Peter Ellertsen. 2125 South Lincoln Avenue, Springfield, Illinois 62704-4327. Telephone: (217) 793-2587. Email: hogfiddle [at]

Presentations and articles

“Pastor Esbjorn’s Singing School: Teaching the Old Songs in a New Land.” Background information for my talks on Swedish immigrant hymnody on my blog, Hogfiddle

“‘Pretty Nerdy’ Psalmodikon Meet in Sweden.” Nordic-American Psalmodikonforbundet [newsletter]. In press.

“‘Why, Fiddle You Must’: Edgar Lee Masters’ Account of Traditional Fiddle Music in Menard County in 1914” Illinois Heritage July-August 2016, pp. 42-45.

"'How Newness Enters the World': Cultural Creolization in Swedish-American Hymnals Published at Augustana College, 1901–1925." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 109 (Spring 2016), pp. 9-45.

"Pastor Esbjorn's Box Zither: Reinventing a Swedish Immigrant Tradition." Dulcimer Players News. Fall 2015, pp. 20+; "All Hail to Thee O Blessed Morn: Playing a Christmas Hymn from 185-Year-Old Swedish Tablature," pp. 29+.

"Welcome to Andersonville: Swedish-American Museum Helps Define a Diverse Neighborhood." Illinois Heritage May-June 2015, pp. 15-20.

Pastor Esbjorn’s Singing School. A Workshop for Founders' Day, on the 155th Anniversary of the Augustana Lutheran Synod, Augustana Lutheran Church and Jenny Lind Chapel, Andover, Illinois, April 25, 2015.

"How Brightly Shines the Morning Star." Nordic-American Psalmodikonforbundet [newsletter] Spring 2015, pp. 1-2.

"Pleasant Plains Historical Drama Was a Family Event." Illinois Heritage September-October 2014: 39-40.

"Quad-City Creoles? Blended European and Anglo-American Musical Traditions in Swedish-American Cultural Institutions, 1848-1925." Paper Presented at 16th annual Conference on Illinois History, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield, 26 September 2014.

Workshop on psalmodikon and Swedish-American immigrant hymns, Bishop Hill, Illinois, August 2, 2014.

Played incidental music on dulcimer for production of “Prairie Dreams: The Story of Clayville and its People,” an outdoor drama by Tara McClellan McAndrews, July 4-7, 2014, at Broadwell Tavern, Clayville Historic Site, Pleasant Plains. Also played at the play's premiere, Sept. 7-9, 2012.

Demonstrated psalmodikon and northern European hummel at "Fun on [Highway] 81" festival, Andover, Illinois, June 7, 2014.

"'Roll Jordan, Roll': Bringing Out the Modal Tonality of an African American Spiritual." Dulcimer Players News Winter 2014: ____-____.

"When the Dulcimer Came Down from the Mountain: Photos in the Doris Ulmann Collection at Berea College." Dulcimer Players News Fall 2013: 8-11. Sidebar: "Dulcimers, Spirituals, a Concert Choir and 'the Art that Conceals Art'." Dulcimer Players News Fall 2013: 10-11.

"Roads, Rivers and Creole Tunes: Early Music of Central Illinois." Sunday, June 16. 2013, at Rock Springs Nature Center, Macon County Conservation District, Decatur.

"Celebrating the Art and Craft of Making Traditional Appalachian Music." Dulcimer Players News Winter 2013: 26-34. Sidebar: "An Old Dormitory, a Homer Ledford Dulcimer, and a Kentucky-Made Tradition." [sidebar] Dulcimer Players News Winter 2013: 30.

"'Old Abe ... Never Could Sing Much': Camp Meeting Songs and Fiddle Tunes in New Salem." New Salem Lincoln League, Saturday, April 28, 2012, at Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site, Route 1, Petersburg.

"Roads and Rivers: Minstrels, Waggoners and the Music of the Old Northwest." Sangamon County Historical Society, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012, at Lincoln Library, Springfield.

"'Children of the Heavenly Father': A Swedish-American Hymn Arranged for Mountain Dulcimer" [with Mike Thomas]. Mel Bay Dulcimer Sessions Oct.-Nov. 2011.

"'Clar de Steamboat': A Minstrel Show Tune, Springfield's Small-Beer Poets and the Voyage of the Talisman." Illinois Heritage July-August 2011: 10-17. Sidebar: "Tracing a Minstrel Show Tune up the Sangamon River." [sidebar] Illinois Heritage July-August 2011: 18-19.

"Wilfried Ulrich's Zithers for the Unmusical Common People." Dulcimer Players News Summer 2011: 8-14.

"Dulcimer and Psalmodikon: Diverse Traditions." Nordic-American Psalmodikonforbundet. 14.1 (Spring 2011).

"Psalmodikon: Joyful Revival of a Stern, Square-Jawed Ethnic Heritage." Dulcimer Players News Fall 2010: 50-53+. Sidebar: "Christmas Carols in Sifferskrift Tablature," _____.

