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Guthries, Lomaxes, and Seegers

The “Great Folk Scare” of the 1930s-1950s had few surnames more prominent than Guthrie, Lomax, or Seeger. They were multi-generational families who today continue to practice folk music and illuminate tradition bearers. The American Folklife Center holds archival collections documenting these families and so we have produced guides to aid research access. This blog post explains and introduces the new guides.

Conversation with Nathan Salsburg, Curator at the Lomax Association for Cultural Equity

The American Folklife Center’s partnership with the Association for Cultural Equity dates from the Library’s acquisition of the Alan Lomax collection in 2004. The partnership focuses on creating access to and awareness of Lomax Family collections. The following is a conversation between Todd Harvey and Nathan Salsburg, respective curators from the American Folklife Center (AFC) […]

ETL: Searching the Lomax family papers through the magic of crowdsourcing

“ETL” is a wonderful acronym, a non-word, a nickname for a phrase by which insiders describe a complex process. ETL in the context of digital collections at the Library of Congress is short for “extract, transform, and load.” To a curator working with crowdsourced archival material. “ETL” in an email subject line signals the final step in a process by which an archival collection becomes full-text searchable, the gold standard for access to manuscript materials. In this post we look at the ways in which crowdsourced transcriptions add depth to our understanding of our rich fieldwork collections. We look at a variety of materials, including Alan Lomax’s trips to collect traditional songs and music in Florida and Haiti. We show how Zora Neale Hurston’s fieldwork informed her brilliant novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” providing excerpts from fieldnotes that comport with descriptions in the novel.

Crowdsourcing Transcriptions: “At the Library and in the Field: John and Alan Lomax Papers”

This guest post comes from Todd Harvey, a Reference Specialist and the curator of Lomax collections at the American Folklife Center. To the Librarian of Congress March 21, 1940 Alan Lomax has in Washington with him today and tomorrow a folk singer for whose excellence he vouchers. This singer, Woodie Guthrie by name, is willing […]

John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax papers now online

This is a guest blog post by Todd Harvey, a Reference Librarian and curator of the Lomax collections at the American Folklife Center. The American Folklife Center announces long-awaited digital access to a tranche of Lomax family correspondence. It follows similar treatment for the Bess Lomax Hawes collection and the Alan Lomax collection. Most of […]

Caught My Eye: Keepsakes of Motherhood from Bess Bauman Brown Lomax

Although the Library of Congress is temporarily closed to the public and staff are, as possible, working from home, the work of the Library continues. It is heartening to see that one of the most labor intensive areas of work, putting archival collections online, continues in spite of the precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic. The […]

Bess Lomax Hawes Digital Collection Launches

This is a guest post by reference librarian Todd Harvey, who curates the Lomax family papers at the American Folklife Center. Today, the American Folklife Center announces the launch of the Bess Lomax Hawes (1921-2009) digital collection, now available at this link. A scholar, teacher, performer, writer, and filmmaker, Bess established and stewarded the Folk […]

Podcast: Episode 17, on Transcribing Lomax with By the People, is Ready for Listening!

Episode seventeen of the Folklife Today Podcast (or Season 2, Episode 5) is ready for listening! In the episode, John Fenn and Stephen Winick talk about a campaign called “The Man Who Recorded the World: On The Road with Alan Lomax.” It’s an effort to crowdsource transcriptions Alan Lomax’s fascinating field notes. Through this campaign, you can help out the Library of Congress and music fans worldwide by increasing access to Lomax’s field notes through transcribing and reviewing pages. Anyone can get involved at the link provided in the blog. The podcast and blog feature music from throughout Lomax’s career as well as descriptions of his notes.

Lomax Birthday Challenge!

This guest post from Todd Harvey, AFC reference staff member and Alan Lomax collection curator, is part of a short series related to the Library’s crowdsource platform and the campaign we helped launch in September 2019 focused on the extensive holdings AFC has of Lomax manuscript materials. The American Folklife Center wishes a happy birthday […]