Educational CyberPlayGround ®

1915 - 2002

"I say then that cultures do not and never have flourished in isolation, but have flowered in sites that guaranteed their independence and at the same time permitted unforced acceptance of external influences." This is a much more realistic formulation than either cultural separatism or cultural assimilation. ~ Alan Lomax "Appeal for Cultural Equity" (Journal of Communication, Spring 1977) In his notes for the record album American Folk Songs for Children (Atlantic 1350)

2012 "Folklorist's Global Jukebox Goes Digital," NYT
The folklorist and ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax was a prodigious collector of traditional music from all over the world and a tireless missionary for that cause. Long before the Internet existed, he envisioned a “global jukebox” to disseminate and analyze the material he had gathered during decades of fieldwork.

Alan Lomax Archive

From NPR... Alan Lomax Massive Archive Goes Online
The best song-makers for children are the folk, whose rhymes are rubbed clean and hard against the bone of life, whose fantasies are heart-warming and fertile because they rise out of billions of accumulated hours of living with and caring for children. . . . The jingles, riddles, silly ballads, wistful lullabies, jiggy tunes and game songs belonging to the children of the American frontier will one day make a book far more warm and witty than the traditional Mother Goose.
-- Alan Lomax in his notes for the record album American Folk Songs for Children (Atlantic 1350)

1925. Moe Asch (b. Warsaw, Poland, December 2, 1905; d. New York, N.Y., October 19, 1986), later founder of Folkways Records, stumbles across John A. Lomax's book of cowboy songs in a Paris bookstand. The book and its Presidential endorsement make a profound impression on him, causing him to conclude that “a people have no culture unless they have folksongs.”

Folklorist's Global Jukebox Goes Digital," New York Times 2012
A decade after his death technology has finally caught up to Lomax's imagination. Just as he dreamed, his vast archive — some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts, much of it tucked away in forgotten or inaccessible corners — is being digitized so that the collection can be accessed online. About 17,000 music tracks will be available for free streaming by the end of February, and later some of that music may be for sale as CDs or digital downloads. On Tuesday, to commemorate what would have been Lomax's 97th birthday, the Global Jukebox label is releasing “The Alan Lomax Collection From the American Folklife Center,” a digital download sampler of 16 field recordings from different locales and stages of Lomax's career.


Alan Lomax Archives

Alan Lomax in 1946

Alan Lomax Website

Remembered 1915-2002
passed away on the morning
of July 19, 2002

Alan Lomax is survived by his daughter Anna Lomax Chairetakis of Holiday, FL; his grandson Odysseus Desmond Chairetakis of Holiday, FL; his sister Bess Lomax Hawes of Northridge, CA; his step-daughter Shelley Roitman of Holiday, FL; his nephews; John Lomax III, Nicolas Hawes, John Bishop, Drew Mihalik, and his nieces; Ellen Harold, Patricia Gordon, Susan Mihalik, Naomi Bishop and Corey Dinos. Tribute Page

In the early 1930s, Alan Lomax and his father, pioneering folklorist John A. Lomax, first developed the Library of Congress' Archive of American Folksong as a major national resource. Alan Lomax has been called "The Father of the American Folksong Revival," for his subsequent work as an ethnomusicologist, record producer and network radio host/writer. He first presented Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Burl Ives, and Pete Seeger to a national audience on his radio programs in the '30s and '40s. As a radio producer and field recordist at the BBC, he sparked a British folksong revival, which soon fueled the British pop-rock Invasion. He also assembled the first recorded overview of world folksong for Columbia Records. As an anthropologist of the performing arts (for Columbia University and Hunter College), he has produced a multimedia interactive database called The Global Jukebox, which surveys the relationship between dance, song, and human history. The author/producer of many books, scientific articles, films, and record releases, Lomax has also become a passionate advocate of "cultural equity," a principle which proposes to reverse the centralization of communication and give equal media time to the whole range of human cultures. Recent projects include the prize-winning 1990 television series, American Patchwork for PBS; and the documentary portrait of the blues in Mississippi, entitled The Land Where the Blues Began, which won the 1993 National Book Critics Award for non-fiction.

