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Musical Poetry in Idaho: Digitizing the Ione Thielke Recordings

About the Project

In 2014, Special Collections and Archives received an $11,747 grant from The GRAMMY Foundation Grant Program to digitize a collection of 225 acetate discs and reel-to-reel recordings of Ione Love Thielke. By digitizing and making the recordings freely available online, researchers and the public have access to a portion of never-before-accessible Idaho music. The grant was written by Cheryl Oestreicher, head of Special Collections and Archives, with assistance from local musician and historian Gary Eller.

Listen to Gary and Cheryl discuss the project on Ramblers’ Retreat hosted by Greg Harness, KRBX, January 14, 2015.



In 2008, the Idaho Songs Project found a set of about a dozen recordings made around 1950 by Ione Love Thielke in a private collection in Blackfoot, Idaho. The recordings were homemade using a portable acetate disk recorder of the type that became available after World War II. The Project arranged for the donation of the Blackfoot Collection to Special Collections and Archives at Boise State University (SCA). The Idaho Songs Project located the descendants of Ione Love Thielke and facilitated the donation of several more boxes of her recordings to SCA.

Though the content represents the local and regional communities, these are the first (and possibly only) Idaho recordings with potential to contribute to national conversations and studies about contemporaneous folk music and poetry. Thielke mostly took local and regional poems to set to music. Based upon her handwritten titles, the topics of these recordings include Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Minnesota, California, Arizona, America, cowboys, trains, wilderness, rivers, mountains, romance, family, animals, Christmas, and others.