November 28, 2012 The Southern Journey of Folklorist Alan Lomax Subject of New Publication

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer, Library of Congress (202) 707-0022
Contact: Rachel Salzman, W.W. Norton (617) 487-8660

More than 50 years ago, on a trip dubbed “the Southern Journey,” folklorist Alan Lomax visited Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee, shedding new light on the little-known southern backcountry and the folk and blues music that is now considered uniquely American. Lomax’s camera was a constant companion, and his images of both legendary and anonymous folk musicians complement his famous field recordings.

Published by the Library of Congress in association with W.W. Norton & Company, “The Southern Journey of Alan Lomax: Words, Photographs, and Music” is a new look at the legendary folklorist and his work. The photographs—many previously unpublished—show musicians making music with family and friends at home, with fellow worshippers at church and alongside workers and prisoners in the fields. Discussions of Lomax’s life and career by his disciple and lauded folklorist William Ferris, and a lyrical look at Lomax’s photographs by novelist and Grammy Award–winning music writer Tom Piazza, enrich this valuable collection. An audio CD of many featured musicians accompanies the book. An online preview of the book may be viewed at www.loc.gov/publish/general/alan-lomax.html.

Alan Lomax (1915–2002) was one of the great folklorists and field collectors of folk music of the 20th century, recording thousands of songs throughout the United States and Europe. From 1937 to 1942, he served as assistant in charge of the Library’s Archive of American Folk Song, the precursor to the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress, which was created in 1976 by the U.S. Congress (www.loc.gov/folklife/).

In 2004, the American Folklife Center acquired the Alan Lomax Collection, comprising the unparalleled ethnographic documentation collected by the legendary folklorist over a period of more than 60 years (between his departure from the Library and his death in 2002). 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.

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 his life’s work together for the first time at the Library of Congress.

“The Southern Journey of Alan Lomax,” a 136-page hardcover book with 100 color and duotone images and an audio CD, is available for $35 in bookstores nationwide and through the Library of Congress Shop, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., 20540-4985. Credit-card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557 or www.loc.gov/shop/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 151 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.

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PR 12-217
2012-11-28
ISSN 0731-3527