STANLEY A. RANSOM
Stanley A. Ransom is known as a folk musician, but he is a man of many gifts...
Born in Winsted, Connecticut, in 1928, Ransom took his stage and performance name in 1951 from the 19th century Connecticut peddler, sometimes spelled "pedlar," who traveled around with a pack on his back, selling needles, pins, seeds, clocks, patent medicines and notions of all kinds to rural residents of nearby states. Ransom's pack, however, has been filled with songs of all kinds and for all ages for more than six decades.
The recording artist knows several hundred American, English and Irish ballads, as well as songs and tunes from other parts of the world, and he enjoys sharing them with his audience. Ransom was extensively involved in the traditional folk music revival on Long Island in the '50s and '60s and can remember "times in our Huntington home when more than 70 folk musicians were crammed into every corner of every room playing and singing."
Ransom comes from a musical family who was "always singing, playing music, and involved with choirs and singing groups." In 1940, at age 12, he and a friend formed a guitar playing duo called The Hartland Harmony Boys. In the Army of Occupation in Japan in 1946-48 he was a member of The Yensmen, a choral group of the 19th Infantry Regiment. From 1949-1951 he was a member of the Yale Glee Club, singing under Marshall Bartholomew. The Yale University graduated obtained a master's in library service from Columbia University then became a member of the University Glee Club of New York City, and later the Men's Chorus of Huntington, Long Island.
Following his education, Ransom worked as a librarian for the New York Public Library. A professional librarian for more than 40 years, he is the retired director of the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System in Plattsburgh, NY (1972-1991) – serving 29 member public libraries – and the former director of the Huntington, L.I., Public Library (1958-1974).
He said: "To me, the position of librarian is the most satisfying one in the world. I like books, and I like people, and the job of the librarian is to bring books and people together."
His book, America's First Negro Poet: Jupiter Hammon of Long Island, was published in 1970, with a second edition in 1983. It received a Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History. He originated Black Poetry Day, celebrated nationally each year on October 17th – the birth date of Jupiter Hammon in 1711. The purpose of Black Poetry Day is "to recognize the contribution of Black poets to American life and culture and to honor Jupiter Hammon, first Black in America to publish his own verse."
The folklorist is a member of the National Storytelling Institute. For more than 50 years, he has been a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Plattsburgh Rotary Club. He proposed the Olympic and Winter Sports Museum for Lake Placid. He and his wife, Christina – a medical librarian – have been co-chairs since 2000 of the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration “Kid’s Games,” teaching 40 children’s games played in 1814. In 2017, they were honored as marshals for the Battle of Plattsburgh Parade. Together, they have four children.
At 91, Ransom – who was named Irishman of the Year in 1998 by the Plattsburgh Chamber of Commerce – remains active recording and serving on boards.