American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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Woody Guthrie

Sonny Terry, Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Lomax, Lillie Mae Ledford, Alan Lomax play and sing folk music
Sonny Terry, Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Lomax (foreground), Lilly Mae Ledford, and Alan
Lomax
play and sing folk music at a cast party for The Martins and the Coys, 1944
Contemporary gelatin silver print from original negative


Letter from Woody Guthrie to Alan Lomax. September 17, 1940
American Folklife Center (224.2a,b)

Alan Lomax played an active role in the folk movement of the 1930s-1950s. He conducted field work with his wife Elizabeth and his father, John A. Lomax, and with other documentarians such as Zora Neale Hurston. He made some of the first recordings and corresponded actively with important performers such as Woody Guthrie. His correspondence with Guthrie, for example, provided unique insight into the artist best-known for his role as “Dust Bowl balladeer.” In the early 1940s, Guthrie had moved to New York and was pursuing broadcasting and recording careers, meeting artists and social activists and gaining a reputation as a talented and influential songwriter and performer.

 

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