Information

Helen Lomax


Helen Lomax was born in Glasgow. After leaving school she became an office typist.

In 1926 she joined the Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation (APCF), an organisation formed by Guy Aldred. Other members included Jenny Patrick, Rose Witcop, Ethel MacDonald and John Taylor Caldwell.

Lomax campaigned tirelessly against nuclear weapons and as Caldwell pointed out: "When the Americans set up air bases in the United Kingdom after the war she made a placard showing a map of Britain with the words: AMERICA'S LARGEST AIRCRAFT CARRIER, S.S. GREAT BRITAIN, SEVERAL MILLION CHILDREN ABOARD."

Helen Lomax died on 27th April 1960.

Despite her education and her quick mind, Helen Lennox worked in junior positions as office typist, and she donated practically all her earned money to the Group, which she had joined in 1926. When the Americans set up air bases in the United Kingdom after the war she made a placard showing a map of Britain with the words: "AMERICA'S LARGEST AIRCRAFT CARRIER, S.S. GREAT BRITAIN, SEVERAL MILLION CHILDREN ABOARD.

She died while Ethel lay ill, suddenly, without fuss, when the group was too harassed to mourn her and could ill-afford to lose her. Her death took place on April 27th 1960. She was cremated in Maryhill Crematorium, Willie McDougall saying a few last words of tribute.


Born 2 August 1855 to Thomas and Mary Helen Lomax of Grove Park in Yoxford, Suffolk, Lomax joined the Scottish 90th Regiment of Foot as a junior officer aged eighteen in June 1874. In 1877 he went with the regiment to South Africa and participated in the 9th Cape Frontier War, and the latter phase of the Zulu War in 1878, seeing action at Kambula and Ulundi, which secured British victory in the campaign. [1] Returning to Britain with his regiment Lomax was promoted to captain following the Cardwell Reforms which amalgamated his regiment into the Scottish Rifles in 1881. His unit was not called on for service in India or the Boer War and he did not see further action for 36 years. [1] He was promoted to major in 1886, lieutenant-colonel in 1897, and colonel in 1901. In early 1902, he was transferred to a temporary staff posting as Assistant Adjutant General of the 2nd Army Corps from 26 February 1902, [2] [3] an appointment which was made permanent later the same year. [4] In 1904 he was given an operational command, 10th Brigade. He was promoted to major-general in 1908, and in 1910 given command of the 1st Division. [5] This was normally a four-year posting, and in late July 1914 he received notice that he would not be further employed due to his advanced age and lack of military experience. [1]

The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 put all plans of retirement on hold and Lomax was given command of the British Army's 1st Division as part of the Expeditionary Force being dispatched to France under the leadership of Sir General Sir John French. After taking part in the Battle of Mons in August 1914, Lomax commanded the Division through the First Battle of the Marne, and in the counter-attack on the German invasion of the West at the First Battle of the Aisne. His direction of operations was so accomplished that it has been said that he was "the best Divisional General in the early days of the war". [1] On the 19 October 1914 he received notice that he was to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General, and was marked to be given the command of a Corps when one next became available. [1]

1st Battle of Ypres Edit

In late October 1914 the 1st Division was engaged in extremely heavy fighting at the First Battle of Ypres in Belgium, with its headquarters in a chateau at Hooge, recently vacated by General Douglas Haig commanding I Corps. [6] During the course of the battle, at a moment of crisis with 1st Division's line under mounting pressure from a German attack threatening the destruction of 1st Division and I Corps as a whole and a breach of the line being contested, Lomax received an offer from Haig of reinforcements from I Corps rapidly diminishing reserve troop strength being sent up to his sector to shore up its crumbling defences, Lomax refusing by reply, stating: "More troops now only means more casualties, it is artillery fire that is wanted". [7] On 31 October 1914, at the height of the battle, with the Germans launching repeated mass man assaults on the weakening British line, supported by concentrated barrages of fire from their artillery, a meeting took place at the chateau H.Q. between Lomax and his 2nd Division counterpart, Major-General C. C. Monro. An eye-witness at the scene noted that the officers' staff parked along the roadside outside the building provided an obvious target to German artillery spotters seeking targets to call fire down on to. [6] A German aviator is thought to have noticed the gathering and reported it to a German artillery unit, which fired several 5.9" shells at the chateau. Both sides had been targeting chateaux on either side of the line in an attempt to kill senior officers to gain some advantage in the dead-locked battle by this stage. [6] The first shell exploded in the chateau's garden, causing the staff officers at the meeting to go to the windows of the garden room to see the result of the detonation, when the second shell landed in front of them, the blast killing six and seriously wounding Lomax and another officer. [8] A third shell struck an empty part of the house, its owner, Baron de Vinck, narrowly escaping injury from that blast. [9] General Monro had stepped into another room in the building with his Chief-of-Staff just before the shells struck, and survived with minor injuries, [9] however Lomax was seriously wounded and medically evacuated back to England. Major-General David Henderson stepping in to assume command of the 1st Division.

On arrival back in England Lomax was treated in a nursing home in London, where he received palliative care for the next five months before dying of his wounds in his 60th year on the 10 April 1915. His body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, and his ashes were buried at Aldershot Military Cemetery, later to be joined by his wife's under a private headstone. [10]

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle later wrote that Lomax's early death in the war had deprived the British High Command of a talented General, which "was a brain injury to the Army and a desperately serious one." [9]


Contents

Early life Edit

Lomax was born in Austin, Texas, in 1915, [4] [5] the third of four children born to Bess Brown and pioneering folklorist and author John A. Lomax. Two of his siblings also developed significant careers studying folklore: Bess Lomax Hawes and John Lomax Jr.

The elder Lomax, a former professor of English at Texas A&M and a celebrated authority on Texas folklore and cowboy songs, had worked as an administrator, and later Secretary of the Alumni Society, of the University of Texas. [ citation needed ]

Due to childhood asthma, chronic ear infections, and generally frail health, Lomax had mostly been home schooled in elementary school. In Dallas, he entered the Terrill School for Boys (a tiny prep school that later became St. Mark's School of Texas). Lomax excelled at Terrill and then transferred to the Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Connecticut for a year, graduating eighth in his class at age 15 in 1930. [6]

Owing to his mother's declining health, however, rather than going to Harvard as his father had wished, Lomax matriculated at the University of Texas at Austin. A roommate, future anthropologist Walter Goldschmidt, recalled Lomax as "frighteningly smart, probably classifiable as a genius", though Goldschmidt remembers Lomax exploding one night while studying: "Damn it! The hardest thing I've had to learn is that I'm not a genius." [7] At the University of Texas Lomax read Nietzsche and developed an interest in philosophy. He joined and wrote a few columns for the school paper, The Daily Texan but resigned when it refused to publish an editorial he had written on birth control. [7]

At this time he also he began collecting "race" records and taking his dates to black-owned night clubs, at the risk of expulsion. During the spring term his mother died, and his youngest sister Bess, age 10, was sent to live with an aunt. Although the Great Depression was rapidly causing his family's resources to plummet, Harvard came up with enough financial aid for the 16-year-old Lomax to spend his second year there. He enrolled in philosophy and physics and also pursued a long-distance informal reading course in Plato and the Pre-Socratics with University of Texas professor Albert P. Brogan. [8] He also became involved in radical politics and came down with pneumonia. His grades suffered, diminishing his financial aid prospects. [9]

Lomax, now 17, therefore took a break from studying to join his father's folk song collecting field trips for the Library of Congress, co-authoring American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934) and Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936). His first field collecting without his father was done with Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle in the summer of 1935. He returned to the University of Texas that fall and was awarded a BA in Philosophy, summa cum laude, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa in May 1936. [10] Lack of money prevented him from immediately attending graduate school at the University of Chicago, as he desired, but he would later correspond with and pursue graduate studies with Melville J. Herskovits at Columbia University and with Ray Birdwhistell at the University of Pennsylvania.

Alan Lomax married Elizabeth Harold Goodman, then a student at the University of Texas, in February 1937. [11] They were married for 12 years and had a daughter, Anne (later known as Anna). Elizabeth assisted him in recording in Haiti, Alabama, Appalachia, and Mississippi. Elizabeth also wrote radio scripts of folk operas featuring American music that were broadcast over the BBC Home Service as part of the war effort.

During the 1950s, after she and Lomax divorced, she conducted lengthy interviews for Lomax with folk music personalities, including Vera Ward Hall and the Reverend Gary Davis. Lomax also did important field work with Elizabeth Barnicle and Zora Neale Hurston in Florida and the Bahamas (1935) with John Wesley Work III and Lewis Jones in Mississippi (1941 and 42) with folksingers Robin Roberts [12] and Jean Ritchie in Ireland (1950) with his second wife Antoinette Marchand in the Caribbean (1961) with Shirley Collins in Great Britain and the Southeastern US (1959) with Joan Halifax in Morocco and with his daughter. [ citation needed ] All those who assisted and worked with him were accurately credited on the resultant Library of Congress and other recordings, as well as in his many books, films, and publications. [ citation needed ]

Assistant in Charge and Commercial Records and Radio Broadcasts Edit

From 1937 to 1942, Lomax was Assistant in Charge of the Archive of Folk Song of the Library of Congress to which he and his father and numerous collaborators contributed more than ten thousand field recordings. A pioneering oral historian, Lomax recorded substantial interviews with many folk and jazz musicians, including Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Jelly Roll Morton and other jazz pioneers, and Big Bill Broonzy. On one of his trips in 1941, he went to Clarksdale, Mississippi, hoping to record the music of Robert Johnson. When he arrived, he was told by locals that Johnson had died but that another local man, Muddy Waters, might be willing to record his music for Lomax. Using recording equipment that filled the trunk of his car, Lomax recorded Waters' music it is said that hearing Lomax's recording was the motivation that Waters needed to leave his farm job in Mississippi to pursue a career as a blues musician, first in Memphis and later in Chicago. [13]

As part of this work, Lomax traveled through Michigan and Wisconsin in 1938 to record and document the traditional music of that region. Over four hundred recordings from this collection are now available at the Library of Congress. "He traveled in a 1935 Plymouth sedan, toting a Presto instantaneous disc recorder and a movie camera. And when he returned nearly three months later, having driven thousands of miles on barely paved roads, it was with a cache of 250 discs and 8 reels of film, documents of the incredible range of ethnic diversity, expressive traditions, and occupational folklife in Michigan." [14]

In late 1939, Lomax hosted two series on CBS's nationally broadcast American School of the Air, called American Folk Song and Wellsprings of Music, both music appreciation courses that aired daily in the schools and were supposed to highlight links between American folk and classical orchestral music. As host, Lomax sang and presented other performers, including Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, Josh White, and the Golden Gate Quartet. The individual programs reached ten million students in 200,000 U.S. classrooms and were also broadcast in Canada, Hawaii, and Alaska, but both Lomax and his father felt that the concept of the shows, which portrayed folk music as mere raw material for orchestral music, was deeply flawed and failed to do justice to vernacular culture.

