(University of Illinois Press) Looking at American folk songs as a frame for the American experience, Wells shows how particular historical circumstances have shaped folk songs, and how those songs have evolved through regional migration. He examines how songs represent changing attitudes toward issues including war and religion, work and the labor movement, slavery and Jim Crow, transportation in America, and the institution of the family. Covering four centuries of American history, this book also includes a discussion of modern folk artists Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie. Wells is the Chauncey H. Winters Professor of History and Social Sciences at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. He is the author of Facing the “King of Terrors”: Death and Society in an American Community, 1750-1990 .