Alan Lomax is best known for his work in America as a folklorist and ethnomusicologist, but in fact, he traveled the world documenting the music of many cultures. Alan Lomax recorded, organized and analyzed over 5,000 hours of field recordings and 2,500 hours of film and video from around the world throughout six decades for what is now regarded as one of the premier collections of 20th Century world folk music

Sister Bess Lomax Hawes - Noted folklorist and performer with Pete Seeger.

Son John and Ruby Lomax on their three-month trip across the American South in 1939. The pair traveled over 6,500 miles and, along the way, recorded approximately 25 hours of folk music from over 300 performers. These gems of American musical culture include fiddle tunes, cowboy songs, field hollers, lullabies, and spirituals. Find a special thematic presentation that contains a detailed itinerary of their travels, complete with hyperlinks to songs recorded along the way.

John Nova Lomax - Houston Press (June 14, 2007)
"Wasn't your grandfather the guy who discovered Leadbelly?" Having the same name and being in the same trade as John and Alan Lomax, I get questions like that a lot. And yes, I am related to both of them, but neither was my grandfather. John Avery Lomax was my great-grandfather, and Alan Lomax was my grandfather's brother. John Avery Lomax Jr. was my grandfather, and though he is not as widely remembered as his father and brother, his contributions to American music and that of Houston deserve remembering in their own right. Since today is the 100th anniversary of his birth, at the risk of great self-indulgence (hell, isn't that what blogs are for?), I'd like to post a little something about him.


GRAMMY Magazine - February 21, 2003 2003 Trustees Award: Alan Lomax
This Special Merit Award is presented by vote of the Recording Academy's National Trustees to individuals who, during their careers in music, have made significant contributions, other than performance, to the field of recording. The Trustees Award was established in 1967.

A Brief Description Of A Very Unique And Folkloric Event by Peggy Bolger Library of Congress
Alan's funeral was held in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where he has been living and recovering from a major stroke in the care of Anna Chairetakas (his daughter) and her son, Odysseus. [For those who don't know, Tarpon is a Florida city that is known for its Greek community. Settled originally by Greek sponge fishermen, the community has retained a remarkable amount of traditional culture and artistic expression from the Greek archipeligo]. Attended by about 60 loving family and immediate friends, as well as his caregivers for the past few years and new-found Florida friends, the funeral was an intimate time to reflect on Alan's life as a father, uncle, and grandfather. It was not a huge gathering with the professionals and musicians that he has worked with over the years . . . . my understanding is that a New York memorial service may be held later in the year.
Anna, who has been "adopted" by the wonderful Tsimouis family of Tarpon Springs (many of you may remember Nikitas Tsimouris, the traditional Greek bagpipe maker and player who participated in festivals in Florida and DC, and received heritage awards in his later life). Nikitas' widow became Anna's godmother when she became a Greek Orthodox church member. Anna arranged for a brief Greek Orthodox service, and many in the gathering were from the church. When the priest was done, John Lomax III began the informal testimonies by regaling us with funny anecdotes about his uncle. Odysseus read a few of the email testimonies that had come to Anna, including ones from Studs Terkle and Stetson Kennedy. Unfortunately, many people could not attend due to illness (I guess a sign of our aging numbers).
Steve Belmont, who is a music producer and promoter who had worked with Elvis, gave an astonishing brief story . . . Later in his life, Elvis asked Steve one day to listen to a song he had learned called "Lordy, Lordy, Lordy" and to tell him who wrote it. Steve listened and said, that must be from a 50s group like the Comets. Elvis replied "No, that was recorded in the 1930s by two geniuses! John and Alan Lomax."
Then an elderly woman with a cane rose and said that she never knew Alan Lomax, but she had been a school teacher in the 1950s and 1960s. She was teaching in one of the first integrated elementary schools, where the tensions (even at that age) were terrible. She had heard Alan's LP Library of Congress recording of African-American children's songs and realized that several songs were also sung by her formerly all-white class. She used Alan's recordings to break down the barriers in her students, using music to transcend the situation in the school. She ended her account by saying that to her, Alan was a hero for recognizing the power of traditional song and preserving it for us.
I offered my perspective from the Library of Congress, and spoke of Alan's prolific collections that are NOT music and referenced the Pearl Harbor collection as one that has proven to be invaluable to the historic record.
A close family friend sang an Italian lullaby that Anna and Alan used to sing together.
Alan was arrayed in the traditional manner, without a coffin, lying on a velvet bier, family and friends could say their goodbyes before and during the service. On either side were large flower tributes that had arrived, including one in the shape of a boat that Anna said would have been his favorite. Also arrayed on the sides were photo albums and framed photos of Alan in the field and doing his life's work, as well as his two guitars. During the course of the viewing and funeral, somehow Alan acquired several "goods" to take with him. I never saw anyone actually place these objects, but when we filed out, Alan had a deck of cards in one hand (from his physical therapist who played cards and games with him) and in the other hand was a framed photo (I think of his wife) and a CD.
One special attendee was Clara, the dog, who was a special friend to Alan in these last years. We all went to Anna's house afterwards to visit and eat incredible Greek food that kept arriving from the community.
So, these are just really off the cuff impressions, but I hope it gives a sense of the event . . . a journalist I am not.

"'What the Neighbors Say:' The Radio Research Project of the Library of Congress" by Alan Gevinson. It
appears in an LC publication entitled _Performing Arts Broadcasting_ (published in 2002) featuring several articles on radio collections at the LC. Gevinson's article focuses on a Library initiative (with money from the Rockefeller Foundation) begun in 1941 to establish a recording lab at the LC and to create radio programs and "documentaries" drawn from LC collections. This resulted in numerous field recording trips (guided by Alan Lomax who was then in charge of the LC's Archive of American Folk Song) including the Asheville Folk Festival, "Okie" and "Arkie" migrant camps, opinions of the war in Europe (and then the bombing of Pearl Harbor), interviews with members of the Strates Carnival, and many others. These recordings were then turned into radio programs for broadcast. The article discusses the reasons and motivations behind creating these radio programs from the Library, and how the development of these documentaries went from scripts read by actors (including a young Arthur Miller) to some of the more unscripted voices from the public.
We also have a guide to our Alan Lomax CBS American School of the Air collection (from 1939-1942).
Ann Hoog Folklife Specialist (Reference) American Folklife Center Library of Congress Washington, DC 20540-4610 phone: (202) 707-4428 fax: (202) 707-2076


1) Leadbelly source
" [... anything can be copyrighted, at least for a time. Unlike the United States Patent Office, there is no one in the Copyright Office to verify the originality of the work to be copyrighted. However, I know of at least one federal case in which the court ruled that if the antiquity of a song can be proven, the copyright fails.
John and Alan Lomax, who also devoted themselves to collecting and preserving traditional folk music, took the controversial step of copyrighting in their own names the songs they collected, as if they had written the songs themselves.
They even copyrighted original songs collected from other singers, such as Leadbelly's "Good Night Irene." This prompted Leadbelly to add a verse to "De Ballad of De Boll Weevil":

"If anybody axes you who it was dat wrote dis song,
Tell 'em it was a black-skinned nigger wid a pair oí blue duckins on.
If anybody axes you who it was dat copyrighted dis song,
Tell 'em Alan Lomax and his goddamned father John."]

2) Years later, in an expanded edition of "Cowboy Songs," Professor Lomax characterized the enigmatic lyrics and haunting air of Whoopie Ti Yi Yo as being "touched by the style of the Irish traveling folk." Lomax does not credit the SOURCE

3) Ruby Pickens Tartt also helped John Lomax in Alabama's Black Belt.

4) John W. Work III

John W. Work III

John W. Work III (ca. 1950.) was a composer and musicologist at Fisk University in Nashville.

Fisk University, Franklin Library, Special Collections

Grammy recipient, Album Notes:
John Work, III: Recording Black Culture

Bruce Nemerov, album notes writer
(Various Artists) [Spring Fed Records]

According to " Lost Delta Found," Work, the leader of the Fisk research team, who initiated the Mississippi study when he applied to the Library of Congress for money to support a recording trip to Natchez. Alerted to Work's interest in Southern vernacular music, Lomax, who ran the library's Archive of American Song, entered the picture and, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Nemerov say, diverted the project to Coahoma. Once the team arrived in Coahoma, they were told of a blues singer who worked as a farmhand on Col. Howard Stovall's plantation. That farmhand turned out to be McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters.