In 1940 under Lomax's supervision, RCA made two groundbreaking suites of commercial folk music recordings: Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads and Lead Belly's The Midnight Special and Other Southern Prison Songs. [15] Though they did not sell especially well when released, Lomax's biographer, John Szwed calls these "some of the first concept albums." [16]

In 1940, Lomax and his close friend Nicholas Ray went on to write and produce a fifteen-minute program, Back Where I Came From, which aired three nights a week on CBS and featured folk tales, proverbs, prose, and sermons, as well as songs, organized thematically. Its racially integrated cast included Burl Ives, Lead Belly, Josh White, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee. In February 1941, Lomax spoke and gave a demonstration of his program along with talks by Nelson A. Rockefeller from the Pan American Union, and the president of the American Museum of Natural History, at a global conference in Mexico of a thousand broadcasters CBS had sponsored to launch its worldwide programming initiative. Mrs. Roosevelt invited Lomax to Hyde Park. [17]

Despite its success and high visibility, Back Where I Come From never picked up a commercial sponsor. The show ran for only twenty-one weeks before it was suddenly canceled in February 1941. [18] On hearing the news, Woody Guthrie wrote Lomax from California, "Too honest again, I suppose? Maybe not purty enough. O well, this country's a getting to where it can't hear its own voice. Someday the deal will change." [19] Lomax himself wrote that in all his work he had tried to capture "the seemingly incoherent diversity of American folk song as an expression of its democratic, inter-racial, international character, as a function of its inchoate and turbulent many-sided development." [20]

On December 8, 1941, as "Assistant in Charge at the Library of Congress", he sent telegrams to fieldworkers in ten different localities across the United States, asking them to collect reactions of ordinary Americans to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war by the United States. A second series of interviews, called "Dear Mr. President", was recorded in January and February 1942. [21]

While serving in the army in World War II, Lomax produced and hosted numerous radio programs in connection with the war effort. The 1944 "ballad opera", The Martins and the Coys, broadcast in Britain (but not the USA) by the BBC, featuring Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Will Geer, Sonny Terry, Pete Seeger, and Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, among others, was released on Rounder Records in 2000. [22]

In the late 1940s, Lomax produced a series of commercial folk music albums for Decca Records and organized a series of concerts at New York's Town Hall and Carnegie Hall, featuring blues, calypso, and flamenco music. He also hosted a radio show, Your Ballad Man, in 1949 that was broadcast nationwide on the Mutual Radio Network and featured a highly eclectic program, from gamelan music, to Django Reinhardt, to klezmer music, to Sidney Bechet and Wild Bill Davison, to jazzy pop songs by Maxine Sullivan and Jo Stafford, to readings of the poetry of Carl Sandburg, to hillbilly music with electric guitars, to Finnish brass bands – to name a few. [23] He also was a key participant in the V. D. Radio Project in 1949, creating a number of "ballad dramas" featuring country and gospel superstars, including Roy Acuff, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe (among others), that aimed to convince men and women suffering from syphilis to seek treatment. [24]

Move to Europe and later life Edit

In December 1949 a newspaper printed a story, "Red Convictions Scare 'Travelers'", that mentioned a dinner given by the Civil Rights Association to honor five lawyers who had defended people accused of being Communists. The article mentioned Alan Lomax as one of the sponsors of the dinner, along with C. B. Baldwin, campaign manager for Henry A. Wallace in 1948 music critic Olin Downes of The New York Times and W. E. B. Du Bois, all of whom it accused of being members of Communist front groups. [25] The following June, Red Channels, a pamphlet edited by former F.B.I. agents which became the basis for the entertainment industry blacklist of the 1950s, listed Lomax as an artist or broadcast journalist sympathetic to Communism. (Others listed included Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Yip Harburg, Lena Horne, Langston Hughes, Burl Ives, Dorothy Parker, Pete Seeger, and Josh White.) That summer, Congress was debating the McCarran Act, which would require the registration and fingerprinting of all "subversives" in the United States, restrictions of their right to travel, and detention in case of "emergencies", [26] while the House Un-American Activities Committee was broadening its hearings. Feeling sure that the Act would pass and realizing that his career in broadcasting was in jeopardy, Lomax, who was newly divorced and already had an agreement with Goddard Lieberson of Columbia Records to record in Europe, [27] hastened to renew his passport, cancel his speaking engagements, and plan for his departure, telling his agent he hoped to return in January "if things cleared up." He set sail on September 24, 1950, on board the steamer RMS Mauretania. Sure enough, in October, FBI agents were interviewing Lomax's friends and acquaintances. Lomax never told his family exactly why he went to Europe, only that he was developing a library of world folk music for Columbia. Nor would he ever allow anyone to say he was forced to leave. In a letter to the editor of a British newspaper, Lomax took a writer to task for describing him as a "victim of witch-hunting," insisting that he was in the UK only to work on his Columbia Project. [28]

Lomax spent the 1950s based in London, from where he edited the 18-volume Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music, an anthology issued on newly invented LP records. He spent seven months in Spain, where, in addition to recording three thousand items from most of the regions of Spain, he made copious notes and took hundreds of photos of "not only singers and musicians but anything that interested him – empty streets, old buildings, and country roads", bringing to these photos, "a concern for form and composition that went beyond the ethnographic to the artistic". [29] He drew a parallel between photography and field recording:

Recording folk songs works like a candid cameraman. I hold the mike, use my hand for shading volume. It's a big problem in Spain because there is so much emotional excitement, noise all around. Empathy is most important in field work. It's necessary to put your hand on the artist while he sings. They have to react to you. Even if they're mad at you, it's better than nothing. [29]

When Columbia Records producer George Avakian gave jazz arranger Gil Evans a copy of the Spanish World Library LP, Miles Davis and Evans were "struck by the beauty of pieces such as the 'Saeta', recorded in Seville, and a panpiper's tune ('Alborada de Vigo') from Galicia, and worked them into the 1960 album, Sketches of Spain." [30]

For the Scottish, English, and Irish volumes, he worked with the BBC and folklorists Peter Douglas Kennedy, Scots poet Hamish Henderson, and with the Irish folklorist Séamus Ennis, [31] recording among others, Margaret Barry and the songs in Irish of Elizabeth Cronin Scots ballad singer Jeannie Robertson and Harry Cox of Norfolk, England, and interviewing some of these performers at length about their lives. In 1953 a young David Attenborough commissioned Lomax to host six 20-minute episodes of a BBC TV series, The Song Hunter, which featured performances by a wide range of traditional musicians from all over Britain and Ireland, as well as Lomax himself. [32] In 1957 Lomax hosted a folk music show on BBC's Home Service called 'A Ballad Hunter' and organized a skiffle group, Alan Lomax and the Ramblers (who included Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, and Shirley Collins, among others), which appeared on British television. His ballad opera, Big Rock Candy Mountain, premiered December 1955 at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and featured Ramblin' Jack Elliot. In Scotland, Lomax is credited with being an inspiration for the School of Scottish Studies, founded in 1951, the year of his first visit there. [33] [34]

Lomax and Diego Carpitella's survey of Italian folk music for the Columbia World Library, conducted in 1953 and 1954, with the cooperation of the BBC and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, helped capture a snapshot of a multitude of important traditional folk styles shortly before they disappeared. The pair amassed one of the most representative folk song collections of any culture. From Lomax's Spanish and Italian recordings emerged one of the first theories explaining the types of folk singing that predominate in particular areas, a theory that incorporates work style, the environment, and the degrees of social and sexual freedom.

Upon his return to New York in 1959, Lomax produced a concert, Folksong '59, in Carnegie Hall, featuring Arkansas singer Jimmy Driftwood the Selah Jubilee Singers and Drexel Singers (gospel groups) Muddy Waters and Memphis Slim (blues) Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys (bluegrass) Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger (urban folk revival) and The Cadillacs (a rock and roll group). The occasion marked the first time rock and roll and bluegrass were performed on the Carnegie Hall Stage. "The time has come for Americans not to be ashamed of what we go for, musically, from primitive ballads to rock 'n' roll songs", Lomax told the audience. According to Izzy Young, the audience booed when he told them to lay down their prejudices and listen to rock 'n' roll. In Young's opinion, "Lomax put on what is probably the turning point in American folk music . . . . At that concert, the point he was trying to make was that Negro and white music were mixing, and rock and roll was that thing." [35]

Alan Lomax had met 20-year-old English folk singer Shirley Collins while living in London. The two were romantically involved and lived together for some years. When Lomax obtained a contract from Atlantic Records to re-record some of the American musicians first recorded in the 1940s, using improved equipment, Collins accompanied him. Their folk song collecting trip to the Southern states, known colloquially as the Southern Journey, lasted from July to November 1959 and resulted in many hours of recordings, featuring performers such as Almeda Riddle, Hobart Smith, Wade Ward, Charlie Higgins and Bessie Jones and culminated in the discovery of Fred McDowell. Recordings from this trip were issued under the title Sounds of the South and some were also featured in the Coen brothers' 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Lomax wished to marry Collins but when the recording trip was over, she returned to England and married Austin John Marshall. In an interview in The Guardian newspaper, Collins expressed irritation that Alan Lomax's 1993 account of the journey, The Land Where The Blues Began, barely mentioned her. "All it said was, 'Shirley Collins was along for the trip'. It made me hopping mad. I wasn't just 'along for the trip'. I was part of the recording process, I made notes, I drafted contracts, I was involved in every part". [36] Collins addressed the perceived omission in her memoir, America Over the Water, published in 2004. [37] [38]

Lomax married Antoinette Marchand on August 26, 1961. They separated the following year and were divorced in 1967. [39]

In 1962, Lomax and singer and Civil Rights Activist Guy Carawan, music director at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, produced the album, Freedom in the Air: Albany Georgia, 1961–62, on Vanguard Records for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Lomax was a consultant to Carl Sagan for the Voyager Golden Record sent into space on the 1977 Voyager Spacecraft to represent the music of the earth. Music he helped choose included the blues, jazz, and rock 'n' roll of Blind Willie Johnson, Louis Armstrong, and Chuck Berry Andean panpipes and Navajo chants Azerbaijani mugham performed by two balaban players, [40] a Sicilian sulfur miner's lament polyphonic vocal music from the Mbuti Pygmies of Zaire, and the Georgians of the Caucasus and a shepherdess song from Bulgaria by Valya Balkanska [41] in addition to Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, and more. Sagan later wrote that it was Lomax "who was a persistent and vigorous advocate for including ethnic music even at the expense of Western classical music. He brought pieces so compelling and beautiful that we gave in to his suggestions more often than I would have thought possible. There was, for example, no room for Debussy among our selections, because Azerbaijanis play bagpipe-sounding instruments [balaban] and Peruvians play panpipes and such exquisite pieces had been recorded by ethnomusicologists known to Lomax." [42]

Alan Lomax died in Safety Harbor, Florida on July 19, 2002 at the age of 87. [43]

The dimension of cultural equity needs to be added to the humane continuum of liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and social justice. [44]

Folklore can show us that this dream is age-old and common to all mankind. It asks that we recognize the cultural rights of weaker peoples in sharing this dream. And it can make their adjustment to a world society an easier and more creative process. The stuff of folklore—the orally transmitted wisdom, art and music of the people can provide ten thousand bridges across which men of all nations may stride to say, "You are my brother." [45]

As a member of the Popular Front and People's Songs in the 1940s, Alan Lomax promoted what was then known as "One World" and today is called multiculturalism. [46] In the late forties he produced a series of concerts at Town Hall and Carnegie Hall that presented flamenco guitar and calypso, along with country blues, Appalachian music, Andean music, and jazz. His radio shows of the 1940s and 1950s explored musics of all the world's peoples.

