Abstract: Some years ago, Mr. Nicholas Lee of the Wills Memorial Library at the University of Bristol brought to my attention a collection of material gathered together by the late Stanley Smith. This collection consisted mainly of notes referring to traditional plays, which had been performed in the early part of the century in South Wales, an area from which few such plays had previously been noted.
As I read through the accompanying letters and researched into Stanley Smithís background it became apparent that, besides present us with more examples of plays, the collection does two additional things. Firstly, it shows the methods which Smith used in compiling the information, and consequently provides us with a context against which we can assess the value of his findings. Secondly, Smithís notes demonstrate many of the problems which are encountered when we are faced retrospectively with trying to decipher someone elseís material.
Together, these problems highlight some of the doís and doníts we should follow, in terms of information gathering, contextualizing, and organization of our records. Furthermore, it reminds us that much of what we are dealing with has been "filtered," and that we need to apply some sort of "source discrimination" before we begin to make statements about the "nature of tradition."