America's Songs: The Lomax Collection

Expand/Collapse America's Songs: The Lomax Collection


Born in 1915, Alan Lomax was a folklorist who recorded the songs and stories of folk groups across the rural United States, the Caribbean, the British Isles, Europe, and Morocco. Between 1933 and 1942 Lomax traveled throughout rural Kentucky to record songs for the Archive of American Folk Songs at the Library of Congress. The Lomax Kentucky Recordings have been digitized and are now available online. In this collection you will hear a sample of the songs Lomax recorded in Kentucky.

  • I Had Me a Cat | America's Songs: The Lomax Collection

    Between 1933 and 1942 Alan Lomax traveled throughout rural Kentucky to record songs for the Archive of American Folk Songs at the Library of Congress. Among the many types of songs Lomax recorded were a number of children’s songs, some actually sung by children such as “I Had Me a Cat” sung by Little Babe Caldwell in Ashland, KY 1937.

    In the 1930s the recording industry had been underway for well over 20 years. Record companies had exploited folk music by rural musicians, but they focused on recording only the music they saw as having commercial value. Lomax recorded the full breadth of regional traditions, not just the tunes and songs the record companies thought might sell. He recorded unaccompanied ballads, children’s games and lullabies, and topical and protest songs.

    The digitized versions of the Kentucky Lomax recordings are now available through the Berea College Special Collections and Archives at http://lomaxky.omeka.net.

    Grades: 3-5
  • Barbara Allen | America's Songs: The Lomax Collection

    Between 1933 and 1942 Alan Lomax traveled throughout rural Kentucky to record songs for the Archive of American Folk Songs at the Library of Congress. The collection has been digitized and is now available online at http://lomaxky.omeka.net/

    Among the many songs Lomax recorded in Kentucky were eight different versions of the traditional Scottish ballad, “Barbara Allen.” “Barbara Allen” (sometimes called “Barbry Allen,” “Barbry Ellen,” or other variants) is one of the most widely recorded and collected folk songs in the English language. Hundreds of versions have been collected in Scotland, England, Ireland, and North America, including the versions collected by Lomax. The earliest existing mention of the song is from a diary kept by Samuel Pepys in 1666. He refers to hearing the ballad sung at a New Year’s party. The themes of the ballad – unrequited love and tragic death – are timeless.

    Grades: 6-8
  • I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister | America's Songs: The Lomax Collection

    Born in 1915, Alan Lomax was a folklorist who recorded the songs and stories of folk groups across the rural United States. Between 1933 and 1942 Lomax traveled throughout rural Kentucky to record songs for the Archive of American Folk Songs at the Library of Congress.

    In the 1930s the recording industry had been underway for well over 20 years. Record companies had exploited folk music by rural musicians, but they focused on recording only the music they saw as having commercial value. Lomax went right to the communities where the rural folk musicians lived, setting up in homes, grocery stores, schools, and churches to collect music at its source. He recorded unaccompanied ballads, children’s games and lullabies, and topical and protest songs.

    The digitized versions of the Kentucky Lomax recordings are now available through the Berea College Special Collections and Archives at http://lomaxky.omeka.net.

    Grades: 9-12
  • I'm Goin' to Organize, Baby Mine (Part 1 & 2) | America's Songs: The Lomax Collection

    Born in 1915, Alan Lomax was a folklorist who recorded the songs and stories of folk groups across the rural United States. Between 1933 and 1942 Lomax traveled throughout rural Kentucky to record songs for the Archive of American Folk Songs at the Library of Congress.

    In the 1930s the recording industry had been underway for well over 20 years. Record companies had exploited folk music by rural musicians, but they focused on recording only the music they saw as having commercial value. Lomax  went right to the communities where the rural folk musicians lived, setting up in homes, grocery stores, schools, and churches to collect music at its source. He recorded unaccompanied ballads, children’s games and lullabies, and topical and protest songs.

    The digitized versions of the Kentucky Lomax recordings are now available through the Berea College Special Collections and Archives at http://lomaxky.omeka.net.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Kentucky Miner’s Dreadful Fate (part #2) | America's Songs: The Lomax Collection

    Born in 1915, Alan Lomax was a folklorist who recorded the songs and stories of folk groups across the rural United States. Between 1933 and 1942 Lomax traveled throughout rural Kentucky to record songs for the Archive of American Folk Songs at the Library of Congress.

    In the 1930s the recording industry had been underway for well over 20 years. Record companies had exploited folk music by rural musicians, but they focused on recording only the music they saw as having commercial value. Lomax  went right to the communities where the rural folk musicians lived, setting up in homes, grocery stores, schools, and churches to collect music at its source. He recorded unaccompanied ballads, children’s games and lullabies, and topical and protest songs.

    The digitized versions of the Kentucky Lomax recordings are now available through the Berea College Special Collections and Archives at http://lomaxky.omeka.net.

    Grades: 9-12

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