Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Alan Lomax's Massive Archive Goes Online

Alan Lomax (right) with musician Wade Ward during the Southern Journey recordings, 1959-1960

A clip by Joel Rose on NPR this morning caught my attention:

'Folklorist Alan Lomax spent his career documenting folk music traditions from around the world. Now thousands of the songs and interviews he recorded are available for free online, many for the first time. It's part of what Lomax envisioned for the collection — long before the age of the Internet.'

As I listened, I was especially engaged, hearing about Lomax's vision and passion:

'"Alan scraped by the whole time, and left with no money. He did it out of the passion he had for it, and found ways to fund projects that were closest to his heart."'

'Money is still tight. But that never stopped Alan Lomax, and it hasn't deterred Anna Lomax Wood, either. "He believed that all cultures should be looked at on an even playing field," she says. "Not that they're all alike. But they should be given the same dignity, or they had the same dignity and worth as any other. "'

Much of Lomax's Collection is contained at The American Folklore Center at the Library of Congress.  There's a nice write up on Lomax there which describes his life's work and some of his beliefs:

'Alan Lomax believed that folklore and expressive culture are essential to human continuity and adaptation, and his lifelong goal was to create a public platform for their continued use and enjoyment as well as a scientific framework for their further understanding. His desire to document, preserve, recognize, and foster the distinctive voices of oral tradition led him to establish the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), based in New York City and now directed by his daughter, Anna Lomax Wood.'

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