January 14, 2004 Early Folksong Recordings Available Online From American Folklife Center
Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
The American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress has created an online presentation of its 1978 record album "Folk-Songs of America: The Robert Winslow Gordon Collection, 1922-1932," edited by Neil V. Rosenberg and Debora G. Kodish. This online presentation commemorates the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Archive of Folk Culture in 1928 and the appointment of its first head, Robert W. Gordon.
The presentation, available at www.loc.gov/folklife/Gordon/, includes all of the original cuts from the album and features some of Gordon's most engaging field recordings, including sea chanteys from both the East and West coasts; "Old Ninety Seven," sung by Fred Lewey; "Casey Jones," sung by Francis H. Abbot; three songs sung by Bascom Lamar Lunsford; fiddle tunes played by John W. Dillon; a spiritual and a work song sung by Mary C. Mann; and an early ragtime piece, "The Wagon," sung by Ben Harney.
Gordon was a pioneer folksong collector, and his spirit of exploration and openness to the scope of traditional culture have guided the activities of the Folk Archive to this day. This reissue includes commentaries by folklorists Neil V. Rosenberg, Debora Kodish and Joseph C. Hickerson, a former head of the Archive.
This presentation includes all of the photographs and drawings originally published with the album and also adds other photographs from the collection of Gordon's daughter, Roberta Nye, and from Gordon biographer Debora Kodish.
Established in the Library of Congress's Music Division as the Archive of American Folk Song, the present Archive of Folk Culture became part of the American Folklife Center (AFC) in 1978. This album was produced originally to celebrate the Archive's 50th anniversary. The recording honored Robert W. Gordon by reissuing 28 selections of folksongs and music from his field-recorded wax cylinders and discs. As the Archive enters the digital age, it is fitting that this tribute to Gordon be reissued as an online presentation on the AFC Web site.
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American Folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival presentation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The Center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Library in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.