Biographies Charles Lafayette Todd (1911-2004)

Charles L. Todd with recording equipment as boys and men look on.
Charles "Lafe" Todd at the recording machine surrounded by a group of Mexican boys and men. Photo by Robert Hemmig, El Rio F.S.A. Camp, California, 1941. AFC 1985/001: P16.

Charles Lafayette "Lafe" Todd was born in rural western New York State on December 9, 1911. As an undergraduate studying English literature at Hamilton College, he developed an interest in the Elizabethan ballad. In the late 1930s, while doing graduate work at Columbia University in New York City, Todd lived in Greenwich Village, where he frequented the Village Vanguard, a local night spot. Here he made the acquaintance of Alan Lomax (who later facilitated the Archive of American Folk Song's support of the Todd/Sonkin collecting expedition), along with other notables of the day such as Woody Guthrie, Huddie Ledbetter (better known as "Leadbelly"), Burl Ives, John Jacob Niles, and Frank M. Warner.

During the same period, Todd met Robert Sonkin. They were both working in the Department of Public Speaking at the City College of New York, where Todd taught for three years. They undertook their documentation in the California FSA camps during their summer vacations in 1940 and 1941. In addition to the ethnographic research Todd did with Sonkin in California, he also documented folk music in upstate New York and parts of New Jersey. In 1942, he returned to California and worked as associate manager of the Tulare Migrant Camp in Visalia. During his tenure at Tulare many of the men in camp left to assist in the war effort, either by working in the San Francisco shipyards or by joining the military. He was later drafted into the army and went to work as a public relations officer. After the end of World War II, Todd continued his career in public relations, including a stint with the State Department doing Cold War broadcasts to Iron Curtain countries. He later went on to become president of an international public relations firm in New York. Ultimately, he became head of the Speech and Communications Department at his alma mater, Hamilton College. Todd and Sonkin once again undertook a collaborative project during this period, which resulted in a book titled Alexander Bryan Johnson: Philosophical Banker, published in 1977.

Todd retired in 1977 with his wife Claire in Vero Beach, Florida, where he died on August 2, 2004.

Resources

Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection (American Memory).

About this Item

Title
Charles Lafayette Todd (1911-2004)
Contributor Names
Todd, Charles L.
Subject Headings
-  Traditional and Ethnic Songs and Music
-  Songs and Music
-  Biographies
Genre
biography
Online Format
image
online text
Description
Biography. Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection (American Memory).
Additional Metadata Formats
METSXML Record

Rights & Access

Rights assessment is your responsibility.

The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as holders of publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. There may be content that is protected as "works for hire" (copyright may be held by the party that commissioned the original work) and/or under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.

Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permission ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Users should consult the bibliographic information that accompanies each item for specific information. This catalog data provides the details known to the Library of Congress regarding the corresponding items and may assist users in making independent assessments of the legal status of these items as related to their desired uses.

Items included here with the permission of the rights holders are indicated as such in the bibliographic record for each item.

In some cases, the Library was unable to identify a possible rights holder and has elected to place some of those items online as an exercise of fair use for strictly non-commercial educational uses. The Library of Congress would like to learn more about these materials and would like to hear from individuals or institutions that have any additional information or know of their history. Please contact:  Performing Arts Reading Room.

Suggested credit line: Library of Congress.

More about Copyright and other Restrictions

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Todd, Charles L. Charles Lafayette Todd 1911 to 2004. Online Text. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200196576/. (Accessed September 26, 2017.)

APA citation style:

Todd, C. L. Charles Lafayette Todd 1911 to 2004. [Online Text] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200196576/.

MLA citation style:

Todd, Charles L. Charles Lafayette Todd 1911 to 2004. Online Text. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200196576/>.