Lomax recognized that folklore (like all forms of creativity) occurs at the local and not the national level and flourishes not in isolation but in fruitful interplay with other cultures. He was dismayed that mass communications appeared to be crushing local cultural expressions and languages. In 1950 he echoed anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski (1884–1942), who believed the role of the ethnologist should be that of advocate for primitive man (as indigenous people were then called), when he urged folklorists to similarly advocate for the folk. Some, such as Richard Dorson, objected that scholars shouldn't act as cultural arbiters, but Lomax believed it would be unethical to stand idly by as the magnificent variety of the world's cultures and languages was "grayed out" by centralized commercial entertainment and educational systems. Although he acknowledged potential problems with intervention, he urged that folklorists with their special training actively assist communities in safeguarding and revitalizing their own local traditions.

Similar ideas had been put into practice by Benjamin Botkin, Harold W. Thompson, and Louis C. Jones, who believed that folklore studied by folklorists should be returned to its home communities to enable it to thrive anew. They have been realized in the annual (since 1967) Smithsonian Folk Festival on the Mall in Washington, D.C. (for which Lomax served as a consultant), in national and regional initiatives by public folklorists and local activists in helping communities gain recognition for their oral traditions and lifeways both in their home communities and in the world at large and in the National Heritage Awards, concerts, and fellowships given by the NEA and various State governments to master folk and traditional artists. [47]

In 1983, Lomax founded The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE). It is housed at the Fine Arts Campus of Hunter College in New York City and is the custodian of the Alan Lomax Archive. The Association's mission is to "facilitate cultural equity" and practice "cultural feedback" and "preserve, publish, repatriate and freely disseminate" its collections. [48] Though Alan Lomax's appeals to anthropology conferences and repeated letters to UNESCO fell on deaf ears, the modern world seems to have caught up to his vision. In an article first published in the 2009 Louisiana Folklore Miscellany, Barry Jean Ancelet, folklorist and chair of the Modern Languages Department at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, wrote:

Every time [Lomax] called me over a span of about ten years, he never failed to ask if we were teaching Cajun French in the schools yet. His notions about the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity have been affirmed by many contemporary scholars, including Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann who concluded his recent book, The Quark and the Jaguar, with a discussion of these very same issues, insisting on the importance of "cultural DNA" (1994: 338–343). His cautions about "universal popular culture" (1994: 342) sound remarkably like Alan's warning in his "Appeal for Cultural Equity" that the "cultural grey-out" must be checked or there would soon be "no place worth visiting and no place worth staying" (1972). Compare Gell-Mann:

Just as it is crazy to squander in a few decades much of the rich biological diversity that has evolved over billions of years, so is it equally crazy to permit the disappearance of much of human cultural diversity, which has evolved in a somewhat analogous way over many tens of thousands of years… The erosion of local cultural patterns around the world is not, however, entirely or even principally the result of contact with the universalizing effect of scientific enlightenment. Popular culture is in most cases far more effective at erasing distinctions between one place or society and another. Blue jeans, fast food, rock music, and American television serials have been sweeping the world for years. (1994: 338–343)

carcasses of dead or dying cultures on the human landscape, that we have learned to dismiss this pollution of the human environment as inevitable, and even sensible, since it is wrongly assumed that the weak and unfit among musics and cultures are eliminated in this way… Not only is such a doctrine anti-human it is very bad science. It is false Darwinism applied to culture – especially to its expressive systems, such as music language, and art. Scientific study of cultures, notably of their languages and their musics, shows that all are equally expressive and equally communicative, even though they may symbolize technologies of different levels… With the disappearance of each of these systems, the human species not only loses a way of viewing, thinking, and feeling but also a way of adjusting to some zone on the planet which fits it and makes it livable not only that, but we throw away a system of interaction, of fantasy and symbolizing which, in the future, the human race may sorely need. The only way to halt this degradation of man's culture is to commit ourselves to the principles of political, social, and economic justice. (2003 [1972]: 286) [49]

In 2001, in the wake of the attacks in New York and Washington of September 11, UNESCO's Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity declared the safeguarding of languages and intangible culture on a par with protection of individual human rights and as essential for human survival as biodiversity is for nature, [50] ideas remarkably similar to those forcefully articulated by Alan Lomax many years before.

From 1942 to 1979 Lomax was repeatedly investigated and interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), although nothing incriminating was ever discovered and the investigation was eventually abandoned. Scholar and jazz pianist Ted Gioia uncovered and published extracts from Alan Lomax's 800-page FBI files. [51] The investigation appears to have started when an anonymous informant reported overhearing Lomax's father telling guests in 1941 about what he considered his son's communist sympathies. Looking for leads, the FBI seized on the fact that, at the age of 17 in 1932 while attending Harvard for a year, Lomax had been arrested in Boston, Massachusetts, in connection with a political demonstration. In 1942 the FBI sent agents to interview students at Harvard's freshman dormitory about Lomax's participation in a demonstration that had occurred at Harvard ten years earlier in support of the immigration rights of one Edith Berkman, a Jewish woman, dubbed the "red flame" for her labor organizing activities among the textile workers of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and threatened with deportation as an alleged "Communist agitator". [52] Lomax had been charged with disturbing the peace and fined $25. Berkman, however, had been cleared of all accusations against her and was not deported. Nor had Lomax's Harvard academic record been affected in any way by his activities in her defense. Nevertheless, the bureau continued trying vainly to show that in 1932 Lomax had either distributed Communist literature or made public speeches in support of the Communist Party.

Lomax must have felt it necessary to address the suspicions. He gave a sworn statement to an FBI agent on April 3, 1942, denying both of these charges. He also explained his arrest while at Harvard as the result of police overreaction. He was, he claimed, 15 at the time – he was actually 17 and a college student – and he said he had intended to participate in a peaceful demonstration. Lomax said he and his colleagues agreed to stop their protest when police asked them to, but that he was grabbed by a couple of policemen as he was walking away. "That is pretty much the story there, except that it distressed my father very, very much", Lomax told the FBI. "I had to defend my righteous position, and he couldn't understand me and I couldn't understand him. It has made a lot of unhappiness for the two of us because he loved Harvard and wanted me to be a great success there." Lomax transferred to the University of Texas the following year. [51]

Lomax left Harvard, after having spent his sophomore year there, to join John A. Lomax and John Lomax, Jr. in collecting folk songs for the Library of Congress and to assist his father in writing his books. In withdrawing him (in addition to not being able to afford the tuition), the elder Lomax had probably wanted to separate his son from new political associates that he considered undesirable. But Alan had also not been happy there and probably also wanted to be nearer his bereaved [ citation needed ] father and young sister, Bess, and to return to the close friends he had made during his first year at the University of Texas.

In June 1942 the FBI approached the Librarian of Congress, Archibald McLeish, in an attempt to have Lomax fired as Assistant in Charge of the Library's Archive of American Folk Song. At the time, Lomax was preparing for a field trip to the Mississippi Delta on behalf of the Library, where he would make landmark recordings of Muddy Waters, Son House, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards, among others. McLeish wrote to Hoover, defending Lomax: "I have studied the findings of these reports very carefully. I do not find positive evidence that Mr. Lomax has been engaged in subversive activities and I am therefore taking no disciplinary action toward him." Nevertheless, according to Gioia:

Yet what the probe failed to find in terms of prosecutable evidence, it made up for in speculation about his character. An FBI report dated July 23, 1943, describes Lomax as possessing "an erratic, artistic temperament" and a "bohemian attitude." It says: "He has a tendency to neglect his work over a period of time and then just before a deadline he produces excellent results." The file quotes one informant who said that "Lomax was a very peculiar individual, that he seemed to be very absent-minded and that he paid practically no attention to his personal appearance." This same source adds that he suspected Lomax's peculiarity and poor grooming habits came from associating with the "hillbillies who provided him with folk tunes.

Lomax, who was a founding member of People's Songs, was in charge of campaign music for Henry A. Wallace's 1948 Presidential run on the Progressive Party ticket on a platform opposing the arms race and supporting civil rights for Jews and African Americans. Subsequently, Lomax was one of the performers listed in the publication Red Channels as a possible Communist sympathizer and was consequently blacklisted from working in US entertainment industries.

A 2007 BBC news article revealed that in the early 1950s, the British MI5 placed Alan Lomax under surveillance as a suspected Communist. Its report concluded that although Lomax undoubtedly held "left wing" views, there was no evidence he was a Communist. Released September 4, 2007 (File ref KV 2/2701), a summary of his MI5 file reads as follows:

Noted American folk music archivist and collector Alan Lomax first attracted the attention of the Security Service when it was noted that he had made contact with the Romanian press attaché in London while he was working on a series of folk music broadcasts for the BBC in 1952. Correspondence ensued with the American authorities as to Lomax' suspected membership of the Communist Party, though no positive proof is found on this file. The Service took the view that Lomax' work compiling his collections of world folk music gave him a legitimate reason to contact the attaché, and that while his views (as demonstrated by his choice of songs and singers) were undoubtedly left wing, there was no need for any specific action against him.

The file contains a partial record of Lomax' movements, contacts and activities while in Britain, and includes for example a police report of the "Songs of the Iron Road" concert at St Pancras in December 1953. His association with [blacklisted American] film director Joseph Losey is also mentioned (serial 30a). [53]

The FBI again investigated Lomax in 1956 and sent a 68-page report to the CIA and the Attorney General's office. However, William Tompkins, assistant attorney general, wrote to Hoover that the investigation had failed to disclose sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution or the suspension of Lomax's passport.

Then, as late as 1979, an FBI report suggested that Lomax had recently impersonated an FBI agent. The report appears to have been based on mistaken identity. The person who reported the incident to the FBI said that the man in question was around 43, about 5 feet 9 inches and 190 pounds. The FBI file notes that Lomax stood 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, weighed 240 pounds and was 64 at the time:

Lomax resisted the FBI's attempts to interview him about the impersonation charges, but he finally met with agents at his home in November 1979. He denied that he'd been involved in the matter but did note that he'd been in New Hampshire in July 1979, visiting a film editor about a documentary. The FBI's report concluded that "Lomax made no secret of the fact that he disliked the FBI and disliked being interviewed by the FBI. Lomax was extremely nervous throughout the interview. [51]

The FBI investigation was concluded the following year, shortly after Lomax's 65th birthday.

