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Selected Resources

Books, Essays, and Audio Recordings on Laborlore

Books and Articles

  • Albers, Patricia. 1983. "Sioux Women in Transition: A Study of their Changing Status in Domestic and Capitalist Sectors of Production," in Patricia Albers and Beatrice Medicine, eds., The Hidden Half: Studies of Plains Indian Women. Boston: University Press of America: 175-236.

  • Chetkovich, Carol. 1997. Real Heat: Gender and Race in the Urban Fire Service. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

  • Green, Archie. 1994. "Putting Laborlore to Work," in Archie Green, Wobblies, Pile Butts And other Labor Heroes: Laborlore Explorations. Champaign: University of Illinois Press: 13-34.

  • Green, Archie. 2006. "Perambulating Scrapbooks and Saloon-Sawdust Sifters: Ghosts Along the Labor/Material/Culture Trail," in Robert McCarl, ed. Lessons of Work: Contemporary Explorations of Work Culture, Special Issue of Western Folklore.

  • Hufford, Mary, ed. 1994. Conserving Culture: A New Discourse on Heritage. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.

  • Ives, Edward D. 1988. George Magoon and the Down East Game War. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.

  • Johnson, Paula, ed. 1988. Working the Water: The Commercial Fisheries of Maryland's Patuxent River. Charlotte: University Press of Virginia.

  • Jones, William P. 2005. The Tribe of Black Ulysses: African-American Lumber Workers In the Jim Crow South. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

  • Kodish, Debora. 1986. Good Friends and Bad Enemies: Robert Winslow Gordon and the Study of American Folksong. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

  • Leary, James P. 1999. Wisconsin Folklore. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

  • Limón, José E. 1994. Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

  • McCarl, Robert S. 2006. "Lessons of Work and Workers," forword to Robert McCarl, ed. Lessons of Work: Contemporary Explorations of Work Culture, Special Issue of Western Folklore.

  • Oxfam America. 2004. Like Machines in the Field: Workers Without Rights in American Agriculture. Research Report. Boston: Oxfam America.

  • Peña, Manuel. 1985. The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-Class Music. Austin: University of Texas Press.

  • Sider, Gerald. 2003. Between History and Tomorrow: Making and Breaking Everyday Life in Rural Newfoundland. Toronto: Broadview Press.

For lists of earlier books and articles related to labor songs from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, see:

Audio Recordings

Musical anthologies featuring songs of labor, work, and life drawn from AFC's ethnographic collections have been issued on CD by Rounder Records and are available for sale from Rounder Records and the Library of Congress Sales Shop. Select the link to go to the Rounder Records or Library of Congress Sales Shop online catalog (as indicated).

  • ROUN1501 -- Negro Blues and Hollers (1996)

    "The most significant [field] recordings in 1941 were those made in Mississippi by Alan Lomax, John W. Work and Lewis Jones, which form part of a collaboration between the Library of Congress and Fisk University. . . ." -- John Crowley. Alan Lomax, the preeminent folksong collector of the 20th century, himself remarked: "I knew this was to be my last song-collecting jaunt before the army got me, maybe the last time I would ever hear the alley blues and the hallelujah spirituals that I believe are the best art our country has produced."

  • ROUN1502 -- Songs and Ballads of the Anthracite Miners (1996)

    This compilation of anthracite mining ballads documented by George Korson ("the folklorist of the coal fields") presents a pioneering work in occupational folklore. Recorded on location in the hard-coal region of Pennsylvania as part of the Library of Congress' first post-World War II expedition, these performances preserve survivors of a minstrelsy which, like a seam of coal, ran through the mining life in the latter half of the twentieth century.

  • ROUN1508 -- Railroad Songs and Ballads (1997)

    Recorded by sixteen different collectors between 1936 and 1959, this collection includes songs about the construction of the railroad and railroading as craft, as well as songs that tap the symbolic significance of the train. Train calls, track-lining chants, stories of famous train wrecks, and instrumental train imitations are joined by spirituals using train imagery and folk descendants of popular compositions about the railroad.

  • ROUN1510 -- Afro-American Spirituals, Work Songs, and Ballads (1998)

    These powerful performances, recorded between 1933 and 1939 by pioneering collector John A. Lomax, showcase African-Americans at work and in worship. Traveling for the Library of Congress across the rural south, Lomax captured voices that, speaking from the past, evoke the deep and abiding cultural values of the African American tradition.

  • ROUN1512 -- Cowboy Songs, Ballads, and Cattle Calls from Texas (1999)

    With two exceptions, all of the selections on this compact disc were recorded on portable equipment by John A. Lomax, the first and greatest collector of the cowboy songs of the West. Recorded as they were actually sung in the cow country of Texas, the performances include such classic cowboy songs as "Goodbye, Old Paint," "The Zebra Dun," "The Dying Ranger," and "The Streets of Laredo."

  • ROUN1517 -- Negro Work Songs and Calls (1999)

    This classic album of field recordings from the 1930s and 1940s captures the imaginative call-and-response work songs of Southern prison camps, the soulful proto-blues of cornfield hollers, the creative energy of track-lining songs used by Southern railroad crews, and the calls used to sound the river depth on Mississippi riverboats (including the traditional sounding call "mark twain"). Also included are boat-launching songs featuring the sponge-fishing communities of the Bahamas.

  • ROUN1522 -- Songs and Ballads of the Bituminous Miners (2002)

    This album of mining songs, documented in 1940 by folklorist George Korson, presents the performances of bituminous (soft coal) miners, from the time before automation drastically changed the way their work was done. These songs and ballads, recorded in remote and isolated places in AlSeptember 1, 2011 West Virginia, reflect occupational folkways that date back to the early nineteenth century, both in this country and abroad.


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   May 15, 2015
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