At the Library and in the Field: John and Alan Lomax Papers

John A. Lomax, Sr., and his son Alan Lomax became stewards of a nascent Archive of American Folk-Song in September 1933. Their tenure lasted until Alan separated from the Library of Congress in October 1942. During that period, they administered an archive that grew in scope and volume. The resultant manuscript material—correspondence, memoranda, reports, notes, and writings—was decades later collated into the John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax papers (AFC 1933/001), the focus of this digital collection.

The collection provides a remarkably clear picture of the Lomaxes’ activities. They built the archive—and their careers—while maneuvering within the Library’s byzantine political currents. They created and managed for the Library a dynamic network of politicians, musicians, academics, and other folk music collectors. They hurried, and befriended, and wrote at such a pace that John Lomax’s elegant penmanship seems at times to fly off the page, giving the accurate impression of a man in motion with a national undertaking under his care.

This campaign launched July 13, 2021 and completed September 3, 2021.

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