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Leadbelly and Lomax

For more than 75 years, the Archive of Folk Culture in the Library of Congress has been collecting and preserving American culture in all its varied forms. On March 24, the Library of Congress and its American Folklife Center announced the acquisition the Alan Lomax Collection, one of the most significant folklore collections in the nation's history.

Alan Lomax, [Portrait of Huddie [Portrait of Alan Lomax], 1940. American Folklife Center.

During the 1940s, folklorist Alan Lomax took this photograph of Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter. His connection to Lomax helped him become one of the stars of the folk revival movement in America. Alan Lomax became the Archive of Folk Culture's firstfederally funded staff member in 1936 and served as "assistant in charge." He made collecting expeditions for the Library of Congress in the South, Midwest and New England; produced a seminal series of documentary folk music albums titled "Folk Music of the United States"; conducted interviews with musicians such as Jelly Roll Morton; and, over the years, introduced Washington audiences and radio listeners nationwide to an array of traditional artists.

"Hundreds of Hands Create a Portrait of a Nation" is the story of the archive's first 75 years. It was published in the Library of Congress Information Bulletin. The Information Bulletin reports on the programs, collections, events and policies of the Library and is richly illustrated with materials from every corner of the Library

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American folklife." The center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established at the Library in 1928 as a repository for American folk music. The center and its collections have grown to encompass all aspects of folklore and folklife from this country and around the world.

One of the most far-reaching projects of the center in the past few years has been "Local Legacies," which was conducted during the Library's bicentennial in 2000. Members of Congress and individuals across the nation were involved in the celebration of the Library of Congress Bicentennial and America's richly diverse culture through the Local Legacies program. Almost 1,300 Local Legacies projects -- from all 50 states, the trusts, territories and District of Columbia -- were registered by Congress and are now part of the American Folklife Center's permanent collections. Why not find out which Local Legacies are from your area? The project listing is at [//]

A. Alan Lomax, [Portrait of Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, ca. 1940s. American Folklife Center.

B. [Portrait of Alan Lomax], 1940. American Folklife Center.

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