Alan Lomax received the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan in 1986 a Library of Congress Living Legend Award [54] in 2000 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from Tulane University in 2001. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award in 1993 for his book The Land Where the Blues Began, connecting the story of the origins of blues music with the prevalence of forced labor in the pre-World War II South (especially on the Mississippi levees). Lomax also received a posthumous Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements in 2003. Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax (Rounder Records, 8 CDs boxed set) won in two categories at the 48th annual Grammy Awards ceremony held on February 8, 2006 [55] Alan Lomax in Haiti: Recordings For The Library Of Congress, 1936–1937, issued by Harte Records and made with the support and major funding from Kimberley Green and the Green foundation, and featuring 10 CDs of recorded music and film footage (shot by Elizabeth Lomax, then nineteen), a bound book of Lomax's selected letters and field journals, and notes by musicologist Gage Averill, was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2011. [56]

Brian Eno wrote of Lomax's later recording career in his notes to accompany an anthology of Lomax's world recordings:

[He later] turned his intelligent attentions to music from many other parts of the world, securing for them a dignity and status they had not previously been accorded. The "World Music" phenomenon arose partly from those efforts, as did his great book, Folk Song Style and Culture. I believe this is one of the most important books ever written about music, in my all time top ten. It is one of the very rare attempts to put cultural criticism onto a serious, comprehensible, and rational footing by someone who had the experience and breadth of vision to be able to do it. [57]

In January 2012, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, with the Association for Cultural Equity, announced that they would release Lomax's vast archive in digital form. Lomax spent the last 20 years of his life working on an interactive multimedia educational computer project he called the Global Jukebox, which included 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, and 5,000 photographs. [58] By February 2012, 17,000 music tracks from his archived collection were expected to be made available for free streaming, and later some of that music may be for sale as CDs or digital downloads. [59]

As of March 2012 this has been accomplished. Approximately 17,400 of Lomax's recordings from 1946 and later have been made available free online. [60] [61] This is material from Alan Lomax's independent archive, begun in 1946, which has been digitized and offered by the Association for Cultural Equity. This is "distinct from the thousands of earlier recordings on acetate and aluminum discs he made from 1933 to 1942 under the auspices of the Library of Congress. This earlier collection – which includes the famous Jelly Roll Morton, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Muddy Waters sessions, as well as Lomax's prodigious collections made in Haiti and Eastern Kentucky (1937) – is the provenance of the American Folklife Center" [60] at the Library of Congress.

On August 24, 1997, at a concert at Wolf Trap, Vienna, Virginia, Bob Dylan had this to say about Lomax, who had helped introduce him to folk music and whom he had known as a young man in Greenwich Village:

There is a distinguished gentlemen here who came … I want to introduce him – named Alan Lomax. I don't know if many of you have heard of him [Audience applause.] Yes, he's here, he's made a trip out to see me. I used to know him years ago. I learned a lot there and Alan … Alan was one of those who unlocked the secrets of this kind of music. So if we've got anybody to thank, it's Alan. Thanks, Alan. [62]

In 1999 electronica musician Moby released his fifth album Play. It extensively used samples from field recordings collected by Lomax on the 1993 box set Sounds of the South: A Musical Journey from the Georgia Sea Islands to the Mississippi Delta. [63] The album went on to be certified platinum in more than 20 countries. [64]

In his autobiographical, “Chronicles, Part One,” Dylan recollects a 1961 scene: “There was an art movie house in the Village on 12th Street that showed foreign movies—French, Italian, German. This made sense, because even Alan Lomax himself, the great folk archivist, had said somewhere that if you want to go to America, go to Greenwich Village.” [65]

A partial list of books by Alan Lomax includes:

  • L'Anno piu' felice della mia vita (The Happiest Year of My Life), a book of ethnographic photos by Alan Lomax from his 1954–55 fieldwork in Italy, edited by Goffredo Plastino, preface by Martin Scorsese. Milano: Il Saggiatore, M2008.
  • Alan Lomax: Mirades Miradas Glances. Photos by Alan Lomax, ed. by Antoni Pizà (Barcelona: Lunwerg / Fundacio Sa Nostra, 2006) ISBN84-9785-271-0 . Ronald D. Cohen, Editor (includes a chapter defining all the categories of cantometrics). New York: Routledge: 2003.
  • Brown Girl in the Ring: An Anthology of Song Games from the Eastern Caribbean Compiler, with J. D. Elder and Bess Lomax Hawes. New York: Pantheon Books, 1997 (Cloth, 0-679-40453-8) New York: Random House, 1998 (Cloth).
  • The Land Where The Blues Began. New York: Pantheon, 1993.
  • Cantometrics: An Approach to the Anthropology of Music: Audiocassettes and a Handbook. Berkeley: University of California Media Extension Center, 1976. . With contributions by Conrad Arensberg, Edwin E. Erickson, Victor Grauer, Norman Berkowitz, Irmgard Bartenieff, Forrestine Paulay, Joan Halifax, Barbara Ayres, Norman N. Markel, Roswell Rudd, Monika Vizedom, Fred Peng, Roger Wescott, David Brown. Washington, D.C.: Colonial Press Inc, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Publication no. 88, 1968.
  • Penguin Book of American Folk Songs (1968)
  • 3000 Years of Black Poetry. Alan Lomax and Raoul Abdul, Editors. New York: Dodd Mead Company, 1969. Paperback edition, Fawcett Publications, 1971.
  • The Leadbelly Songbook. Moses Asch and Alan Lomax, Editors. Musical transcriptions by Jerry Silverman. Foreword by Moses Asch. New York: Oak Publications, 1962.
  • Folk Songs of North America. Melodies and guitar chords transcribed by Peggy Seeger. New York: Doubleday, 1960.
  • The Rainbow Sign. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pierce, 1959.
  • Leadbelly: A Collection of World Famous Songs by Huddie Ledbetter. Edited with John A. Lomax. Hally Wood, Music Editor. Special note on Lead Belly's 12-string guitar by Pete Seeger. New York: Folkways Music Publishers Company, 1959.
  • Harriet and Her Harmonium: An American adventure with thirteen folk songs from the Lomax collection. Illustrated by Pearl Binder. Music arranged by Robert Gill. London: Faber and Faber, 1955. . Drawings by David Stone Martin. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pierce, 1950.
  • Folk Song: USA. With John A. Lomax. Piano accompaniment by Charles and Ruth Crawford Seeger. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pierce, c.1947. Republished as Best Loved American Folk Songs, New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1947 (Cloth).
  • Freedom Songs of the United Nations. With Svatava Jakobson. Washington, D.C.: Office of War Information, 1943. . With John A. Lomax and Ruth Crawford Seeger. New York: MacMillan, 1941.
  • Check-list of Recorded Songs in the English Language in the Archive of American Folk Song in July 1940. Washington, D.C.: Music Division, Library of Congress, 1942. Three volumes.
  • American Folksong and Folklore: A Regional Bibliography. With Sidney Robertson Cowell. New York, Progressive Education Association, 1942. Reprint, Temecula, California: Reprint Services Corp., 1988 (62 pp. 0-7812-0767-3).
  • Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly. With John A. Lomax. New York: Macmillan, 1936. . With John Avery Lomax. Macmillan, 1934.
  • Lomax the Songhunter, documentary directed by Rogier Kappers, 2004 (issued on DVD 2007). television series, 1990 (five DVDs). 1951 (on a DVD with other films related to the Padstow May Day). Four films (Dance & Human History, Step Style, Palm Play, and The Longest Trail) made by Lomax (1974–1984) about his Choreometric cross-cultural analysis of dance and movement style. Two-and-a-half hours, plus one-and-a-half hours of interviews and 177 pages of text. , expanded, thirtieth-anniversary edition of the 1979 documentary by Alan Lomax, filmmaker John Melville Bishop, and ethnomusicologist and civil rights activist Worth Long, with 3.5 hours of additional music and video.
  • Ballads, Blues and Bluegrass, an Alan Lomax documentary released in 2012. His assistant Carla Rotolo was seen in the film.
  • Southern Journey (Revisited), this 2020 documentary retraces the route of an iconic song-collecting trip from the late 1950s - Alan Lomax's so-called "Southern Journey".
  1. ^
  2. "Alan Lomax Collection (The American Folklife Center, Library of Congress)". Loc.gov. May 15, 2015 . Retrieved November 2, 2019 .
  3. ^ During the New Deal called "applied folklore" or "functionalism" by Benjamin Botkin, see John Alexander Williams, "The Professionalization of Folklore Studies: a Comparative Perspective", Journal of the Folklore Institute 11: 3 (March 1975) 211–34.
  4. ^
  5. "Where the Songs Live". The Attic . Retrieved March 19, 2019 .
  6. ^
  7. "The American Folklife Center Celebrates Lomax Centennial". Loc.gov. January 15, 2015 . Retrieved September 8, 2015 .
  8. ^
  9. "Alan Lomax Biography". Biography.com . Retrieved September 8, 2015 .
  10. ^ John Szwed, Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World (New York: Viking, 2010), p. 20.
  11. ^ ab Szwed (2010), p. 21.
  12. ^ Szwed (2010), p. 22.
  13. ^ Szwed (2010), p. 24.
  14. ^ Szwed (2010), p. 92.
  15. ^ Szwed (2010), p. 91.
  16. ^
  17. "Music Reviews". PopMatters . Retrieved September 8, 2015 .
  18. ^
  19. Gordon, Robert (2013). Can't be Satisfied: the life and times of Muddy Waters. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN9780857868695 .
  20. ^
  21. Library of Congress. "Episode 4 Title: "Michigan‐I‐O " " (PDF) . Library of Congress . Retrieved March 31, 2018 .
  22. ^ Colin Scott and David Evans, liner Notes to Poor Man's Heaven (2003) CD in RCA Bluebird series When the Sun Goes Down, The Secret History of Rock and Roll, ASIN: B000092Q48. Midnight Special and Other Prison Songs was reissued complete on Bluebird in 2003.
  23. ^ Szwed (2010), p. 163.
  24. ^ Szwed (2010), p. 167.
  25. ^ Alan put the blame on CBS president William Paley, who he claimed 'hated all that hillbilly music on his network'" (Szwed [2010], p. 167).
  26. ^ Quoted in Ronald D. Cohen, The Rainbow Quest (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), p. 25.
  27. ^ Alan Lomax "Songs of the American Folk", Modern Music 18 (Jan.-Feb. 1941), quoted in Cohen (2002), p. 25.
  28. ^
  29. "After the Day of Infamy: 'Man-on-the-Street' Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor". Memory.loc.gov. December 8, 1941 . Retrieved September 8, 2015 .
  30. ^
  31. Kaufman, Will (2017). Woody Guthrie's Modern World Blues. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 265. ISBN978-0-8061-5761-0 .
  32. ^ See Matthew Barton and Andrew L. Kaye, in Ronald D. Cohen (ed), Alan Lomax Selected Writings, (New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 98–99.
  33. ^
  34. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 19, 2016 . Retrieved July 5, 2016 . CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  35. ^ Szwed, (2010), pp. 250–51.
  36. ^ Congress passed the Act in Sept. 1950 over the veto of President Truman, who called it "the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press, and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798," a "mockery of the Bill of Rights", and a "long step toward totalitarianism." See Harry S. Truman, "Veto of the Internal Security Bill"Archived March 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Harry S. Truman Library website
  37. ^ Szwed (2010), p. 248.
  38. ^ Szwed (2010) p. 251.
  39. ^ ab Szwed (2010), p. 274.
  40. ^ Szwed (2010), p. 275.
  41. ^
  42. "BBC Radio 4 – The First LP in Ireland". Bbc.co.uk. May 10, 2014 . Retrieved September 8, 2015 .
  43. ^
  44. Gareth Huw Davies (April 7, 2013). "David Attenborough talks about his early years – making a music series" . Retrieved May 18, 2016 .
  45. ^
  46. "Alan Lomax & The Gaels". The Croft. February 6, 2010 . Retrieved February 21, 2019 .
  47. ^
  48. McKean, Tom (November 2002). "The Gatherer of Songs". Leopard. Aberdeen, Scotland. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009 . Retrieved February 21, 2019 .
  49. ^ Quoted in Ronald D. Cohen's Rainbow Quest, University of Massachusetts Press, 2002, p. 140
  50. ^
  51. Rogers, Jude (March 21, 2008). "You want no sheen, just the song". The Guardian . Retrieved August 14, 2011 .
  52. ^ Collins, Shirley, America Over The Water, SAF Publishing, 2004, pp.154–160
  53. ^ Collins described her arrival in America 1959 in an interview with Johan Kugelberg:

Kugelberg: Lomax met you?