Mr. Gordon sifted through Lomax's vast archive at Hunter College in New York, where, after much burrowing, he found a manuscript stuffed in the back of a file cabinet in a powder-blue cover with Lewis Wade Jones's name on it. Also written on the cover were the words "Property of Fisk University."

When Mr. Gordon matched up the document to the incomplete, hand-written manuscript that Mr. Nemerov had unearthed, he knew he had discovered a significant contribution to Southern folkloric scholarship. Work's manuscript, in particular, is a crucial primer on the region's musical practices, from sermons to children's songs - his careful academic analysis leavened with interviews with the county's citizens. "To me, Work is important because he's an academic who sees the value of homegrown, vernacular material," Mr. Gordon said. "Most academics were ashamed of that." Unlike Lomax, Work took note of well-spoken blacks who owned land, and the fact that spirituals were already on the wane in certain parts of Mississippi - both of which ran counter to Lomax's assumptions about the Southern black man, Mr. Gordon said.
"That's the biggest difference between Work's assessment of the South and Lomax's evaluations in his own book," Mr. Gordon said. "One documented what was there, the other focused on what he'd expected to find. Lomax was disappointed to discover that blacks owned land, because it didn't conform to his vision of the South." According to the book, Lomax used a photograph of a sharecropper's cabin in his book without giving proper credit to Work.

More on NPR segement on Nemerov & Gordon's study of John Work's work in Lost Delta Found

Adding Notes to a Folklorist's Tunes 2007 Recording Black Culture
TWO years ago, the book “Lost Delta Found” criticized the American folklorist Alan Lomax for giving short shrift to the work of three black researchers with whom he made some of his landmark field recordings in the 1940s. Maybe more important, the book argued that our appreciation of the black roots music of the era would have been greatly enriched had the writings of the researchers reached a wider audience. With the release of “Recording Black Culture,” an album consisting largely of newly unearthed acetates made by one of the collectors, John Work III, we now have the music itself to buttress this claim.

Arlo Guthrie's response to Dave Marsh criticizing Alan Lomax


Remembering Alan Lomax January 13, 1915—July 19, 2002 ~~ Bruce Jackson
7/26/02 writes about Lomax's influence, working with him, and listening to him talk.

"I listened this afternoon to the "All Things Considered" report on Alan Lomax's death, and I find myself thinking instead on his life and contributions. ~~ Alan Jabbour
Alan had many great gifts, and he gave all of us many great gifts as well. I feel blessed by his vision of the role of the documentary media in contemporary culture. He was one of a handful of visionaries who saw that the documentary media were tools not just for observing culture but for recasting and renewing the cultural process itself. And I feel equally blessed by his vision of culture -- a vision that included both cultural interchange and cultural tenacity, that saw culture as both a distinguishing feature and an interconnecting fabric. His love of global science coexisted with his love of the spirit of the globally threatened, and he saw science and technology as forces to harness on behalf of the cultural traditions that crystallize human creativity.
Alan is one of a handful who helped shape the last century and this one. It is a privilege to have known and worked with him."

"He was a great man. ~~ Jonathan Weiss
Without him the world of music and jazz would be much impoverished. His library of Congress recordings of Jelly Roll Morton alone establish his importance and his writings and discoveries make up a large part of the treasury and tradition we can now cherish."


Lomax remembered in the (London) Independent
Alan Lomax Preserver of vanishing musical tradition by Paul Wadey 22 July 2002
Alan Lomax, musicologist: born Austin, Texas 31 January 1915; twice married (one daughter); died Safety Harbor, Florida 19 July 2002.

Alan Lomax played a crucial role in the preservation of the world's musical heritage. He dedicated some 60 years of his life giving "a voice to the voiceless" and putting "neglected cultures and silenced people into the communications chain". Bob Dylan lauded him quite simply as a "missionary".

His field recordings with the likes of Leadbelly, Muddy Waters and Jelly Roll Morton sparked the folk revival of the 1940s and eventually gave shape to rock'n'roll. His advocacy of the music he "discovered", and its dissemination through friends like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and, later, through radio and television, has given it a central position in popular culture. His later work on the folk music of both Europe and the Caribbean helped to underline the close musical relationships that exist between these forms.

Lomax was born in Austin, Texas in 1915. His father, John A. Lomax, was an eminent musicologist whose books Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads (1910) and Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp (1918) did much to preserve a vanishing musical tradition. It seemed natural for Alan to follow in his father's footsteps and so, at the age of 17, he joined his father on an epic 16,000-mile quest across the American South.

With cumbersome recording equipment and a supply of fragile acetates loaded into the back of their car they began perhaps the most important field survey of roots music ever undertaken. They coaxed from strangers songs that had their origins not only in 19th- and 18th-century Europe, but also, in the case of the blues, in West Africa. Musicians were encouraged to talk about the music and to reflect on what it meant to them, thereby creating an important oral history.

The older Lomax's remit was to collect material for the Archive of American Folk Song, established by the Library of Congress in 1928. He and Alan found it wherever rural people gathered together: in Appalachian mountain communities and in the small sharecropping towns of the Mississippi Delta. State penitentiaries, too, proved a potent source of material, said Alan Lomax:
"The prisoners in those penitentiaries simply had dynamite in their performances. There was more emotional heat, more power, more nobility in what they did than all the Beethovens and Bachs could produce."

If many of the prisoners they recorded are, like James "Iron Head" Baker and Mose "Clear Rock" Platt, all but forgotten, the Lomaxes also "discovered" a convicted murderer named Huddie Ledbetter in Angola Penitentiary, Louisiana who would go on to achieve legendary status as the folk-blues musician Leadbelly. They played an important role in securing his parole in 1934 and in 1939 Alan produced the recording sessions that resulted in the disc Negro Sinful Songs, following them a year later with the singer's fine collaboration with the Golden Gate Quartet, The Midnight Special.

In 1935 Alan Lomax travelled with friends to record musicians on the Georgia Sea Islands. Both he and the folklorist Mary Barnicle blackened their faces with walnut juice to avoid unwelcome attention from the local whites.

In 1937 he made his first solo foray into the field, heading for eastern Kentucky. Despite a degree of local hostility that on one occasion saw him attacked by a man with a knife, he recorded over 200 sides there. A telegram from Harlan, Kentucky to Washington in September of that year was characteristic: "I have made so far 32 records, some of them quite marvellous, some of them mediocre, but all necessary."

In 1938 he interviewed extensively the great jazz composer Jelly Roll Morton. These recordings were later issued and Morton's reminiscences formed the basis for a book, Mr Jelly Roll (1950) and later an off-Broadway show, Jelly Roll!. Three years later Lomax recorded three sides by McKinley Morganfield, later to achieve fame as the blues great Muddy Waters.

Lomax's left-wing politics would have made life in America uncomfortable for him during the McCarthy era and he settled for several years in Britain, where a Guggenheim Fellowship enabled him to research English folk song. Over the next few years he also visited Spain and Italy and in 1955 his researches resulted in Columbia Records' landmark 18-volume set World Library of Folk and Primitive Music. A series of broadcasts made by Lomax for the BBC had an undisputed influence on popular music here, particularly on the evolution of skiffle.

By the late Fifties Alan Lomax was back in America and again undertaking fieldwork in the Deep South. He oversaw the first recordings by Mississippi Fred McDowell and in 1959 recorded a group of prisoners, led by James Carter, at the Parchman Penitentiary. Some 40 years later that song, "Po' Lazarus" featured prominently on the award-winning soundtrack of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). He acted as a consultant for the Newport Folk Festivals, all the while showing obvious disapproval of the move by some musicians, Dylan among them, towards electrification.

In the decades leading up to his retirement in 1996, Lomax concentrated increasingly on academic work, much of it while based at Columbia University in New York. He investigated the recurring stylistic and social patterns that he believed could be found in music and dance around the world. In addition, he wrote books ­ his volume The Land Where the Blues Began was named non-fiction title of 1993 by the National Book Critics' Circle and developed a multi-media project, "Global Jukebox", that enables users to make connections between the world's many styles of dance and music.

