs, waltzes, hornpipes, and set dances with instrumentation from solos to groups including fiddle, flute, whistle, and accordion.

Restrictions on Access

Open for research. Recordings have been digitally copied; all original media was retained, but may not be played due to format. Digital use copies can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room.

Dates: 1950s-1960s