Top of page

A New Piece of History: Alan Lomax’s Lost Notes From Haiti

Share this post:

Alan Lomax records a Haitian drummer during his field trip to Haiti in early 1937. The image is a frame from a moving picture.

There’s been a new discovery and new research into Alan Lomax’s fieldwork in the 1930s! On the John W. Kluge Center’s blog Insights, Antony Stewart, British Research Council Fellow at The Kluge Center, describes a notebook recently discovered by AFC’s Alan Lomax curator, Todd Harvey.  The notebook was used by Lomax during his 1936-1937 field trip to Haiti. Here’s an excerpt of Stewart’s research:


In it, I found a full account of Alan Lomax’s expenses, both official and unofficial, that revealed the extent of the then 21-year-old’s smoking habit, as well as his daily payments to Revolie Polinice, elsewhere described by Lomax as “my professor in Creole and in Haiti, my haggler and my protector, my valet and my companion of all my journeys throughout his world.”

Most striking was a piece of writing, dated December 23rd 1936, that nested in the center pages of the book. These 19 pages documented a trip Lomax made to the Rex Theatre, Port-au-Prince, to watch a play; one that, it appears, he disliked much of. The play, from Lomax’s eyes, was filled with jokes at the expense of the peasantry and their inability to understand the purpose of footwear, (the crowd “howled” with laughter), French-language versions of American pop songs, a complete absence of plot, and a salute to Mussolini in a less-than-subtle endorsement of fascism for Haiti.

Read the full description of this exciting new find at Insights!


  1. In the limited bits of time I’ve been able to spend at the Center going through Alan Lomax’s field notes, I’ve found fascinating insights and revelations on every typescript page. What a great thing to discover that he wrote even more than we thought. A terrific find!.Congratulations, Todd!

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.