With eighty-one tales and an equal number of songs, Neely has gathered enough material to cover the human condition, running the gamut from joy to woe, from horror to humor. For admission into this collection, first published in 1938, Neely required only that tales and songs - whether homegrown or transplanted from the great body of world lore - have taken root somehow in the area of southern Illinois known as Egypt. Neely presents the tales under the following headings: local legends, humorous tales, graveyard stories, ghost stories, witchcraft, treasure troves, and European folktales. The tales are oral history, featuring a narrator we can probably visualize and can certainly hear because each storyteller has a very individual voice. In the second part of the book, Neely discusses ballads and songs in general, then presents the songs under these categories: British ballads, other imported ballads, American ballads, western songs, nursery and game songs, miscellany, love in sentimental verse, childhood and temperance, and ballads and songs of local interest. These songs range from the widely known "Billy Boy" and "Casey Jones" to the extremely local "Shawneetown Flood" or "The Belleville Convent Fire.