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From the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
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The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip is a multiformat ethnographic field collection that includes nearly 700 sound recordings, as well as fieldnotes, dust jackets, and other manuscripts documenting a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States.
Beginning in Port Aransas, Texas, on March 31, 1939, and ending at the Library of Congress on June 14, 1939, John Avery Lomax, Honorary Consultant and Curator of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center), and his wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax, recorded approximately 25 hours of folk music from more than 300 performers.
These recordings represent a broad spectrum of traditional musical styles, including ballads, blues, children's songs, cowboy songs, fiddle tunes, field hollers, lullabies, play-party songs, religious dramas, spirituals, and work songs.
Photographic prints from the Lomaxes' other Southern states expeditions, as well as their other recording trips made under the auspices of the Library of Congress, illustrate the collection, since no photographs from the 1939 Southern States Recording Trip have been identified.
For more information about related documentary projects undertaken by the Archive of American Folk Song in 1939, see the 1939 Annual Report of the Library of Congress.
This presentation is made possible by the generous support of The Texaco Foundation.
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The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.
The 1939 Recording Expedition
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