Another remembrance of Alan Lomax, with some interesting interpretations of his influence, from ABC News

OBIT from the Washington Post

OBIT from the New York Times - need to subscribe

Father and son, John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax made historic contributions to American music. The son died last week at 87, but he and his father left a legacy of recordings that preserved folk, blues and jazz music that might well have disappeared.
No state in the Union should be more grateful to the Lomaxes than Louisiana. From folkies like Leadbelly from Mooringsport, to Cajun musicians recorded on bulky reel-to-reel machines in homes and on back porches throughout south Louisiana, the music preserved by the Lomaxes is an incredibly important part of Louisiana's cultural heritage.
John Lomax's 1910 book "Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads" was a pioneering work in the field of music preservation. Among the famous songs it saved for posterity was "Home on the Range." <snip>

A journey in search of the final resting place of the legendary Louisiana bluesman Lead Belly's final resting place. Set to the song "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" by Lead Belly.


Praise Song for Alan Lomax by Nick Spitzer

The various articles about the life and work of folklorist Alan Lomax (including "A Man of his Time; Voices for All Time" Jon Pareles July 28, 2002) were well deserved and largely appreciated by those who carry on collaborative research and public presentation with traditional artists and communities. However, the description of Lomax's supposed aversion to documenting singular virtuosic performers, and his purported focus on isolated pre- or anti-modern cultures, makes the visionary documentarian seem both hopelessly antiquarian and unable to accept individual artistic brilliance. Lomax realized that isolation often played a passive role in preserving the cultural traditions he revered, but he was hardly an isolationist in his love of advancing artists in his radio programs, recordings and films. Indeed, he wanted traditional performers to be able to compete within the economic and political realities of modern society. In his famous 1970 "Appeal for Cultural Equity," Lomax argued against isolation as a force of community cultural health for perpetuating traditions, and praised such musical crossroads as Nashville of the 1930s and 40s and New Orleans both past and present. From the latter Caribbean-inflected polyglot port city, came one of the greatest documents Lomax created: the Library of Congress oral history of jazz piano genius and composer Jelly Roll Morton.

Mr. Pareles oddly suggests that Alan Lomax often focused on less skillful musicians as better "generic" representatives of the varied cultures he sought to document. Yet this ignores the vast number of unknown, but excellent by any standard, performers he recorded like Blue Ridge mountain guitarist and singer E.C. Ball, or Mississippi prison chain-gang song leader Ervin Webb. Many of the communal art forms Lomax recorded in-situ--such as Bahamian children's ring play, Louisiana Creole jur chants, or Tuscan lullabies--were simply not meant to be judged as the expressions of "brilliant maverick" performers. Still, the pioneering folklorist's work with Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, and Jelly Roll alone meets the "great artist" standard of cultural history that was subtly invoked by the writer. In the end, Lomax himself was a brilliant maverick to document, preserve and project all these voices--now famous, or still anonymous--as part of "the big river of oral tradition," from which thankfully we can still drink.

About Nick Spitzer - LISTEN TO NPR:
- Dr. Nick Spitzer - Host and Producer, American Roots (public radio series)
Professor, Folklore and Cultural Conservation, Professor of folklore at the University of New Orleans, produces and hosts the syndicated public radio music program:
American Routes
Public Radio International
1118 Royal St
New Orleans LA 70116
- Pete Seeger - Folksinger
- Worth Long - Co-producer of the documentary film The Land Where the Blues Began

CD Tracks from Lomax Collection on Rounder:

Leadbelly: Rounder CD 1099 Go Down Hannah :Tracks #5 Leadbelly on the Blues (interview) & #11 John Hardy learned from Woody Guthrie

Rounder CD 1044: Midnight Special :Track #1 & 2: Goodnight Irenerecorded in Angola by John and Alan Lomax.

Woody Guthrie: Rounder CD 1041/2/3: Library of Congress RecordingsTrack #1 (CD1): Conversation & intro to recording./Track #5 (CD1): Short music, some conversation

Jelly Roll Morton: Solo Art SACD 11 Track # 2 Boyhood Memories†& Track #6 Tiger Rag/Panama (begins:Jazz started in New Orleans…)

Field Recordings:
French Louisiana: Rounder CD 1843 Cajun and Creole Music†Track #14: J'ai fait tout le tour du pays

Caribbean: Rounder CD 1716 : Brown Girl in the Ringâ€: Track #2: Brown Girl in the Ring #20: Miss Lucy Has Some Fine Young Ladies

Blues/ African American
Muddy Waters: from Deep River of Song Rounder 1825 Track 7: “I Be Bound To Write You Recorded in 1942

Son House: from “Deep River of Song Rounder 1825: Track 14: Low Down Dirty Dog Blues