Collins: He was on the dockside with Anne, his daughter. . . .. I think I arrived in April and I don't think we went south until August. It took quite a long time to get the money together it kept falling through. I think Columbia was going to pay for it at one point, but they insisted he have a union engineer with him and someone extra like that—in situations we were going to be in would have been hopeless. So he refused, and they withdrew their funding. It was very last minute that the Ertegun brothers at Atlantic gave us the cash and we were gone within days of getting that money. Alan had wanted to do it earlier, but there was just no money to do it with. He had no money, ever. He was always living hand to mouth.

Kugelberg: That's the nature of somebody who is making the path as he's going along. Also as a sidebar, considering who the Ertegun brothers were at that point in time, it's surprising to me that they greenlighted that project at that point in time. I love that series, I think it's one of the great series of albums ever. It's surprising that Atlantic Records made that leap of faith because the series is sort of outside of their paradigm. So, those months were spent in New York?

Collins: We went to another place actually, we went to California, to the California Folk festival in Berkeley, this was sometime in the summer. And we stopped off in Chicago and stayed with Studs Terkel who was a hospitable man and his wonderful hospitable wife. Caught the train out to San Francisco from Chicago, which was an incredible experience. Sang at the Berkeley festival and met Jimmy Driftwood there for the first time. We all hit it off wonderfully.

Kugelberg: Your friends in England were dying of envy.

Collins: No, they didn't know.


Share Helen's obituary or write your own to preserve her legacy.

In 1934, in the year that Helen L Lomax was born, on November 11th 1933, an extremely strong dust storm hit South Dakota, stripping topsoil. Other strong dust storms had occurred during 1933. Severe droughts continued to hit the Great Plains and the dust storms devastated agricultural production as well as people's' lives for several years. The Roosevelt administration and scientists eventually determined that farming practices had caused the conditions that led to the dust storms and the changes they implemented in farming stopped the Dust Bowl.

In 1948, at the age of merely 14 years old, Helen was alive when on January 30th, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by a member of a Hindu nationalist party who thought that Gandhi was too accommodating to Muslims. The man, Nathuram Godse, shot Gandhi 3 times. He died immediately. The shooter was tried, convicted, and hung in November 1949.

In 1954, Helen was 20 years old when on May 17th, the Supreme Court released a decision on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The ruling stated that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students was unconstitutional thus paving the way for integration in schools.

In 1970, Helen was 36 years old when on May 4th, four students at Kent State University in Ohio were shot and killed by National Guardsmen. The students were at a peaceful demonstration protesting the invasion of Cambodia by US forces. There had been precedent for the killing of American college students. The previous year, on May 15th, Alameda County Sheriffs used shotguns against U.C. Berkeley students at a protest for People's Park. One student died, one was blinded, 128 were injured.

In 1990, when she was 56 years old, after 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, the leader of the movement to end South African apartheid was released on February 11th 1990.


Share Helen's obituary or write your own to preserve her legacy.

In 1913, in the year that Helen Lomax was born, Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire automobile. It had previously taken 12 hours to assemble a whole vehicle - now it took only two hours and 30 minutes! Inspired by the production lines at flour mills, breweries, canneries and industrial bakeries, along with the disassembly of animal carcasses in Chicago’s meat-packing plants, Ford created moving belts for parts and the assembly line was born.

In 1934, at the age of 21 years old, Helen was alive when on November 11th 1933, an extremely strong dust storm hit South Dakota, stripping topsoil. Other strong dust storms had occurred during 1933. Severe droughts continued to hit the Great Plains and the dust storms devastated agricultural production as well as people's' lives for several years. The Roosevelt administration and scientists eventually determined that farming practices had caused the conditions that led to the dust storms and the changes they implemented in farming stopped the Dust Bowl.

In 1979, at the age of 66 years old, Helen was alive when on March 28th, a partial nuclear meltdown occurred at the power plant at Three Mile Island Pennsylvania. Radiation leaked into the environment, resulting in a rating of 5 on a scale of 7 ("Accident With Wider Consequences") . It ended up costing $1 billion to clean up the site.

In 1987, when she was 74 years old, was the first time that a criminal in the United States - a serial rapist - was convicted through the use of DNA evidence.

In 1995, when she was 82 years old, on October 16th, the Million Man March took place on the National Mall in Washington DC. The March was organized to address "the ills of black communities and call for unity and revitalization of African American communities". An estimated 850,000 people attended.


The Lomax family originally came from England with William Lomax, who settled in Rockingham County in what was then "the colony of North Carolina." John Lomax was born in Goodman in Holmes County in central Mississippi, to James Avery Lomax and the former Susan Frances Cooper. [1] In December 1869, the Lomax family traveled by ox cart from Mississippi to Texas. John Lomax grew up in central Texas, just north of Meridian in rural Bosque County. [2] His father raised horses and cattle and grew cotton and corn on the 183 acres (0.74 km 2 ) of bottomland that he had purchased near the Bosque River. [3] He was exposed to cowboy songs as a child. [4] At around nine he befriended Nat Blythe, a former slave hired as a farmhand by James Lomax. The friendship, he wrote later, "perhaps gave my life its bent." [5] Lomax, whose own schooling was sporadic because of the heavy farmwork he was forced to do, taught Blythe to read and write, and Blythe taught Lomax songs including "Big Yam Potatoes on a Sandy Land" and dance steps such as "Juba". When Blythe was 21 years old, he took his savings and left. Lomax never saw him again and heard rumors that he had been murdered. For years afterward, he always looked for Nat when he traveled around the South. [6]

When he was about to turn twenty-one, and his legal obligation to work as apprentice on his father's farm was coming to an end, his father permitted him to take the profits from the crops of one of their fields. Lomax used this, along with the money from selling his favorite pony, to pay to further his education. In the fall of 1887, he attended Granbury College in Granbury [7] and in May 1888, he graduated and eventually became a teacher. He began his first job as a teacher at a country school in Clifton, southeast of Meridian. [8] As time went on, he grew tired of the low pay and country-school drudgery and he applied for work at Weatherford College in Weatherford in Parker County in the spring of 1889. He was hired as principal by the school's new president, David Switzer, who had previously been president of Granbury College until it was closed down and he was transferred to Weatherford. [9] In 1890, after having attended a summer course at Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York, Lomax returned to Texas where he became head of the Business Department of Weatherford College. [10] Each summer, between 1891 and 1894, he also attended the annual lecture-and-concert series at New York State's Chautauqua Institute, which pioneered adult education (and where Lomax himself would later lecture). [11] According to Porterfield, "There he improved his mathematics, struggled with Latin, listened to music that stirred him (opera and oratorios, light 'classics' of the day), and learned, for the first time, of two poets—Tennyson and Browning—whose work would soon become an integral part of his intellectual equipment." [12]

By this time, however, he had decided to further his education at a first-rate university. His first choice was Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. But he soon realized that he probably would not pass Vanderbilt's tough entrance examinations. [13] So, in 1895, at the age of 28, Lomax matriculated at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in English literature, and undertaking almost a double course load (including Greek, Latin, and Anglo Saxon) and was graduated in two years. With a touch of Texas hyperbole, he later wrote:

Never was there such a hopeless hodge-podge, There was I, a Chautauqua-educated country boy who couldn't conjugate an English verb or decline a pronoun, attempting to master three other languages at the same time. . But I plunged on through the year, for since I was older than the average freshman, I must hurry, hurry, hurry. I don't think I ever stopped to think how foolish it all was. [14] [15]

In his memoir, Adventures of a Ballad Hunter, Lomax recounts how he had arrived at the University of Texas with a roll of cowboy songs he had written down in childhood. He showed them to an English professor, Morgan Callaway, only to have them discounted as "cheap and unworthy," prompting Lomax to take the bundle behind the men's dormitory and burn it. His interest in folksongs thus rebuffed, Lomax focused his attentions on more acceptable academic pursuits. [16] He joined the fraternity Phi Delta Theta and the Rusk Literary Society, as well as becoming an editor and later the editor-in-chief of the University of Texas Magazine. [17] During the summer of 1896, he attended a summer school program in Chicago studying languages. [18] In 1897, he became an associate editor of the Alcalde, a student newspaper. [19] After graduation in June 1897, he worked at the University of Texas as registrar for the next six years until the spring of 1903. [20] [21] He also had other duties such as being personal secretary to the President of the University, manager of Brackenridge Hall (the men's dormitory on campus), and serving on the Alumni Scholarship Committee. [22] Lomax joined a campus fraternity known as The Great and Honorable Order of Gooroos receiving the title "Sybillene Priest". [23]

Sometime around July 1898 Lomax began an intense relationship with Miss Shirley Green of Palestine, Texas, to whom he had been introduced in 1897 by the President of the University of Texas. [24] [25] For four years, their friendship had its ups and downs, until June 1902, when Lomax met one of Green's acquaintances, Bess Baumann Brown from Dallas. [26] It ultimately emerged that the reason for Miss Green's reluctance to commit herself to an engagement to John Lomax had been her awareness that she was mortally ill with tuberculosis. [27] However, Lomax continued to exchange letters with Miss Green until a month before her death, which occurred in February 1903. [28] That year, Lomax accepted an offer to teach English at Texas A&M University beginning in September [29] To bolster his credentials, in the meantime, he decided to enroll at the University of Chicago for a summer course. [30] Upon his return to Texas he became engaged to Miss Bess Brown and they married on June 9, 1904, in Austin. [31] [32] The couple settled down at College Station near the A&M campus. [33] Their first child, Shirley, was born on August 7, 1905. [34]

Lomax, aware of the deficiencies of his early education, still wished to improve himself, however, and on September 26, 1906, he jumped at the chance to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a graduate student, having previously received a $500 stipend: The Austin Teaching Fellowships. [35] Here he had the opportunity to study under Barrett Wendell and George Lyman Kittredge, two renowned scholars who actively encouraged his interest in cowboy songs. [36] Harvard, in fact, was the center of American folklore studies (then viewed as a subsidiary of English literature, itself a novel field of scholarship in comparison with the more traditional study of rhetoric focused on classical languages and geared to preparing lawyers and clergy). Kittredge, in addition to being a well-known scholar of Chaucer and Shakespeare, had inherited the professorship in English literature previously held by Francis James Child, whose courses he continued to teach and whose great, unfinished eight-volume edition of the Popular Ballads of England and Scotland he brought to completion.

