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Lomax Family at the American Folklife Center

Lomax Centennial: American Folklife Center Celebrates Alan Lomax's 100th Birthday

About | Events | Blogs and Podcasts | Articles and Essays | Collections | Related Resources

About the Centennial

To mark the centennial birthday of the influential folklorist Alan Lomax (1915-2002), the American Folklife Center presented a year-long series of projects, events, and activities to celebrate the Lomax family's contributions to the preservation and promotion of traditional music and dance and to highlight the depth and diversity of the American Folklife Center’s Lomax family collections.


Alan Lomax in the Caribbean.

Alan Lomax in the Caribbean, 1962.


Events were presented by the American Folklife Center and other cultural organizations across the country, with several initiatives produced in a collaboration between the Center and a partner organization.

"Listen to Our Story": Alan Lomax, Folk Producer / Folk Promoter
June 10, 2015, 12:00 noon-1:00 p.m., Jefferson Building, Library of Congress
Botkin Lecture presented by Nathan Salsburg, Association for Cultural Equity

Documenting Culture in the Twenty-First Century
June 4, 2015, 1:30-6:30 Montpelier Room, Madison Building, Library of Congress
Symposium on documenting and archiving traditional culture today.

Alan Lomax in Italy, 1954-1955
May 5, 2015, 12:00 noon-1:00 p.m., Jefferson Building, Library of Congress
Botkin Lecture presented by Goffredo Plastino, Newcastle University, UK.

"Treasures from the Archive Roadshow: Celebrating Alan Lomax & The Folk Music Collections at the Library Of Congress" at the Brooklyn Folk Festival
April 19, 2015, Brooklyn, New York.

Re-Imaging and Re-Imagining Choreometrics — Symposium
April 16-18, 2015, Library of Congress and College Park, Maryland
Co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center and Department of Graduate Studies in Dance at the University of Maryland, this three-day symposium explores Alan Lomax’s contributions to dance research and theory. The April 16 interview, "Dancing Ireni: Reimaging and Reimagining Alan Lomax's Choreometrics Project," with pioneer choreometrics scholars takes place from 2:00-5:00 in the Mumford Room at the Library of Congress; the April 17-18 symposium is at University of Maryland, College Park.

SXSW Festival
March 17-21, 2015, Austin, Texas
Panel: Alan Lomax at 100: A Centennial Retrospective. March 21, 2015, Austin Convention Center.

Michigan Folksong Legacy: Grand Discoveries from the Great Depression
March 2-October 18, 2015, Heritage Gallery, Michigan State University Museum
Traveling exhibition bringing Alan Lomax's 1938 field trip to life through words, song lyrics, photographs, and sound recordings.

"The Lomax Challenge Stage" at the Folk Alliance International Conference & Camp
February 18-22, 2015, Kansas City, Missouri.

"Happy 100th Birthday Alan Lomax: The Lomax Collections at the Library of Congress"
February 2-28, 2015, Washington, DC
Exhibit of artifacts and documents from the American Folklife Center’s Lomax Family Collections. South Gallery of the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building, Monday - Saturday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm.

Anniversaries 40-50-80: Festivals Acadiens et Creoles, Dewey Balfa at Newport, and Alan Lomax in Louisiana
October 9, 2014, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Academic conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Festival, the 50th anniversary of Dewey Balfa’s appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, and the 80th anniversary of John and Alan Lomax’s collecting trip to Louisiana. The 2014 Festivals Acadiens et Creoles was held October 10-11.

I’ve Rambled This Country Both Early & Late: A Celebration of Kentucky Mountain Music
September 19-20, 2014, Louisville, Kentucky
Two-day celebration marking Alan Lomax’s 1937 collecting trip to the mountains of East Kentucky. The Association for Cultural Equity, in collaboration with the University of Kentucky, Appalshop, and the American Folklife Center, among others, is digitally repatriating invaluable cultural artifacts to repositories across Kentucky.