Fred McDowell: Rounder CD 1718 Track #2 Highway 61 Blues Recorded in September, 1959

Sonny Terry: from Deep River of Song Rounder Track #27 Worried Blues recorded at the Library of Congress 1942 singing/harmonica

Georgia Sea Islands/Bessie Jones: from Voices from the American South Rounder 1701 Track# 1:†O Dayâ€

Old Time/Ballads:
Texas Gladden: from Texas Gladden: Ballad Legacy Rounder 1800 Track# 14:Barbara Allen & Track# 23: Ellen Smith (with her brother Hobart Smith)

Hobart Smith: from Voices from the American South, Rounder 1800 Track #2 Katy went a Fishin.. or Track 2 Drunken Hiccupsâ on Hobart Smith Rounder CD 1799

World Music Field Recordings

Italy: From Collection Sampler Rounder 1700: Track 23 Stornell Recorded in Tuscany, 1954 (singer tells everyone to be silent before he starts singing-good crowd noise)

Ireland: From World Library of Folk & Primitive Music Rounder 1742: Track 32: Mrs. McGrath (song)­Seamus Ennis (who collected alongside Alan in Ireland in 1951) or Track 34: The Bucks of Oranmore (Seamus shows his uilleann pipe playing)

England: From World Library of Folk & Primitive Music Rounder 1741: Track 5: Jim and Bob Copper “The Contented Country Lad recorded in Sussex in 1951.

Alan Lomax Singing: From There is No Eye-John Cohen Collection SFW 40091 Track #20 Love My Darling

Oh Brother Soundtrack: Track #1 Po Lazarus James Carter & the Prisioners (field recording) (with original Lomax from Southern Journey: Bad Man Ballads: Songs of Outlaws and Desperados track #17) Track #10 Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch (actual field recording of this on Southern Journey, vol. 3: Hwy 61Rounder CD)

Fast Facts:

Curriculum Vitae


Henrietta Yurchenco, who is a contemporary of Alan's and like him was among the earliest folklorist-broadcasters of folk music on radio.

Thanks to men like Alan Lomax and Dick Waterman, Son House left a recorded legacy that spans over five decades. Blues Hall of Fame

Funeral Services for Alan Lomax were on Tuesday July 23, 2002
Vinson Funeral Home
456 East Tarpon Avenue
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Viewing was from 3-5PM, Funeral Service 5-6PM
In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be made to:
The Blues Music Foundation for the Willie Moore Fund
c/o Experience Music Project
2901 3rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
For more information, contact: Jeff Walker, or Ryan McMaken