"Vachel Lindsay, Edgar Lee Masters and the Roots of Oldtime Music." Illinois State Museum Brown Bag Lecture, Research and Collections Center, Springfield. Sept. 22, 2010.

"The Music Behind the Poetry: Vernacular Traditions in Vachel Lindsay's and Edgar Lee Masters' Writing." Vachel Lindsay Home, Springfield. Sept. 18, 2010.

"Years of Jubilee: Music of the Civil War Era." March 7, 2010. Decatur Public Library, Decatur, Illinois. [See coverage by Kenneth Lowe, "The Sounds of Lincoln's Time: In Music as in Life, the Past is Prologue." Decatur Herald and Review March 8, 2010.]

"Drones, Picks and Popsicle Sticks: The Ancient Sound of the Dulcimer." Sept. 1, 2009. .

"Minding the Store at New Salem." Illinois Times Nov. 13, 2008.

"Tales of Sir Galahad." Illinois Times Jan. 17, 2008.

"A Shape-Note Sing-Along." Presentation at Pioneer Days, W.H. Sommer Park, Peoria Park District, Peoria. Aug. 26, 2007.

"Alaskan Liturgical Hymns, Our Lady of Sitka and the 'Presence of the Holy' in Cross-town Traffic." The Sleepy Weasel 12 (2007-2008). and .

Sacred Music: Early Black and White Gospel Music Traditions." Presentation at Dixon Mounds State Museum, Lewistown, Illinois. July 22, 2007.

"Anglo-Celtic Ballads and Fiddle Tunes in Southern Illinois, 1800-1850" Presentation at John A. Logan Museum during Apple Festival, Murphysboro, Illinois. Sept. 16, 2006.

"Seeking the Old Paths: Shape-Note Singing at Eagle Creek." Midwest Open Air Museums Magazine 37.1 (Spring 2006): 22-28.

"Sacred Harp Singing in a Living History Environment." Paper presented at Midwest Open Air Museums Coordinating Council, Fall Conference, Eagle Creek Conference Center, Findlay, Illinois, November 10, 2005.

Classroom Assesment for Continuous Improvement: A Guide for Instructors. Springfield: Springfield College/Benedictine University, 2005.

Introduction, The Missouri Harmony Songbook [with Karen Isabell]. Wings of Song ed. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society, 2005.

"Healing Power of Art" [Review of prayer against famine & other irish poems by John Knoepfle]. Sleepy Weasel 10 (2004-2005)

Presentations on "Shape-Note Singing Schools on the Illinois Frontier" and "Ballads, Bobby Burns and Fiddle Tunes," Road Scholars, Illinois Humanities Council, 2001-2004 [see above under professional experience for venues].

"The Missouri Harmony: Revisiting the Hymnbook of Shape-Note Music" [with Karen Isabell]. Gateway [Missouri Historical Society] 25.1 (Summer 2004): 33-41. "Praise on the Prairie: The Dark Poetry of the Missouri Harmony." Illinois Heritage April-May 2004: 8-9.

"'Untaught melody of grateful hearts': Southern Appalachian Folk Hymnody in Illinois, 1800-1850." Journal of Illinois History 5.4 (Winter 2002): 258-82.

"Closing the Loop: Assessment in the Springfield College English Department" [with Judi Anderson and Lynette D. Shaw-Smith]." Presentation at Allerton Community College and University English Articulation Conference, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, April 26, 2001.

"Soul of the Wind." Illinois Times April 19, 2001: 9.

"'It Takes a Whole Village' ... to Pass a Referendum." [with Debi Edmund]. Illinois School Board Journal Nov.-Dec. 2000: 4-7; Jan.-Feb. 2001: 26-31

"American Folk Hymnody in Illinois, 1800-1850." Paper presented at Conference on Illinois History, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield, October 14, 2000. and

"Faith, Hope and Poetry: (Pre-)Postmodern Ways of Knowing in the Poetry of Kathleen Norris." Last Lecture Series, Springfield College in Illinois, March 9, 2000.

Tramping Across America: Travel Writings of Vachel Lindsay. Springfield: Rosehill Press, 1999. [Edited, designed, researched and wrote endnotes for the book, which was self-published by William Furry of Springfield.]

"[Paul] Simon: We Have to Stand for Something" [with Debi Edmund]. Illinois School Board Journal Nov.-Dec. 1998: 8-11.

"Beyond Press Releases: Building Community while Building a School" [with Debi Edmund]. Illinois School Board Journal July-Aug. 1997: 18-22.

"Shape Note Singing Returns to New Salem." Illinois Times 14 Nov. 1996: 14.

"The Battle of Belmont and the Citizen Soldiers of the 27th Illinois Infantry." Civil War Regiments 3.4 (1994): 24-67.

"Richard Durbin: Congressman Who Loves his Job." Illinois Issues April 1991: 11-13.

"GOP Leadership in the '90s: A Primary Challenge." Illinois Issues Feb. 1990: 14-16.