The 78 Project: Documenting Historic Sound in the Contemporary World
Botkin Lecture Series, September 5, 2014
The 78 Project’s creators have been traveling across the United States recording contemporary musicians on a 1930s Presto disc recorder and filming their journey for an ongoing web series and a recently completed feature film.

Carlos Núñez: Galician Bagpipes and Flutes
Homegrown Concert, August 19, 2014
This concert features the music collected by Alan Lomax in Galicia, Spain, in the 1950s, which is now part of the AFC archive.

Traditional Music of Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings
Presented by Joshua Caffery, Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies, Kluge Center, Library of Congress, December 11, 2013. [webcast]

Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946
Presented by Jim Leary, University of Wisconsin, July 13, 2013. [event flyer (PDF)] [webcast]


Alan Lomax and Texas Gladden.

Alan Lomax and Texas Gladden, Virginia 1959.

Blog, Podcasts & Webcasts

Learn more about Alan Lomax’s life and work from these blogs, podcasts, and webcasts produced by the Library of Congress.


From Folklife Today, blogs about Alan Lomax, John Lomax, and Bess Lomax Hawes.

From the Library of Congress Blog, Inquiring Minds: Alan Lomax Goes North, by Guha Shankar, August 16, 2013.


Alan Lomax and the Soundscapes of the Upper Midwest
This podcast series marks the 75th anniversary of Alan Lomax's historic documentation of music and folklore in Michigan and its lasting impact on our lives today.


Watch Lomax-related webcasts of past concerts, lectures, and other events held at the Library of Congress.

Articles and Essays

About Alan Lomax
During his long and productive career, Alan Lomax undertook important folk music collecting expeditions throughout the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean; recorded hundreds of legendary performers; documented innumerable songs and tunes, many of which have become iconic cultural treasures; wrote scholarly books; and produced popular publications, films, and radio series about performance traditions throughout the world.

Radio Programs and Ballad Operas
Alan Lomax had a long and influential career as a radio writer, producer, and on-air presenter. This essay, from the Association for Cultural Equity, provides an in-depth look at this aspect of his career.


Alan Lomax fieldnotes

Alan Lomax fieldnotes.


Alan Lomax Collection
In March 2004, the American Folklife Center acquired the Alan Lomax Collection, which contains unparalleled ethnographic documentation collected by the legendary folklorist over a period of sixty years.

Lomax Family Collections
In addition to serving as the repository for the Alan Lomax Collection, the American Folklife Center has been associated with the Lomax family since the 1930s. This is a list of more than 120 collections in our archive created by or containing information about the Lomax family (John A. Lomax, Sr.; Ruby Terrill Lomax; John A. Lomax, Jr.; Alan Lomax; and Bess Lomax Hawes).

Lomax Collections Available Online
Many Lomax collections are available online through the Library of Congress website and other external sites.


Alan Lomax at typewriter.

Alan Lomax at typewriter, ca. 1940s.

Related Resources

The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE)
ACE was founded by Alan Lomax to explore and preserve the world's expressive traditions with humanistic commitment and scientific engagement. It remains an active non-profit organization located at the City University of New York’s Hunter College.  ACE’s sound recordings catalog, comprising over 17,400 digital audio files, is available online.

Teacher Resources from ACE
An outstanding collection of lesson plans in music education and pedagogy created by the Association for Cultural Equity, based on Alan Lomax archival material.

Re-Imaging and Re-Imagining Choreometrics
A University of Maryland project reimagining the ways in which the over 3,000 film clips of dances from around the world that comprise part of the Alan Lomax collection at the Library of Congress could be digitized, marked up, analyzed, cross-referenced, and made accessible.

Lomax-Related Publications
A list of publications by and about Alan Lomax and other members of the Lomax Family.

Lomax Iconic Song List
Alan Lomax and other members of the Lomax family are associated with an enormous number of "classic" folk songs and traditional tunes. This list contains some of most widely-known and frequently performed "iconic" pieces that the Lomaxes documented through their field recordings, or increased public awareness of through commercial recordings, publications, radio programs, and concerts.


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   February 12, 2016
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