Arthur Palmer Hudson grew up in Hesterville (formerly known as Palmer’s Hall) in Attala County, Mississippi, listening to stories of his ancestors’ exploits in the Mexican, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars and during Reconstruction. Collecting and preserving folk songs and folklore became his lifelong passion.
His mother, Lou Garnett Palmer Hudson, and his father, William Arthur Hudson, enjoyed reading from a library of several hundred volumes housed in a log cabin school. They passed their enthusiasm to their son, who qualified for the University of Mississippi despite his farm-boy background. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1913 and served as principal of Gulfport High School from 1913 to 1918. On 12 September 1916 he married Grace McNulty Noah of Kosciusko, and they went on to have three children.
Hudson taught English at Gulf Coast Military Academy for a year before becoming superintendent of schools in Oxford in 1919–20. He reenrolled at the University of Mississippi, teaching English and earning a master’s degree in 1920. Under the influence of E. C. Perrow, Hudson became an enthusiastic collector of folk songs. He earned another master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1925 and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina five years later, writing his dissertation on Mississippi folk songs. He then returned to teach at the University of Mississippi, serving as an assistant professor in 1920–24 and a professor in 1927–30. On 24 May 1927 he organized the Mississippi Folklore Society. Its first publication was Hudson’s Specimens of Mississippi Folklore (1928). Hudson went on to write numerous books on folklore in Mississippi and the rest of the South, including Folksongs of Mississippi and Their Background (1936). In 1930 he returned to the University of North Carolina, where he taught until his retirement in 1963. He subsequently was named Kenan Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Hudson died in 1978.
- Arthur Palmer Hudson, Journal of Mississippi History (April 1942)
- Arthur Palmer Hudson Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Bonnie J. Krause, “Arthur Palmer Hudson, Mississippi Folklorist,” Mississippi Folklife (1999)
- Hal May, ed., “Hudson, Arthur Palmer 1894(?)–1978,” Contemporary Authors (1984)
- North Carolina Folklore Society Records, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill