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Corridos of the Texas Border Collected by John and Ruby Lomax

On September 15 and 16, 2015, AFC will be featuring a lecture and workshop with Juan Díes, and a and concert with Sones de México Ensemble, presenting the corrido, a type of narrative song native to the Texas-Mexico border region. In honor of these events, I thought I would introduce our readers to some of […]

Rediscovering Lomax: Joshua Clegg Caffery and “I Wanna Sing Right”

During the centennial year of the great folklorist Alan Lomax (1915-2002), we at AFC have been celebrating his legacy in all kinds of ways: digitizing collections, sponsoring performances, encouraging publications, creating web content, designing exhibits…even writing blog posts! One of the things we most loved about Alan was his concern that the field recordings he […]

The Folklore and Folksong of Trains in America, Part Two

This is the second part of a two-part article on the folklore of trains. Part one, focusing on the development of railroads in the United States and related songs and lore can be found here. Part Two: Trains and American Culture The coming of the railroads made profound changes in life and culture in the […]

The Folklore and Folksong of Trains in America, Part One

Part two of this article is available at this link. Part One:  The Development of the Railroads The advent of railroads in the United States is part of the country’s coming-of-age story as an industrial power during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because of this, trains and people associated with the developing railways became […]

Guess Who’s Turning 100?

Whether you’ve been a follower of Folklife Today from the outset, or you’ve only recently joined us, we’d like you to help us celebrate a milestone: this is our 100th post! And what better way to mark that point on our journey than to announce a centennial celebration? So I’m pleased to announce AFC’s 2015 […]

Share Your Photos of Halloween

The following is a post I wrote jointly with Trevor Owens of the Library’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, with input from many colleagues throughout the Library of Congress. Share your photos of Halloween, Día de los Muertos, and related holidays with AFC and the World! #FolklifeHalloween2014 Halloween, All Souls Day, All Saints Day, Día de […]

A Sampler of Luso-Hispanic American Music and Song

The collections of the American Folklife Center reflect a long history of ethnographic interest in Luso-Hispanic American music and song. Much of the early collecting work focused on peoples of the regions that formerly belonged to Spain. In this post I’ll provide a quick overview of the Hispanic-American music in AFC’s online collections. Spanish Songs […]

The Lomaxes’ 1934 French Louisiana Recordings Go Online

The following is a guest post by Joshua Caffery, who was the John W. Kluge Center’s Alan Lomax Fellow until April 2014.  Caffery is a scholar of vernacular traditions in Louisiana, as well as an archivist and a musician. He is the author of Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings, and the […]

Some Songs for Mother’s Day

The tradition of a national celebration of Mother’s Day in the United States grew out of reactions to the aftermath of the Civil War. Poet, suffragist, and author of the lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Julia Ward Howe attempted to unite women in the cause of peace, beginning with her “Appeal to […]

The Life and Times of Boll Weevil

The first time I saw Boll Weevil, He was sitting on a cotton square. The next time I saw Boll Weevil, He had his whole family there. This song about the boll weevil is one of many popularized by Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, Woody Guthrie, and other artists. A version of this most widely known […]