It was Kittredge who pioneered modern methods of ballad study, and who encouraged collectors to get out of their armchairs and library halls and to get out into the countryside to collect ballads first hand. When he met John Lomax in 1907, this was what he encouraged him to do the cowboy songs Lomax had been writing down were glimpses into a whole new world, and Lomax should follow up on his work. "Go and get this material while it can be found," he told the young Texan. "Preserve the words and music. That's your job." [37]

Wendell and Kittredge continued to play an important advisory role in Lomax's career after he returned to Texas in June 1907 to resume his teaching position at A&M after completing his Master of Arts degree. This included a visit by the two professors to Texas during which Lomax took them to a Sunday service in an African-American church.

Soon after his return to Austin, John Lomax's son, John Jr., [38] was born, on June 14, 1907. [39] [40] Galvanized by Kittredge's advice and support, Lomax had begun collecting cowboy songs and ballads, [41] but his work was interrupted on February 7, 1908, when "The Great A&M Strike" broke out. The strike, caused by student dissatisfaction with the administration, [42] continued even after February 14, 1908, when the University, in a conciliatory gesture, fired some of its administrators. Unable to teach because of the strike, Lomax decided to see about resuming his collecting of cowboy ballads with a view to publishing them in a book. Encouraged by Wendell, he applied for and was awarded a Sheldon Fellowship grant. [43] In June 1908, Lomax became a full professor at A&M. That August the strike ended when the President of the University resigned. [44] In June 1910, Lomax accepted an administrative job at the University of Texas as "Secretary of the University Faculties and Assistant Director of the Department of Extension." [45]

In November 1910 the anthology, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, was published by Sturgis and Walton, with an introduction by then-former president Theodore Roosevelt. Among the songs included were "Jesse James", "The Old Chisholm Trail", "Sweet Betsy From Pike", and "The Buffalo Skinners" (which George Lyman Kittredge considered "one of the greatest western ballads" and which was praised for its Homeric quality by Carl Sandburg and Virgil Thomson.) [46] From the first, John Lomax insisted on the inclusiveness of American culture. Some of the most famous songs in the book — "Git Along Little Dogies", "Sam Bass," and "Home on the Range" — were sourced from African-American cowboys. Before Home on the Range was published Lomax recorded a black saloon keeper in San Antonio singing it on an Edison cylinder. [47]

Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads emerged as a major collection of Western songs and had "a profound effect on other folk song students.". [48] According to noted folklore scholar, D. K. Wilgus, the book's publication "sparked a great surge of interest in folk songs of all kinds, and in fact, inspired a search for folk material in all regions of the nation." [49] Its success transformed John A. Lomax into a nationally known figure. [50] [51] [52]

Around the same time, Lomax and Professor Leonidas Payne of the University of Texas at Austin co-founded the Texas Folklore Society, following Kittredge's suggestion that Lomax establish a Texas branch of the American Folklore Society. Lomax and Payne hoped that the society would further their own research while kindling an interest in folklore among like-minded Texans. On Thanksgiving Day, 1909, Lomax nominated Payne as president of the society, and Payne nominated Lomax as first secretary. The two set out to marshal support, and a month later, Killis Campbell, an associate professor at the University, publicly proposed the formation of the Society at a meeting of the Texas State Teachers Association in Dallas. [53] By April 1910, there were 92 charter members. [54]

Lomax then used his prestige as a nationally known author to travel the country raising money for folklore studies and to establish other state folklore societies. "He was among the first scholars to present papers about American folk songs to the Modern Language Association, the nation's leading organization of teachers of languages and literature. For the next several years he hit the lecture circuit, traveling so often that his wife, Bess Brown, had to help him with his schedules and even some of his speeches." [48] His lectures on cowboy songs, ballads and poetry took him all across the eastern USA. [55] For example, in December 1911, Lomax made a successful performance at Cornell University, singing and reciting some of the cowboy songs he had collected. [56] Sometimes he would have a chorus of college students dress up as cowboys to add interest to his presentations.

Lomax's abiding interest in African-American folklore was also in evidence, for he had plans to publish another book within a year that consisted of folk songs collected from African-Americans. Although the book failed to materialize, he did publish (in the Journal of American Folklore, December 1912) "Stories of an African Prince", a collection of 16 African stories, which he had obtained through his correspondence with a young Nigerian student, Lattevi Ajayi. [57] In 1912, with the backing of Kittredge, John A. Lomax was elected president of the American Folklore Society, with Kittredge (himself a former president of the society) as First Vice President. He was re-elected for a second term in 1913. [58] In 1922, J. Frank Dobie became secretary-treasurer of the Texas Folklore Society, a job he was to hold for 21 years.

Lomax's second son (and third child), Alan, was born on January 15, 1915. In time, Alan Lomax would prove a worthy successor of his father. A second daughter, Bess, was born in 1921, and she too had a distinguished career, both as a performer and teacher.

The Texas Folklore Society grew gradually over the next decade, with Lomax steering it forward. At his invitation, Kittredge and Wendell attended its meetings. Other early members were Stith Thompson and J. Frank Dobie, who both began teaching English at the university in 1914. In 1915, at Lomax's recommendation, Stith Thompson became the society's secretary-treasurer. In 1916, Lomax's voluminous encyclopedia, The Book of Texas, which he had written jointly with Harry Yandall Benedict, was published. The same year, Stith Thompson edited the first volume of the Publications of the Texas Folklore Society, which Dobie reissued as Round the Levee in 1935. This publication exemplified the society's express purpose, and the motivation behind Lomax's own work: to gather a body of folklore before it disappeared, and to preserve it for the analysis of later scholars. These early efforts foreshadowed what would become Lomax's greatest achievement, the collection of more than ten thousand recordings for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. In the inaugural issue of the Publications of the Texas Folklore Society, John A. Lomax urged the collection of Texas folklore: "Two rich and practically unworked fields in Texas are found in the large Negro and Mexican populations of the state." He adds, "Here are many problems of research that lie close at hand, not buried in musty tomes and incomplete records, but in vital human personalities." [59]

Throughout the next seven years he continued his research and lecture tours assisted and encouraged by his wife and children. All this came to an end on July 16, 1917, however, when Lomax was fired along with six other faculty members as the result of a political battle between Governor James E. Ferguson and the University President, Dr. R. E. Vinson. Lomax moved to Chicago to take a job selling bonds at Lee, Higginson & Co a bond brokerage firm run by the son of his old professor Barrett Wendell. A few months later, Ferguson was impeached and the Board of Regents rescinded its dismissal of the faculty. Lomax judged that it would be wrong to leave his post at Lee, Higginson & Co so soon after arriving, especially with regards to his friendship with the family of Barrett Wendell, so he remained in Chicago for eighteen months until the war ended. [60] There he struck up a what turned out to be a lifelong friendship with Chicago poet Carl Sandburg, who frequently mentions him in his book, American Songbag (1927). In 1919, his next book, Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp, an anthology of cowboy poetry, was published by Macmillan. That year Lomax returned to Texas to be secretary of the Texas Exes, which had become financially independent of the University, so as to avoid further interference from politicians. Nevertheless, interference struck, when Ferguson, whom the law prohibited from holding office, ran his wife, Miriam A. Ferguson, as his surrogate. As governor, Mrs. Ferguson was able to pack the board of regents and oust John from his job as editor of The Alcade, which during his tenure was a 100-page long publication. Seeing how the wind was blowing, Lomax resigned his secretaryship and joined the Republic Bank of Dallas in 1925. The economic crash of 1929 presaged bad things for the bank, however.

Tragedy struck the Lomax family in 1931 when Lomax's beloved wife Bess Brown died at the age of 50, leaving four children (the youngest, Bess, only ten years old). In addition, the Dallas bank at which Lomax worked failed: he had to phone his customers one by one to announce that their investments were all worthless. In debt and unemployed and with two school-age children to support, the sixty-five-year-old went into a deep depression. In hope of reviving his father's spirits, his oldest son, John Lomax Jr. encouraged him to begin a new series of lecture tours. They took to the road, camping out by the side of the road to save money, with John Jr. (and later Alan Lomax) serving the senior Lomax as driver and personal assistant. In June 1932, they arrived at the offices of the Macmillan publishing company in New York City. Here Lomax proposed his idea for an anthology of American ballads and folksongs, with a special emphasis on the contributions of African Americans. It was accepted. In preparation he traveled to Washington to review the holdings in the Archive of American Folk Song of the Library of Congress.

By the time of Lomax's arrival, the Archive already contained a collection of commercial phonograph recordings that straddled the boundaries between commercial and folk, and wax cylinder field recordings, built up under the leadership of Robert Winslow Gordon, Head of the Archive, and Carl Engel, chief of the Music Division. Gordon had also experimented in the field with a portable disc recorder, but had had neither time nor resources to do significant fieldwork. Lomax found the recorded holdings of the Archive woefully inadequate for his purposes. He therefore made an arrangement with the Library whereby it would provide recording equipment, obtained for it by Lomax through private grants, in exchange for which he would travel the country making field recordings to be deposited in the Archive of the Library, then the major resource for printed and recorded material in the United States

After the departure of Robert Gordon from the Library in 1934, John A. Lomax was named Honorary Consultant and Curator of the Archive of American Folk Song, a title he held until his death in 1948. His work, for which he was paid a salary of one dollar, included fund raising for the Library, and he was expected to support himself entirely through writing books and giving lectures. Lomax secured grants from the Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others, for continued field recordings. He and Alan recorded Spanish ballads and vaquero songs on the Rio Grande border and spent weeks among French-speaking Cajuns in southern Louisiana.

Thus began a ten-year relationship with the Library of Congress that would involve not only John but the entire Lomax family, including his second wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax, Professor of Classics and Dean of Women at the University of Texas, whom he married in 1934. His sons and daughters assisted with his folksong research and with the daily operations of the Archive: Shirley, who performed songs taught to her by her mother John Jr., who encouraged his father's association with the Library Alan Lomax who accompanied John on field trips and who from 1937 to 1942 served as the Archive's first paid (though very nominally) employee as Assistant in Charge and Bess, who spent her weekends and school vacations copying song texts and doing comparative song research.

