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Alan Lomax, Assistant in Charge

The Library of Congress Letters, 1935-1945

Ronald D. Cohen

Publication Year: 2011

Alan Lomax (1915-2002) began working for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress in 1936, first as a special and temporary assistant, then as the permanent Assistant in Charge, starting in June 1937, until he left in late 1942. He recorded such important musicians as Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Aunt Molly Jackson, and Jelly Roll Morton. A reading and examination of his letters from 1935 to 1945 reveal someone who led an extremely complex, fascinating, and creative life, mostly as a public employee.While Lomax is noted for his field recordings, these collected letters, many signed "Alan Lomax, Assistant in Charge," are a trove of information until now available only at the Library of Congress. They make it clear that Lomax was very interested in the commercial hillbilly, race, and even popular recordings of the 1920s and after. These letters serve as a way of understanding Lomax's public and private life during some of his most productive and significant years. Lomax was one of the most stimulating and influential cultural workers of the twentieth century. Here he speaks for himself through his voluminous correspondence.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. xi-xvi

Alan Lomax’s life spanned much of the twentieth century (1915–2002), and during most of this time he was an active folk song collector and scholar. He has been both praised and criticized. The Rounder Records Alan Lomax Collection, with at least 100 CDs, is only one example of his incredible musical output. He was not only active...

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LETTERS, 1935–1938

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pp. 3-114

In May 1933, at the tender age of eighteen already a fast learner, Alan began traveling and collecting folk songs through the South with his father, John A. Lomax; this was also the start of his connection with the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress.1 John Lomax would become Honorary Conservator of the Archive in September 1933. Alan assisted his father with the publication of their pathbreaking...

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LETTERS, 1939–1940

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pp. 115-198

In late December 1938, Alan requested permission from Harold Spivacke to move temporarily to New York City, mostly to further his studies, as he explained in a draft of this undated letter: I should like to suggest a project to you which I believe will be of interest and value to the Archive of American Folk Song in the Library of Congress. This project is one that I have thought over at considerable...

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LETTERS, 1941–1945

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pp. 199-374

his continuing interest in commercially recorded country music: Would you have the hillbilly department try and locate for me Wade Mainer and his Mountaineers and send me their present address as soon as possible. [ALC]1 He also followed up with a note to...


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pp. 375-398


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pp. 399-414

E-ISBN-13: 9781604738018
E-ISBN-10: 1604738014
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604738001
Print-ISBN-10: 1604738006

Page Count: 480
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 700514152
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