Abstract

Alan Lomax’s (1915–2002) commitment to ethnography and ethnomusicology was quite single-handedly what preserved much of the American folk, country, and blues musical traditions in the early to mid-twentieth century. First at the Library of Congress from 1937 to 1942, and subsequently on his own, Lomax recorded folksinger Woody Guthrie, blues singers Lead Belly and Muddy Waters, and jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton, among countless others. His manifesto extends Lomax’s philosophy of recording music and the spoken word, adapting that philosophy to cinema and calling for a national ethnographic archive to preserve these films for posterity.

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