Through a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, Lomax was able to set out in June 1933 on the first recording expedition under the Library's auspices, with Alan Lomax (then eighteen years old) in tow. As now, a disproportionate percentage of African American males were held as prisoners. Robert Winslow Gordon, Lomax's predecessor at the Library of Congress, had written (in an article in the New York Times, c. 1926) that, "Nearly every type of song is to be found in our prisons and penitentiaries" [61] Folklorists Howard Odum and Guy Johnson also had observed that, "If one wishes to obtain anything like an accurate picture of the workaday Negro he will surely find his best setting in the chain gang, prison, or in the situation of the ever-fleeing fugitive." [62] But what these folklorists had merely recommended John and Alan Lomax were able to put into practice. In their successful grant application they wrote, following Odum, Johnson and Gordon's hint, that prisoners, "Thrown on their own resources for entertainment . still sing, especially the long-term prisoners who have been confined for years and who have not yet been influenced by jazz and the radio, the distinctive old-time Negro melodies." They toured Texas prison farms recording work songs, reels, ballads, and blues from prisoners such as James "Iron Head" Baker, Mose "Clear Rock" Platt, and Lightnin' Washington. By no means were all of those whom the Lomaxes recorded imprisoned, however: in other communities, they recorded K.C. Gallaway and Henry Truvillion.

In July 1933, they acquired a state-of-the-art, 315 pounds (143 kg) phonograph uncoated-aluminum disk recorder. Installing it in the trunk of his Ford sedan, Lomax soon used it to record, at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, a twelve-string guitar player by the name of Huddie Ledbetter, better known as "Lead Belly," whom they considered one of their most significant finds. During the next year and a half, father and son continued to make disc recordings of musicians throughout the South.

In contrast to earlier amateur collectors, the Lomaxes were also among the first to attempt to apply scholarly methodology in their work, though they did not adhere to the strict empirical positivism adopted by the subsequent generation of academic folklorists, who believed in refraining from drawing conclusions about the data they amassed. [63]

The following year (in July 1934), they visited Angola once again. This time Lead Belly begged them to make a recording of a song he had written to take to the Governor requesting parole, which they did. However, unbeknownst to them, Lead Belly was released in August for good time (and because of cost-cutting due to the Depression) and not because of the Lomaxes' recording, which the Governor may not have listened to. In September 1934, Lead Belly wrote to Lomax requesting employment, since he needed to have a job in order not to be sent back to prison. At the urging of John Jr., Lomax engaged Lead Belly as his driver and assistant, and the pair traveled the South together collecting folk songs for the next three months. Then, in December 1934, Lead Belly famously performed illustrating John Lomax's scheduled lecture of folk songs at a smoker and sing-along held at the national MLA meeting in Philadelphia (see Lead Belly). Their association continued for three more months until the following March (1935). In January, Lomax, who knew nothing whatever about the recording business, became Lead Belly's manager and, through a friend, cowboy singer Tex Ritter, got Lead Belly a recording contract with the famous A&R man Art Satherley of ARC records. Satherly had publicity photos made of the singer wearing overalls and sitting on sacks of grain, garb and setting that were customary in commercial publicity photos of country singers in those days. [64] But Lead Belly's recordings, marketed as race music, failed to sell. A filmed re-enactment in early 1935 for The March of Time newsreel [65] of Lomax's discovery of Lead Belly in prison, led to the myth that John Lomax made Lead Belly perform in prison stripes (which is inaccurate). He did perform in overalls, however. During Lomax's two-week lecture tour with Lead Belly on the eastern college circuit in March 1935 (pre-scheduled by Lomax before teaming up with Lead Belly), the two men quarreled over money and never spoke to one another again.

John A. Lomax has been accused of paternalism and of tailoring Lead Belly's repertoire and clothing during his brief association with Lead Belly. [66] "But," writes jazz historian Ted Gioia,

few would deny the instrumental role he played in the transformation of the one-time convict into a commercially successful performer of traditional African American music. The turnabout in his life was rapid and profound: Lead Belly was released from prison on August 1, 1934 his schedule for the last week of December that year included performances for the MLA gathering in Philadelphia, for an afternoon tea in Bryn Mawr, and for an informal gathering of professors from Columbia and NYU. Even by the standards of the entertainment industry . this was a remarkable transformation. [67]

After his three-months as a performer illustrating John A. Lomax's lectures, Lead Belly went on to a 15-year career as an independent artist, championed and assisted intermittently (but not managed) by Alan Lomax.

In 1938 John Lomax visited noted writer Ben Robertson in Pickens County, South Carolina and Ben introduced him to the all-day singing festivals of the area which enabled Lomax to preserve the lyrics of many local folksongs. [68]

The Archive of American Folk Song of the Library of Congress contains songs collected in 33 states of the Union and certain parts of the West Indies, The Bahamas, and Haiti. As Curator and Assistant in Charge of the Folk Song Collection John and Alan Lomax supervised and worked with many other folklorists, musicologists, and composers, amateur and professional, all over the country, amassing more than ten thousand records of vocal and instrumental music on aluminum and acetate discs along with many pages of written documentation.

In his 1942 introduction to the multi-volume Checklist of Recorded Folk Song in the Library of Congress, Harold Spivacke, Chief of the Library of Congress's Division of Music, wrote:

Many hard-working and expert folklorists cooperated in the accumulation of this material, but in the main the development of the Archive of American Folk Song represents the work of two men, John and Alan Lomax. Starting in 1933, the Lomaxes, father and son, traveled tens of thousands of miles, endured many hardships, exercised great patience and tact to win the confidence and friendship of hundreds of singers in order to bring to the Library of Congress records of the voices of countless interesting people they met on the way. Very much remains to be done to make our Archive truly representative of all the people, but the country owes a debt of gratitude to these two men for the excellent foundation laid for future work in this field. . The Lomaxes received much help in their expeditions from many interested folklorists, some of whom have made important contributions to the Archive as a result of independent expeditions of their own. To these the Library wishes to take this opportunity to express its deep gratitude. They include Gordon Barnes, Mary E. Barnicle, E. C. Beals, Barbara Bell, Paul Brewster, Genevieve Chandler, Richard Chase, Fletcher Collins, Carita D. Corse, Sidney Robertson Cowell, Dr. E. K. Davis, Kay Dealy, Seamus Doyle, Charles Draves, Marjorie Edgar, John Henry Faulk, Richard Fento, Helen Hartness Flanders, Frank Goodwin, Percy Grainger, Herbert Halpert, Melville Herskovits, Zora Neale Hurston, Myra Hull, George Pullen Jackson, Stetson Kennedy, Bess Lomax, Elizabeth Lomax, Ruby Terrill Lomax, Eloise Linscott, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Walter McClintock, Alton Morris, Juan B. Rael, Vance Randolph, Helen Roberts, Domingo Santa Cruz, Charles Seeger, Mrs. Nicol Smith, Robert Sonkin, Ruby Pickens Tartt, Jean Thomas, Charles Todd, Margaret Valliant, Ivan Walton, Irene Whitfield, John Woods, and John W. Work III.

This checklist has been prepared as a result of countless requests. . Its appearance at this time is indeed appropriate since it is natural for a nation at war to try to evaluate and exploit to the fullest its own cultural heritage. In our folk song may be found some of the profoundedst currents that have run through American history. A mere glance at the titles listed here will be sufficient to show the variety and complexity of the democratic life of our country.

After 1942, field work of collecting folk songs under government auspices was discontinued due to a shortage of acetate needed for the war effort. But the work had aroused the ire and suspicion of Southern conservatives in Congress who were fearful it could be used as a cover for civil and worker rights agitation, and because of congressional opposition it has never been resumed.

John A. Lomax's contribution to the documentation of American folk traditions extended beyond the Library of Congress Music Division through his involvement with two agencies of the Works Progress Administration. In 1936, he was assigned to serve as an advisor on folklore collecting for both the Historical Records Survey and the Federal Writers' Project. Lomax's biographer, Nolan Porterfield, notes that the outlines of the famed WPA State Guides resulting from this work resemble Lomax and Benedict's earlier Book of Texas. [69]

As the Federal Writers' Project's first Folklore Editor, Lomax also directed the gathering of ex-slave narratives and devised a questionnaire for project fieldworkers to use.

The WPA project to interview former slaves assumed a form and a scope that bore Lomax's imprint and reflected his experience and zeal as a collector of folklore. His sense of urgency inspired the efforts in several states. And his prestige and personal influence enlisted the support of many project officials, particularly in the deep South, who might otherwise have been unresponsive to requests for materials of this type. One might question the wisdom of selecting Lomax, a white Southerner [70] to direct a project involving the collection of data from black former slaves. Yet whatever racial preconceptions Lomax may have held do not appear to have had an appreciable effect upon the Slave Narrative Collection. Lomax's instructions to interviewers emphasized the necessity of obtaining a faithful account of the ex-slave's version of his or her experience. "It should be remembered that the Federal Writers' Project is not interested in taking sides on any question. The worker should not censor any materials collected regardless of its nature." Lomax constantly reiterated his insistence that the interviews be recorded verbatim, with no holds barred. In his editorial capacity he closely adhered to this dictum. [71]

Upon Lomax's departure this work was continued by Benjamin A. Botkin, who succeeded Lomax as the Project's folklore editor in 1938, and at the Library in 1939, resulting in the invaluable compendium of authentic slave narratives: Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery, edited by B. A. Botkin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945). [72]

John A. Lomax served as president of the Texas Folklore Society for the years 1940–41, and 1941–42. [73] In 1947 his autobiography Adventures of a Ballad Hunter (New York: Macmillan) was published and was awarded the Carr P. Collins prize as the best book of the year by the Texas Institute of Letters. The book was immediately optioned to be made into a Hollywood movie starring Bing Crosby as Lomax and Josh White as Lead Belly, but the project was never realized.

In 1932, Lomax met his friend, Henry Zweifel, a rancher and businessman then from Cleburne in Johnson County, while both were volunteers for Orville Bullington's Republican gubernatorial race against the Democrat Miriam Ferguson. Lomax's old enemy, James Ferguson, was virtually running his wife's comeback attempt at the governorship. [74]

Lomax died of a stroke at the age of eighty in January 1948. On June 15 of that year, Lead Belly gave a concert at the University of Texas, performing children's songs such as "Skip to My Lou" and spirituals (performed with his wife Martha) that he had first sung years before for the late collector. [75]

In 2010, John A. Lomax was inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame for his contributions to the field of cowboy music.

Following in his grandfather's footsteps, Lomax's grandson John Lomax III is a nationally published United States music journalist, author of Nashville: Music City USA (1986), Red Desert Sky (2001) and co-author of The Country Music Book (1988). He is also an artist manager and has represented Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Rocky Hill, David Schnaufer and The Cactus Brothers. He began representing the Dead Ringer Band in 1996. John Lomax III was also a music writer for Houston's early-'70s underground newspaper, Space City!

John Lomax III's son John Nova Lomax also kept up the family tradition. While serving as the former music editor of the Houston Press, John Nova Lomax won an ASCAP Deems Taylor award for music journalism for his profile of troubled former country music superstar Doug Supernaw. John Nova Lomax also helped discover rising country troubadour Hayes Carll. Since 2008, John Nova Lomax has been a staff writer at the Houston Press. In 2010, 100 years after his great-grandfather published his first book, John Nova Lomax published his own first book: Houston's Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the Bayou City.

