In 2004 the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress acquired the Alan Lomax Collection, which comprises the unparalleled ethnographic documentation collected by the legendary folklorist over a period of more than 60 years. The acquisition was made possible through an agreement between the American Folklife Center and the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) at New York City's Hunter College and the generosity of Lillian and Jon Lovelace, members of the Madison Council (the Library's private sector advisory group). With this acquisition, the Alan Lomax Collection joined the material that he and his father, John, collected during the 1930s and 1940s for the Library's Archive of American Folk Song, thus bringing the entire collection together for the first time at the Library of Congress.
From the time he left his position as assistant in charge of the Archive of American Folk Song in 1942 through the end of his long and productive career as an internationally known folklorist, author, radio broadcaster, filmmaker, concert and record producer and television host, Alan Lomax amassed one of the most important collections of ethnographic material in the world. The collection, which had been housed at Hunter College in New York City, includes more the 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of motion picture film, 2,450 videotapes, 2,000 scholarly books and journals, hundreds of photographic prints and negatives, several databases and more than 120 linear feet of manuscript materials such as correspondence, field notes, research files, program scripts, indexes and book and article manuscripts.
Included in the collection are sound recordings of traditional singers, instrumentalists and storytellers that were made by Lomax during numerous field trips to the American South, the Caribbean, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Spain and Italy; original video footage shot in the southern and southwestern United States, Washington, D.C., and New York City, that was used as the basis of Lomax's "American Patchwork" television series; as well as videotapes of all the programs in the series; 16mm footage of performances by Howling Wolf, Son House and others during the Newport Folk Festival in 1966; and videotapes of folk dance performances.
The Association for Cultural Equity, at Hunter College, was founded by Alan Lomax in 1983 to research, preserve and disseminate folk traditions. ACE will continue to produce the Alan Lomax Collection compact disc series on Rounder Records and administer rights to repertoire contained in the collection. During the next few years, ACE will work with the American Folklife Center to create databases for the audio, video and film collections, raise funds for preservation and for fellowships and ensure that Lomax's collection remains accessible to researchers and the general public. Toward this end, ACE plans to donate CD and DVD copies of hundreds of hours of Lomax's audio and video recordings to regional libraries in the United States and abroad.