Manuscript/Mixed Material Image 48 of 1939 Southern Recording Trip Fieldnotes

About this Item

JAL '39

2604 2605 2606

Ramsey State Farm, Camp 4, Otey, Texas

April 23, 1939

After we had recorded the choral parts of the religious drama, The Good Thief, at the home of the Lopez family on a arm near Sugarland, Texas, we drove to the Central State Farm near Sugarland. The Captain had a good dinner served us and assisted Mr. Lomax in trying to locate singers. In previous years Central Farm had “entertained” such singers as Clear Rock and Iron Head, who had made recordings. But this trip was fruitless. The old crowd had scattered, the new boys sang less fewer of the old songs and in performance imitated radio artists. We did not set up the machine. We found about the same situation at the Darrington Farm some thirty miles away,- few singers and these not interested in old songs or the old manner of singing.

Our next stop was at Camp Four of the Ramsey State Farm, where most of the habituals and incorrigibles stay.. With the help of the Captain and some of his guards we located some singers, who were admitted one by one or by small groups into a small office where the recording machine was set up. InOne of these groups included Columbus Christopher, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington,–who sang for us under guard, behind three sets of locks. Just outside this office we could look down on the dormitory room, where Negro convicts were playing cards, reading, talking, singing blues, listening to an exhorter, sleeping. One boy was standing on a barrel as punishment for some minor violation of rules. We saw the boys go in to supper, in a line, both hands on the shoulders of the man in front of him.

Among the boys whom we found there was Iron Head (James Baker) now back “in the line”, old and broken, assigned to the garden squad. He had been paroled from Central Farm by Governor Allred, but after a few months he was sent back for burglary,- “po‘ch-climbin’”. At first he was

About this Item

1939 Southern Recording Trip Fieldnotes
Contributor Names
Lomax, John A. (John Avery), 1867-1948 (Author)
Lomax, Ruby T. (Ruby Terrill) (Author)
Created / Published
Subject Headings
-  Manuscripts
manuscript: fieldnotes, 307 pages
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1939/001: fn0001
Source Collection
John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip (AFC 1939/001)
American Folklife Center
Digital Id
Online Format
online text
IIIF Presentation Manifest
Manifest (JSON/LD)

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A small subset the sound recordings in this collection are not included in this online presentation because there is a strong possibility that there may be underlying rights in musical lyrics or compositions. Researchers with an interest or need to review the entire body of material are encouraged to contact the American Folklife Center: Those song titles not included are:

  • Bull-Cow Blues
  • Don't You Leave Me Here
  • Everybody's Down on Me
  • Little Log Cabin
  • Louise
  • Maria
  • Springtime in the Rockies

Credit line

John and Ruby Lomax 1939 southern states recording trip (AFC 1939/001), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

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

Chicago citation style:

Lomax, John A, and Ruby T Lomax. Southern Recording Trip Fieldnotes. 1939. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

Lomax, J. A. & Lomax, R. T. (1939) Southern Recording Trip Fieldnotes. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Lomax, John A, and Ruby T Lomax. Southern Recording Trip Fieldnotes. 1939. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

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