  1. ^ Nolan Porterfield (1996). Last Cavalier: The Life and Times of John A. Lomax, 1867-1948. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 371. ISBN9780252022166 . Retrieved December 14, 2015 .
  2. ^ Porterfield, p. 10.
  3. ^ Porterfield, p. 12.
  4. ^ Porterfield, p. 18–19.
  5. ^ Porterfield, p. 20.
  6. ^ Charles Wolf and Kip Lornell, Life and Legend of Leadbelly (New York: Da Capo Press, [1992] 1999), p. 107.
  7. ^ Porterfield, p. 22.
  8. ^ Porterfield, p. 25.
  9. ^ Porterfield, p. 26.
  10. ^ Porterfield, p. 27–29.
  11. ^ Porterfield, p. 29.
  12. ^ Porterfield, p. 30.
  13. ^ Porterfield, p. 32.
  14. ^ Porterfield, p. 34.
  15. ^ Porterfield, p. 40–41.
  16. ^ Porterfield, p. 59–60.
  17. ^ Porterfield, p. 41.
  18. ^ Porterfield, p. 43.
  19. ^ Porterfield, p. 45.
  20. ^ Porterfield, p. 50.
  21. ^ Porterfield, p. 68.
  22. ^ Porterfield, p. 71–72.
  23. ^ Porterfield, p. 73.
  24. ^ Porterfield, p. 53–66.
  25. ^ Porterfield, p. 75–77.
  26. ^ Porterfield, p. 79–80.
  27. ^ Porterfield, p. 62–66.
  28. ^ Porterfield, p. 83.
  29. ^ Porterfield, p. 87.
  30. ^ Porterfield, p. 89.
  31. ^ Porterfield, p. 94–95.
  32. ^ Porterfield, p. 100.
  33. ^ Porterfield, p. 101.
  34. ^ Porterfield, p. 105.
  35. ^ Porterfield, p. 106–108.
  36. ^ Porterfield, p. 114.
  37. ^ Wolfe and Lornell (1999) p. 108.
  38. ^
  39. Lomax III, John. "John A. Lomax Jr. (1907–1974): A Success in All He Did". Association for Cultural Equity. Retrieved on 24 November 2014
  40. ^ Porterfield, p. 123.
  41. ^ Porterfield, p. 127.
  42. ^ Wilgus situates Lomax's collecting as follows:

Three traditions guided the collecting [in the United States]: the academic, which, following Child, sought accurate transcriptions of text first and music later for scholarly study the local enthusiastic, which searched out and displayed the quaint, the unusual, the exciting, the enjoyable in undisciplined and mercurial fashion and the musical aesthetic, which sought the distinguishable art form of the folk tune for appreciation and performance. The collectors themselves were academics, whether somewhat detached leaders of regional activity or lone workers aided by chance location, early upbringing, or special interest. Or they were interested amateurs in that they began and pursued their labors for a wide variety of reasons unrelated to the values of disinterested scholarship. A union of both types of collector, in the person of John A. Lomax, enriched the greatest collection of all, the Archive of American Folk Song (Library of Congress). —D. K. Wilgus, Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898 (Rutgers, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1959), p. XV.

  • 1. Have you recorded the material just as you found it, mistakes and all?
  • 2. Where, when, and from whom did you get it?
  • 3. Did you take it from recitation, from old manuscript, from singing, or write it out from memory?
  • 4. When, where, and from whom did your informant get it?

now declared him unacceptable because he lacked a Ph.D. Some observers attributed this action to the jealousy of certain academics over the commercial success of Lomax's books. . Whatever the motive, at its annual meeting in 1938 the American Folklore Society adopted a resolutions distancing itself from the material from the Federal Writers' Project under Lomax's direction. It would be acceptable only if collected under "expert guidance" (in other words by an academic with specialized training). [Lomax's] only response to the AFS's snub was the wry observation, sometime later, that "perhaps the collector must go out among the people dressed in cap and gown." After a few months, WPA director, Henry Alsberg named as Lomax's successor Benjamin Botkin, A.B. Harvard (magna cum laude), M.A. Columbia, Ph.D. University of Nebraska, editor, professor at the University of Oklahoma, and contributor to learned journals. At its next annual meeting, the AFS "noted with interest" the appointment of Botkin, "a trained folklorist" and now expressed a willingness to cooperate with his WPA projects.

Harold Preece, a WPA staffer in Texas, once asked Lomax what he thought of Botkin's work in Oklahoma? Botkin's work was interesting, responded Lomax, but it wasn't the sort of thing he did moreover, "how much is Botkin and how much is folklore, only he knows." Ironically, despite Botkin's impeccable credentials, within a decade he had also earned the enmity of academics for publishing "popular" books and was cast from the fold. (See Porterfield, pp. 407–408)


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Authors

Our research is concerned with cultural representations of birth and mothering and, as part of this, we are engaged with debates concerning competing theoretical and methodological approaches to the analysis of visual images. In particular we are interested in how meanings of an image are reflexively produced, managed and negotiated. That is, whether and to what extent interpretation is influenced by personal experience, emotion and memory the ways in which the context of viewing may mediate meaning and how the relationship between researcher and research subject may shape the interpretative process. In order to explore such questions, this paper draws on the tape-recorded discussion of a group of women collectively viewing images of new mothers. These included photographs of mothers and their newborns taken by the Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra, and photographs of us, the authors, as new mothers, taken by our respective families.

The paper blends the analytic framework of conversation analysis and discursive psychology in order to consider both our own and the discussants’ responses to these photographs as they emerge through the dynamic and discursive process of collective viewing. In addition we consider the significance of our own and the discussants’ biographies and reproductive experiences, as they are made visible in the talk-in-interaction, for the meanings generated by the group's engagement with the photographs. Through this reflexive approach we highlight the significance of the interplay between broader cultural narratives, genres, memories and experiences for the interpretive process and the analytical challenges posed by collective viewings of images in which meanings are discursively situated, negotiated and silenced.


Helen Bamber obituary

Helen Bamber, who has died aged 89, was renowned for her lifetime pursuit of human rights for those who faced the worst kinds of inhumanity. She worked with people who had suffered torture, trafficking, slavery, the effects of war and other forms of extreme cruelty. Over almost 70 years, she helped tens of thousands to confront the horror and brutality of their experiences. It was her belief that through restoring dignity to those who have suffered atrocity, we find dignity and humanity in ourselves.

She was born Helen Balmuth to a Polish-Jewish family in north London, the only child of Louis, an accountant, and Marie, a singer. Strong beliefs in human rights pervaded the household. Her father taught her about the threat of Nazism at an early age, reading to her from Mein Kampf and translating Nazi speeches demonstrating how language could be manipulated and, with it, public opinion.

In 1945, Helen responded to a call for volunteers to help survivors of the concentration camps set up by the Nazis. At the age of 20, she joined the Jewish Relief Unit under the auspices of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to enter the recently liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where she worked for two years. She said: "There was nothing at times that I could do for the survivors, other than to listen and to bear witness to the rasping out of their story. Many were to die, but all I could say was, 'Your story will be told, I will be your witness.'" Bearing witness and refusing to be a bystander remained themes throughout her life's work.

On her return to Britain in 1947, Helen was appointed to the Committee for the Care of Children from Concentration Camps and became responsible for 722 orphaned children who had survived Auschwitz. In the same year, she married Rudi Bamberger, a German Jewish refugee, who later anglicised his name to Bamber. The couple had two sons, Jonathan (now a geologist) and David (now an organisational change consultant), who survive her.

Helen joined Amnesty International shortly after its inception in 1961. She chaired the British section's first medical group, which developed a systematic approach to documenting the physical and psychological injuries arising from state-sponsored torture around the world. She found that documenting injuries alone was not enough and that survivors of human rights abuses and their families were also in desperate need of support to overcome what had happened to them. Helen began providing therapy, alongside a team of doctors, to deal with the aftermath of trauma, during which people become haunted, unable to trust others and debilitated by flashbacks and nightmares. In Latin America, she worked with the "disappeared" and tortured in Chile, Argentina and Nicaragua. Perico Rodriguez, a torture survivor from Argentina who was helped by Helen in the 1970s remembers "her determination to help everybody. And I really mean everybody, not just those 'deserving' of help, but everybody who needed help."

In 1985, Helen founded the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (now known as Freedom From Torture) in response to a call from British doctors who said they did not have time to deal with the complexities of torture survivors coming to the UK or "to listen to their silences".

Here, she pioneered a treatment approach aimed at achieving what she termed "creative survival". It was her view that therapy in isolation was not sufficient. If a person's recovery following atrocity was to be sustained, then it was necessary for that person also to feel safe. She combined legal protection and the prevention of social deprivation with therapy and rehabilitation as the cornerstones of care for those whose lives had been shattered. As she put it: "One cannot give therapy if a person does not feel safe, if there is no food or a roof over your head. The rehabilitative aim is centred on the purpose of freeing victims from a form of bondage through which the torturer ensures that his interventions will last over time." Simple, yet profound. Her approach is still considered ahead of its time.

Helen remained at the helm of the medical foundation for almost 20 years. In 2005, relentless and tireless even at 80, in response to changing patterns of global violence and an increasingly hostile political landscape, she and Michael Korzinski founded the Helen Bamber Foundation. The new foundation had a broader remit and included not only torture survivors, but those who had suffered other forms of human rights violations, including those brutalised by criminal gangs, trafficked for labour or sexual exploitation or kept as slaves by profiteers or families, who often sought international protection but continued to be dehumanised as liars, cheats or asylum seekers.

As the culmination of her life's work, at the Helen Bamber Foundation, it was her intention to hand over to others the knowledge accumulated over many years. She created a team to share her vision of compassion for those "whose voices are taken away twice – first by the perpetrator, and then by those decision makers whose language denies the experience of atrocity and loss, thereby colluding with the very intention of the perpetrator to destroy the truth of that person".

Helen's ability to speak truth to power and represent those who she considered the most marginalised was a rare and inspiring quality that earned her great respect. The former president of the European court of human rights, Sir Nicolas Bratza, described her as "a formidable force of nature who earned and commanded the respect of all who had the good fortune to meet her". The actor Juliet Stevenson has stated that "Helen's capacity to speak from the heart while reasoning with her laser-like intelligence and clarity of purpose made her a phenomenal advocate". Sir Geoffrey Bindman, lawyer and specialist in human rights, said: "She ranks high among the outstanding humanitarians of our time."

In recognition of her work, Helen was named European Woman of Achievement in 1993, made an OBE in 1997, and received the inaugural Times/Sternberg Active Life award in 2008 for continuing to "assert the questing spirit of humanity". She held honorary degrees from Oxford, Dundee, Glasgow, Essex, Ulster, Kingston and Oxford Brookes universities.

The actor Colin Firth, whom Helen helped to prepare for his role of the torture survivor Eric Lomax in the 2013 film The Railway Man, said: "I marvelled that anyone could find the strength to engage with so many desperate stories without being engulfed by them." Lomax himself wrote: "Meeting with [Helen] was like walking through a door into an unexplored world, of caring and special understanding."

Helen Bamber, human rights campaigner, born 1 May 1925 died 21 August 2014


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