About this Collection

This recording trip is an ethnographic field collection that includes nearly 700 sound recordings, as well as fieldnotes, dust jackets, and other manuscripts documenting a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States. Beginning in Port Aransas, Texas, on March 31, 1939, and ending at the Library of Congress on June 14, 1939, John Avery Lomax, Honorary Consultant and Curator of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the American Folklife Center archive), and his wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax, recorded approximately 25 hours of folk music from more than 300 performers. These recordings represent a broad spectrum of traditional musical styles, including ballads, blues, children's songs, cowboy songs, fiddle tunes, field hollers, lullabies, play-party songs, religious dramas, spirituals, and work songs.

This collection consists of approximately 25 hours of audio recordings on 267 acetate recording discs and 1 linear foot of print materials. The online presentation provides access to 686 audio titles and page images as well as transcribed, searchable text for all the print material in the collection. This includes the 1939 Annual Report for the Archive of American Folk Song, a 4-page trip report, 307 pages of fieldnotes, 57 items of correspondence, 37 song text transcriptions, and the 104 extant dust jackets from the recording discs with handwritten notes.

For more information about related documentary projects undertaken by the Archive of American Folk Song in 1939, see the 1939 Annual Report.

For more information about the collectors, please refer to the biographical essays on John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax.