Last week the Library of Congress announced that it would offer an online archive of the collected papers of folklorist Alan Lomax and his family. This incredible resource will offer the field notes, logs and indexes related to these unparalleled collections, Alan’s radio scripts and his unpublished “Big Ballad Book,” as well as correspondence and academic and creative writing projects. The LOC will provide subject guides to assist researchers as they explore this unique corpus.
Thanks to an ongoing commitment to the study of American music, the UI Press publishes a number of works on Alan Lomax, his family, and his work.
Sing It Pretty: A Memoir, by Bess Lomax Hawes
Bess Lomax Hawes grew up with her father John Lomax and brother Alan in the first family of American folk music. Her compelling account of the folk music boom of the mid-twentieth century and the development of “public-sector” folklore includes family friends Ruth Crawford Seeger and Carl Sandburg, fellow Almanac Singers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and other musicians and artists. Her own creative endeavors as producer of American folk culture films, author of academic papers and books, and coauthor of the Kingston Trio’s hit “MTA Song” (adapted from a local political campaign jingle) unfold alongside her legacy of teaching guitar and American folk music to thousands of adults in Los Angeles. Whether teaching anthropology to college students, learning singing games from the Georgia Sea Island Singers, or directing the Folk and Traditional Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, Hawes remains dedicated to preserving and appreciating the traditional cultures of America.
Best known as a pioneer American folklorist, John Lomax was also a successful businessman, an influential educator, and the patriarch of an extended family of artists, performers, and scholars whose work continues to influence American culture on both popular and academic levels. Last Cavalier is the never-before-told story of Lomax’s long career, as colorful and lively as it was controversial. It follows his winding life journey collecting folksongs on horseback, selling stocks and bonds, serving at major universities, lecturing nationwide, publishing a dozen books, legitimizing comparative literature as an academic discipline, and playing a major role in developing the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song, now part of the American Folklife Center.
Providing insight into white folklorists’ relationships with black consultants, The Man Who Adores the Negro describes the personal experiences of both fieldworkers and ethnographic subjects. Patrick B. Mullen explores how folklorists such as John Lomax, Newbell Niles Puckett, Alan Lomax, and Roger Abrahams have been implicated in creating the popular concept of African Americans as folk and how this depiction has created notions of blackness and whiteness. Illuminating central aspects of African American cultural history, the author discusses a wide range of folklore that includes work songs, hymns, voodoo rituals, animal tales, jokes, toasts, and children’s games and rhymes.