From Matthew Barton at the LOC.GOV
When he published "The Land Where the Blues Began" in 1993, did Alan Lomax deny proper credit to John Work III and Samuel C. Adams, two of his African- American collaborators from Fisk University in the 1940s, as Robert Gordon and Bruce Nemerov assert in the book "Lost Delta Found"? In his assessment, Marc Weingarten [Book Says Alan Lomax Neglected Black Scholars, New York
Times August 29, 2005] omits that Lomax's book is not a history of the 1941- 1942 Coahoma County project, but rather a commentary on the blues, their meaning and history and his experience of the culture that created them from 1933 to 1978. Less than half of the book deals with Coahoma.
Work is mentioned three times in "The Land Where the Blues Began," Adams once. Lomax's book however is a highly personal and idiosyncratic one which draws primarily on his own fieldwork. How many times should Work and Adams have been mentioned? Lewis Wade Jones, the third collaborator from Fisk, is prominent in the Coahoma chapters. This reflects Lomax's stated admiration of Jones, with whom he collaborated again in 1963, as well as the fact that Jones spent far more time in the field with Lomax than Work or Adams.
Surviving correspondence here at the Library of Congress, some of it available online, shows Lomax writing in support of John Work. When he included their recordings of Muddy Waters in a 1942 compilation that he edited, Lomax shared credit for them with Work. In 1943, when B.A. Botkin, Lomax's successor at the Library of Congress, included the Nashville
Washboard Band's performance of “Soldier's Joy ” on another anthology, Lomax and Work shared credit, and Work helped the Library obtain the permission of the performers. In 1962, When the Library of Congress released “Negro Blues and Hollers,” an album drawn from the 1941-42 fieldwork, editor Marshall Stearns credited Lomax, Jones and Work for all of the recordings, noting that it was part of a joint Library of Congress - Fisk University project.
Lomax never concealed the identities of his fieldwork collaborators. Their names appeared with his in the Library of Congress' print publications and record releases. They include Zora Neale Hurston, Mary Elisabeth Barnicle, Helen Hartness Flanders, Ivan Walton, George Pullen Jackson, and his wife Elizabeth Harold Lomax.
Echoing Gordon and Nemerov, Weingarten says that “Lomax wrote extensively of the Coahoma Country trips in The Land Where the Blues Began, published long after the fact, but the research was supposed to have been jointly published some five decades earlier.” Letters from 1943 between John Work, Thomas Jones (president of Fisk University), B.A. Botkin (Lomax's successor at the Archive of American Folksong)and Harold Spivacke (head of the Library of Congress' Music Division) discuss the manuscript submitted by Work and in what form it could be published. Lewis Jones and Alan Lomax were unavailable because of World War II. At times, there is considerable confusion as to manuscript's whereabouts, and there may have been more than one version. In a June, 1943 letter to B.A. Botkin, John Work requests that he be sent copies of work he left with Botkin and Spivacke, as his originals were missing. In later years, it seems to have been agreed that Work, Lomax and others were free to pursue their own leads with the material. In a 1949 letter to Rae Korson at the Library of Congress, Lomax reports visiting Fisk and says that he has the “blessing of the Fisk faculty” to use material from the study in his new book.. His purpose in writing to Korson was to find survey material that could not be found at Fisk. In 1958, John Work wrote to Harold Spivacke to make certain that the Library would have no objection to the publication of his Coahoma work, and Spivacke encouraged him to proceed.
The manuscript located by Robert Gordon at the Lomax office was a mimeographed copy, not an original. Apart from that original, there may have been other copies. In his 1958 letter to Harold Spivacke, John Work gives no indication that he does not have a copy of the manuscript. Gordon and Nemerov note in their introduction to Lost Delta Found that John Work's papers were placed in a commercial storage facility in the 1980s, where they were later lost. It seems plausible that the manuscript - perhaps even a 1958 revision of it - was among them.

Matthew Barton
American Folklife Center
Library of Congress
Washington, DC

NB: I worked for Alan Lomax in the 1980s and 1990s, and on the Alan Lomax Collection CD series from 1996 to 2002

The opinions expressed in this message are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Library of Congress.


Jeff Titon : " Work's manuscript itself, which IMHO is truly significant and has finally seen the light of day. (How many pieces of scholarship 60 years old do presses publish? Vanderbilt University Press is to be commended for doing so.)
Work was the first to transcribe, analyze, and describe the music of Son House, Muddy Waters, etc. and he did this in the early 1940s. If this material had been available to me when I was writing EARLY
DOWNHOME BLUES in the late 1960s it would have been immensely helpful. His descriptions and observations of Black music in the Delta shortly before WW2 are invaluable also in that they come from the perspective of a Black musicologist who had studied with the comparative musicologist George Herzog at Yale (and Herzog had studied with Hornbostel) -- thus he was interested in a variety of music, not just the oldest forms, and not just the "best," in order to get an overall portrait of a people's community music."

Robert Cogswell ~ [... "I agree with Jeff that it's the accomplishments of John Work III that are really at issue with this book. He was an African American scholar decades before the Civil Rights movement, struggling to attain support for his folkore work in a small institution that really didn't get what he was up to, dealing in the context of his day with various powers that be, all of whom had other agendas. The historical fact, now documented, is that his work became obscured and his manuscript didn't get published."]


Alan and John Lomax hold the copyright for a lot of African American vernacular music. Go to and search by
"Songwriter/Composer" after entering LOMAX ALAN, 884 titles come back, 693 under John Lomax.

The Sonic Journey of Alan Lomax: Recording America and the World
American Routes follows the journeys made by folklorist Alan Lomax as he documented the diversity of the traditional music of America, in the face of what he felt was the increased threat by popular "monoculture." We'll look into Lomax's work as a sound recordist, cultural theorist, radio host and shaper of 20th century pop culture through his discoveries. Weekly updates on American Routes programs send us your e-mail address to