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Well I had started that about the age of twelve... see my mother had a guitar, my father made her a present of a guitar, and he taught her a few chords, but I first started on a little outfit I made with a cigar box... I made a guitar with a cigar box, had peg keys, bored holes in the head, and I had uh... the strings graduated from fishing twine down on to thread - Johnny St. Cyr, guitarist for the Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers in an interview with Alan Lomax on how he learned to play guitar

Author Topic: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete  (Read 2811 times)

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Offline timjo62

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Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« on: December 16, 2010, 08:12:35 PM »
I read some posts on this website about Alan Govenar's biography of Lightnin' Hopkins. I wrote my master's thesis and doctoral dissertation on Hopkins. Just this week I finally had a chance to read Govenar's book. I was saddened to see how much content he "borrowed" from my copyrighted master's thesis.

I've put up a website for my upcoming book which is scheduled to be turned into the publisher (an academic press) on April 1, 2011. I am working on  blog post now which go over some of the uncredited passages in Govenar's book that came from my thesis and that will correct some of the errors in Govenar's book.

My website, which includes pieces of my original research as well as a "Lightning album of the week" feature is here:
http://lightninghopkins.org/

Offline Stuart

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2010, 08:08:40 AM »
Hi Tim:

Thanks for the heads up re: your forthcoming book and the info on your M.A. thesis and diss. Your disappointment is understandable. While all available information is fair game when we do research and write, when we base ourselves on or draw from the work of others, giving credit where credit is due, and formally acknowledging the work of others--usually in footnote or endnote citations and prefatory material--is standard operating procedure and just plain old honesty--and not just honesty of the academic kind.

Unfortunately, your experience is nothing new. And the lack of any practical way of holding someone accountable, short of a lawsuit, doesn't leave you many options for dealing with this.

Keep us posted.

Offline don o

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2010, 09:26:16 AM »
Looking forward to your book.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2010, 11:02:40 AM »
Govenar Notes p. 288 note 11. Timothy J. O?Brien, ?Sam Hopkins: Houston Bluesman, 1912?1960,? M.A. Thesis, University of Houston, 2006. O?Brien writes that Sam?s mother?s maiden name was Frances Washington. Ray Dawkins says her maiden name was Davis. However, the Leon County Web site about Lightnin?, the one that presents solid census research on Abe, says her maiden name was Frances Washington, but she is also listed as Frances Sims pre-1903, and speculates that she may have been married before Abe.

Govenar Notes p. 297 note 28. Timothy O?Brien, MA thesis, p. 64

Govenar Notes p. 298 note 64. In an interview with Timothy O?Brien, McCormick claimed that he had in fact written to Folkways to produce a record with Hopkins, and the Sam Charters ?showed up.? O?Brien, p. 70.

Govenar Bibliography p. 315. O?Brien, Timothy J., ?Lightnin? Hopkins: Houston Bluesman, 1912?1960,? MA thesis, University of Houston, 2006.

I may be missing something but the above look to me suspiciously like the author citing sources and, as such, are tantamount to acknowledgement.

Offline timjo62

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2010, 02:03:29 PM »
I did not write that Govenar did not cite my thesis or footnote some of my work. I wrote that "I was saddened to see how much content he "borrowed" from my copyrighted master's thesis."

So let me clarify my post. There are several uncredited passages in Govenar's book that came from my original research. In my post on this website, I also wrote that "I am working on [a] blog post now which go over some of the uncredited passages in Govenar's book that came from my thesis and that will correct some of the errors in Govenar's book."

In that upcoming blog post on my website [http://lightninghopkins.org/],  I will lay out several of the more egregious instances of this in Govenar's book. Since I am primarily concerned with getting my book turned in to the publisher on time, I am working on that blog post as time permits. In my upcoming post I will lay my evidence of Govenar's "borrowing" without citing my work so that everyone who reads it can see for themselves Mr. Govenar's methods.

Because I am a credentialed historian in a peer reviewed field, I must cite my sources and even though Govenar's work is on a commercial press with lower standards than an academic press, what Stuart posted above "giving credit where credit is due, and formally acknowledging the work of others ... is standard operating procedure and just plain old honesty--and not just honesty of the academic kind" applies.

Federal copyright law is very well settled on the type of thing that Govenar has engaged in. So stay tuned Bunker Hill and you will see that Mr. Govenar has not been very forthcoming about where he got some of the material in his book.

Offline dj

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2010, 07:42:11 AM »
Quote
Because I am a credentialed historian in a peer reviewed field, I must cite my sources and even though Govenar's work is on a commercial press with lower standards than an academic press...

Tim,

With a full page of acknowledgements for assistance, 23 pages of notes and 8 pages of bibliography, Mr. Govenar seems to have done a good job of citing his sources - one equal to or better than the random books from academic presses I pulled down and browsed for comparison.

