ACE’s Repatriation Project Selected by Clinton Global Initiative

ACE’s Haiti Repatriation and Cultural Preservation Project was selected as an outstanding project of the Clinton Global Initiative in Haiti, sponsored by the Green Family Foundation, a humanitarian agency based in Miami and operating in Haiti, and a partner of the CGI.

The project brings to light the recordings Alan Lomax made in Haiti for The Library of Congress from 1936 to 1937. Over the last ten years ACE, in collaboration with the Magic Shop in New York City and staff at the American Folklife Center, has had the recordings digitally transferred, restored, and denoised in order to return them to the Haitian people.

Harte Recordings of San Francisco is publishing a box set of ten CDs with sound and video drawn from the collection, with extensive song notes and lyrics by Haitian music specialists, Gage Averill and Louis Carl St. Jean. It will include a book, compiled by Ellen Harold, of Lomax’s fascinating Haitian diaries and his correspondence with his friend, Zora Neale Hurston; anthropologist, Melville Herskovits; and his mentor, Charles Seeger, as well as with the Library of Congress. Produced by Anna Wood, Jeffrey Greenberg, and David Katznelson, Alan Lomax in Haiti will be released in October/November 2009. To learn more visit The Haiti Box and Cultural Equity.

Together with Kimberly Green and advisors from the Open Society Institute, we are exploring options for appropriate recipient institutions for the full collection. ACE’s major concern is that the materials will be widely accessible to the public, to educational institutions, and other outlets, and we have outlined a possible program of dissemination and cultural feedback based on models in public folklore. We expect a formal repatriation ceremony to take place in Haiti next spring.

Over the next few months, we will have the entire collection mastered before it is repatriated, and Gage Averill and his students will compile a digital catalog of the recordings. In its original form, the collection comprised 1,500 aluminum discs (over fifty hours) of recorded folk and popular music. It includes 350 ft. of 8mm film of music, dance, and ritual and over 250 pages of Alan Lomax’s diaries, notes, and correspondence about his fieldwork in Haiti.

Copies of the restored collection will be also be “repatriated” to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and deposited at the Schomburg Center for Research Center in Black Culture.

Other key partners in this initiative include Harte Recordings, the Rock Foundation, the Concordia Foundation, the Lake Ray Foundation, and Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP.

Originally posted: September 1, 2009