On January 31, 2012—what would have been Alan Lomax's 97th birthday—more than a decade of restoration, digitization and cataloging of his fieldwork culminated in the launch of the ACE Online Archive, which offers free digital access through multimedia collections of Lomax's field trips and research. Here's what's in it:

  • Sound Recordings. The Sound Recordings Archive mirrors Lomax's original tape and disc archive; beyond the discrete itemization of the tracks, it is completely unedited. As of December 2012, it is comprised of over 17,000 streaming audio recordings organized into 30 collections and totaling over 800 hours of music, stories and interviews:
  • Calypso Concert 1946
    Texas Gladden and Hobart Smith 1946
    New York Blues Interviews 1947
    Mississippi Prison Recordings 1947 and 1948
    Mississippi and Texas Church Recordings 1948
    Vera Hall 1948
    New Orleans Jazz Interviews 1949
    Jean Ritchie 1949 and 1950
    Ireland 1951 and 1953
    Scotland 1951, 1953, and 1957
    England and Wales 1951-1958
    Big Bill Broonzy 1952
    Spain 1952-1953
    Southern U.S. 1959 and 1960
    Hally Wood 1960
    Bessie Jones 1961-1962
    Caribbean 1962
    Romania 1964
    Soviet Union 1964
    Central Park Concert 1965
    Newport Folk Festival 1966
    Dominican Republic and Saint Eustatius 1967
    Morocco 1967
    Miscellaneous Recordings 1950-1990
    To come: Italy (1954-55); and several of Lomax's earlier collections made under the auspices of the Library of Congress: Haiti (1936-1937); Eastern Kentucky (1937); and the Upper Midwest (1938).

  • Photographs and Digital Images. In the early 1950s Alan Lomax began to keep photographic journals, with a few rolls taken in England, and major field studies in Spain, Italy, the American South, and the Caribbean. There are about 5,000 photographs in these collections:
    Kansas 1944
    England 1953
    Spain 1952-1953
    Italy 1954-1955
    Southern U.S. 1959-1960
    Caribbean 1962
    Newport Folk Festival 1966
    Dominican Republic 1967
    Louisiana 1983 and 1985
    Miscellaneous Photographs
  • Video Collections. The film work of Alan Lomax is a resource for students, researchers, filmmakers, and fans of America's traditional music and folkways. Shot throughout the American South and Southwest over the course of seven years (1978-1985) in preparation for a 1991 PBS series called American Patchwork, the material in Video Collections was culled from 400 hours of raw footage, only a fraction of which appeared in the Patchwork programs. Viewable in both the ACE Online Archive and through the Alan Lomax Archive's YouTube channel, these unedited sequences of performances interviews, and scenes of folklife are accessible in ways unimaginable at the time they were shot, and are a vibrant example of "cultural feedback." As of December 2012 they've reached well over three million viewers around the world, including friends and kin of artists Alan recorded, many of whom have expressed their appreciation in comments–see this one, on a lining hymn sung at Blackey, Kentucky's Thornton Old Regular Baptist Church:

    This is my papaw John Wright lining the song!!!!!! I have been to many of his services and there is nothin in the whole wide world like it!!!! It does my heart such good to see and hear him sing again and he looks so wonderful to me!!!!! Thank You GOD for being able to see him again till I join him!!!!!

    Mississippi Delta & Hill & Country (1978)
    Appalachia (1982-1983)
    New Orleans (1982)
    Cajun Louisiana (1982-1985)
    Sacred Harp (1983)
    Johns Island (1983)

  • Radio Programs. From 1939 to 1957, Alan Lomax wrote, produced, and hosted radio shows and series for CBS, the Office of War Information, the Mutual Broadcasting Network, the BBC, and RAI Italy. His 1939–41 folk song programs for children and adults on CBS–American Folk Songs, Back Where I Come From and Wellsprings of Music —featured live interracial casts singing together. Right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lomax called upon colleagues and friends from across the country to capture "man-on-the-street" reactions to the bombing, which were broadcast on People Speak to the President.
  • Discussions, Interviews and Lectures. 200 hours of streaming audio, summarized by segment.

    Discover the thinking behind Alan Lomax's Performance Style and Culture research! In developing this cross-cultural research on folk song, dance, and speaking, Lomax consulted with colleagues in the fields of anthropology, musicology, otolaryngology, linguistics and paralinguistics, statistics, child psychology, the sociology of work, primate behavior, kinesics, and movement and dance notation, as well as with folk singers and dancers. Among many interviewed are Lomax's main collaborators in Cantometrics and Choreometrics research: Conrad Arensberg, Norman Berkowitz, Victor Grauer, Forrestine Paulay, Irmgard Bartenieff, and Roswell Rudd. There are fascinating discussions of twentieth-century popular music and dance in preparation for a study called The Urban Strain.

    Other highlights:

    Former members of Franklin Roosevelt's inner circle interviewed by Lomax in preparation for a 1982 commemoration of the 1939 White House concert for the King and Queen of England; a show on American music for Italian radio, with Alan Lomax singing cowboy songs; Bessie Jones's funeral service on St. Simons' Island in 1984; interviews with Ewan MacColl, Jack Owens, Mable Hillery, John Henry Faulk, and various Lomax family members.

    The Black Encyclopedia of the Air featured 30 "one-minute-plus" educational spots aired on black commercial radio and narrated by Jack Walker, and covered topics such as the roots of Ray Charles' music in African orchestral style; horn bands of Africa and the New World; the role of women and African female warriors; African male choruses and "overlap" singing; a black history of American pop music; black Islam; and the founding of Chicago by a Haitian settler.)

  • The GeoArchive is an interactive map organizing the field recordings in the Online Archive Microphone markers provide information about the locations, and the cassette icons reveal the discrete field-recording sessions.

    In 1960, Alan wrote: "It still remains for us to learn how we can put our magnificent mass communications technology at the service of each and every branch of the human family." It is our hope that the Lomax GeoArchive will offer greater access to this this epic collection, and be useful in classrooms.

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