"Paul Simon: First Stop, Iowa." Illinois Issues July 1987: 8-11.

"Moline Election Fouled Up by Computer." Illinois Issues Nov. 1985: 12-15.

"James Agee, the Bomb and Oliver the Cat." Christian Century 31 July 1984: 709-11.

Professional experience

Free-lance writer and amateur musician, 1995-present. I have written articles for Dulcimer Players News, the Nordic-American Psalmodikonforbundet newsletter and regional history magazines in Illinois and Missouri [see publications list below]. As a volunteer interpreter at Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site, I demonstrate period music on the Appalachian dulcimer in an 1830s historical village. I also give talks on music history, accompanied on the dulcimer, for a negotiable fee; and coordinate amateur jam sessions of the Prairieland Strings, a dulcimer club in Springfield, and the "Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music" at Clayville Historic Site, State Route 125, Pleasant Plains.

Blog administrator, 2006-present. I have two Web logs, initially created for student assignments and research notes for my classes at Benedictine University Springfield [formerly Springfield College in Illinois]. Hogfiddle, at, contains notes on mountain dulcimers ["hogfiddles"], shape-note hymns, African American spirituals, gospel, blues, Anglo-Celtic ballads, fiddle tunes, Nordic folk music, Lutheran hymnody, cultural studies and folklore. The Mackerel Wrapper, at, has assignments for my mass comm. students, plus links and comment on newspapering and journalism.

Editor and webmaster, 1998-present. For the amateur music groups in Springfield and Clayville, I send out meeting notices and post background information to Hogfiddle. As a volunteer editor at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, 2010-2012, I helped audit and edit transcripts of oral history interviews. As faculty adviser to The Sleepy Weasel, at SCI and Benedictine, 1996-2010, I produced an online magazine featuring public affairs, research and creative writing by students, faculty, alumni and others in the Benedictine/ SCI community. I chaired the assessment committee chair and wrote Nuts & Bolts, a monthly on-line newsletter for faculty providing tips for classroom teachers and updates on federal education policy and learning outcomes assessment practices and procedures.

College teacher, 1993-2010. Benedictine University and Springfield College. Taught English, journalism and interdisciplinary humanities courses in Native American cultural studies and American roots music before retiring in 2010 with the rank of associate professor. Served as faculty adviser to campus literary magazine, The Sleepy Weasel, and chaired faculty Assessment Committee,dealing with learning outcomes assessment and accreditation issues. Named to the LaFata Endowed Chair for distinguished service to the College and its students, 2002-03. Listed in Who's Who Among America's Teachers. I continue to teach occasional mass communications classes as an adjunct instructor.

Speaker, Road Scholars, Illinois Humanities Council, 2014, and 2001-2004. I developed presentations on "Swing Low: Dwight Moody, an Original American Crossover Artist" in 2014; and "Shape-Note Singing Schools on the Illinois Frontier" and "Ballads, Bobby Burns and Fiddle Tunes" from 2001 to 2004 for the Road Scholars program, a speaker's bureau of the Humanities Council.

Desktop publisher, 1992-2000. Rosehill Press, Springfield. Sole proprietor, with wife Debi S. Edmund, of home-based desktop publishing business specializing in book production of short-run literary titles including the chinkapin oak: poems, 1993-1995 (1995) by John Knoepfle and Tramping Across America (1999), a reissue of Vachel Lindsay's travel writing.

Administrative assistant, 1991-1993. Office of the Treasurer, Illinois Capitol, Springfield 62706. Researched banking, taxation and legislative issues assigned by state Treasurer Patrick Quinn; wrote office profile in the Illinois Blue Book and estate tax manual for county treasurers; drafted press releases and assisted with downstate news media advance.

Political reporter and columnist, 1985-1991. The State Journal Register, One Copley Plaza, Springfield 62701. Covered city, county, state and federal elections and political news. Wrote op-ed column, spoke to civic groups and moderated candidate debate panels.

Courthouse reporter, 1984-1985. The Rock Island Argus, 1724 4th Avenue, Rock Island, Illinois 61201. Covered county government, political and economic news. As weekend city editor, assigned spot news stories, sized photographs, edited copy, wrote headlines and laid out inside pages.

Reporter and state editor, 1975-1982. The Oak Ridger, 785 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37828. Covered government, schools, politics, environmental and nuclear industry issues, labor relations, courts and police news in a four-county area. Supervised and edited regional correspondents, helped train beginning reporters.


Workshops in Appalachian dulcimer, ballad, folk hymn and shape-note singing traditions, 1999-present. Appalachian State University; John C. Campbell Folk School; Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College; Western Carolina University; Dulcimerville, Black Mountain, N.C.; and Common Ground on the Hill, McDaniel College, Westminster, Md.

M.A., journalism, 1983. Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

Ph.D., English, 1975. University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

M.A., history, 1967. University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Studied Norwegian language and history, 1966. International Summer School, University of Oslo, Norway.

B.A., history, 1964. Albion College, Albion, Michigan.

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