The Jack Guy Collection of Beech Mountain Folklife
An ongoing project of the North Carolina Folklife Institute, made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, and the North Carolina Arts Council.
“Jack could have been anything in the world.” -Loretta Guy Clawson, former Mayor of Boone, NC, and cousin of Jack Guy
Jack Dana Guy (1928 – 2008) was an entrepreneur and folklorist from Beech Mountain, North Carolina, a community globally renowned for its rich Appalachian folk traditions. In the 1960s he operated Guy’s Folk Toys, a business that allowed dozens of craftspeople from the North Carolina mountains to earn income by making and selling traditional toys and musical instruments. Operating his shop, Guy’s Trading Post, in a small log cabin in Beech Creek, Jack also organized and hosted gatherings in which area artists performed and shared old-time, bluegrass, and gospel music, ballads, and folktales.
Like the folk hero Jack, star of the Jack Tales told for generations on Beech Mountain, Jack Guy was a phenomenally resourceful man. Though he had little formal education, he became a well-known businessman who made both a positive impact on the lives of his neighbors, and a crucial contribution to the perpetuation of his community’s traditional heritage. He also became the most prolific documentarian of Beech Mountain folklife, whose personal archive of audio recordings and photographs presents the heritage of this small but important Appalachian region from the crucial perspective of a native son.
In 2016, the North Carolina Folklife Institute (NCFI) received a donation of more than 100 reel-to-reel tapes, more than 800 photographs, several films, and many other items that had belonged to Jack Guy. This collection offers a special glimpse into early- to mid-20th-century life in a very special cultural community. [About the collection link] As NCFI’s Jack Guy Project progresses, we will be sharing more and more music, photos, and resources related to Beech Mountain folklife on this site. The original materials will all return home to Watauga County, North Carolina, to be preserved in the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection at Appalachian State University.
Director, North Carolina Folklife Institute
Explore the collection!
We invite family members of the artists and community members represented in the Jack Guy Collection (and others from the Beech Mountain area or who are simply interested in its folklife) to collaborate with NCFI in identifying people in these photos, films, and recordings, and in sharing thoughts about presentation of the materials. Please click email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The North Carolina Folklife Institute is grateful to the late Herb Thornton of Mebane, North Carolina, for his gift of Jack Guy’s archive; and to the following funders for support that made the Jack Guy Project possible.