I can't comment intelligently on the rest of your issue with Govenar because you have yet to provide any concrete examples of what you claim Govenar has done.  Perhaps it would have been better if you had waited until you were able to provide such examples before you started the discussion.  At any rate, I don't see much point in continuing this discussion until you provide some examples.  
« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 08:04:25 AM by dj »

Offline timjo62

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2010, 07:33:46 PM »
DJ -  Let me address your concerns.

First of all you may want to note that the Chicago Review Press is not an academic press and according to Mr. Govenar's editor commercial presses like his  "have lower standards."

Federal lawsuits are expensive and uncertain for all parties including independent publishers. You know how injunctions can get entities to halt the sales of books when they're sitting on thousands of unsold copies?  I don't think Mr. Govenar's publisher is too happy with him right now. I do not really care either way, but you are right that I have not shown my evidence.

And it is best to put information out to the public so they know.

The problem for Mr. Govenar is that I made several typos in my thesis in my rush to finish before my wife had a baby. See below. Mr. Govenar has my home phone number, my address is in the phone book. He was in Houston for a book signing. I went to it and he had nothing to say except "Congratulations" (on my PhD). I've met him before but he seemed to be very nervous.

Feel free to pass the following information to Govenar, his publisher already has it. (there are of course many more instances of his "borrowing" but these make my point).

On page 220, in the first full paragraph Governar writes: "... and on June 20, 1979, the mayor of Houston issued a proclamation to celebrate "Lightnin' Hopkins Day."" Governar puts no footnote for this entire paragraph. Yet on page 89 of my thesis, under the 1979 entry: "June 20. Proclaimed Lightning Hopkins day... presentation at Juneteenth blues festival." I know this information in Governar's book must have came from my thesis because the event actually occurred on June 19 (or Juneteenth as the day is commonly known as here in Texas.)

On page 2 of Governar's book he writes, Sam stated that he was born on March 15, 1912, a date he reiterated in his song "Going Home Blues (Going Back to Talk About Mama)," ...  contrast that with my sentence on page 6 of my thesis "Sam Hopkins himself claimed he was born in 1912. He even sang about it in his song Goin Back to Talk to Mama that he recorded in in Houston in 1949 or 1950: 'I was born March 15th - man the year was 19 and 12.'" 

Then further down in the same paragaph, Governar writes: "The Social Security Death Index lists his birthdate as March 15, 1912, and his death certificate says it was March 12, 1911." He gives no citation for where he got that information. Compare that with this sentence on page 6 of my thesis: "The social security death register puts Sam's birth date as March 12, 1912, while his death certificate listed March 12, 1911 as his birth date." Another typo? March 15 or March 12? Governar has the same typo as me? How does he know what those primary sources say if he does not cite them, I have the primary sources and footnote them.

On page 203, first full paragraph, Governar writes : "In 1973 he was booked for a a five night gig at the Egress Nightclub in Vancouver from February 19-23 ..." Again this information goes uncredited in his book. But on page 88 in my thesis under the 1973 entry, it says "February 19-23. Worked the Egress nightclub, Vancouver, Canada."

I won't be chiming in any more on this discussion because as I said, I am primarily concerned with getting my book to the publisher (an academic press) on time. I will post an in detail post on this subject on my website next month:

http://lightninghopkins.org/

Happy holidays.



Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2010, 03:33:28 PM »
Hey man,

Welcome to the forum.  I'm always glad to read more about Lightnin'.

I looked at your blog post about no evidence of Hopkins serving time in a chain gang.  My first question is:  Could he have served time under an alias?


Happy holidays.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Offline RobBob

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2011, 05:55:43 PM »
So it sounds like you know what it is liked to get ripped off like any number of blues singers have been.  Sorry to hear it.  Am looking forward to reading your take on the man.  I would take a bus uptown to a small record shop in the 1960's.  It was called Martha's Turntable Record Shop.  One day she told me, "You be the onliest one buying these old blues records."  I gathered that the black community had no use for the music.  I bought a bunch of Lightnin's LPs from her.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2011, 01:52:24 AM »
Robert Ford has drawn my attention to this http://www.carnesfuneralhome.com/timothy-joseph-o-brien.

:o

Offline jostber

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2011, 02:28:12 AM »
Robert Ford has drawn my attention to this http://www.carnesfuneralhome.com/timothy-joseph-o-brien.

:o

Sad to see this. RIP. His web site http://lightninghopkins.org/ has got a lot of interesting information on Lightnin' Hopkins. Hope the book will be released as planned.




Offline Stuart

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2011, 07:34:36 AM »
Robert Ford has drawn my attention to this http://www.carnesfuneralhome.com/timothy-joseph-o-brien.

:o

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Alan. This is sad news indeed. I exchanged a couple of e-mail messages with Tim a while back and he struck me as a sincere and passionate person who was dedicated to social justice. Hopefully his book will be released so that the work he did in life will be accessible and available.

Offline shwhaley

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Re: Lightnin' Hopkins biography almost complete
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2011, 05:56:06 AM »
I was wondering if there has been any news regarding this book since the death of the Mr. O'brien?

 


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