By Ronald D. Cohen
Alan Lomax (1915-2002) all started operating for the Archive of yankee people tune on the Library of Congress in 1936, first as a distinct and transitority assistant, then because the everlasting Assistant liable, beginning in June 1937, till he left in past due 1942. He recorded such very important musicians as Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Aunt Molly Jackson, and Jelly Roll Morton. A examining and exam of his letters from 1935 to 1945 show anyone who led an incredibly advanced, attention-grabbing, and artistic existence, as a rule as a public employee.While Lomax is famous for his box recordings, those amassed letters, many signed "Alan Lomax, Assistant in Charge," are a trove of knowledge earlier on hand merely on the Library of Congress. They make it transparent that Lomax used to be very attracted to the industrial hillbilly, race, or even well known recordings of the Twenties and after. those letters function a fashion of realizing Lomax's private and non-private existence in the course of a few of his most efficient and demanding years. Lomax was once the most stimulating and influential cultural staff of the 20 th century. the following he speaks for himself via his voluminous correspondence.
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But more of all that when I see more of it during the next month. I am positive of this much, however, that the rara and Mardi Gras bands themselves do not do all this simply and solely for pleasure and prestige, because in a little poverty town where I spent the night some time ago, there was no rara at all. The country people, slightly better oﬀ, did have Mardi Gras bands, but the costumes were entirely of home manufacture. Of course, in Port-auPrince, where the money of Haiti is largely concentrated, the Mardi Gras season is at its best, and some of the bands net a mine of money, just how much I shall discover next week.
Give my best regards to Messers. Spivacke and [Edward] Waters [also at the Music Division]. S. Would you be kind enough to ask Miss Rogers [a secretary in the oﬃce] to send me some mailing labels. I would suggest, in case either you or Dr. Putman write, that you send the letter airmail. [ALC] On the same day, December 21, he also wrote to his father: I can’t recall whether I have written you before or not since I have been here, but I know that I got the ﬁrst letters I have received since leaving New York Letters, 1936 19 today.
Let last night’s experience explain why I have thought for weeks that I would stiﬂe under the crush of new material. ) Polines put his ﬂat straw cady on the shelf for the ﬁrst time since I have been with him. Polines is my servant and interpreter, my brother and friend, and, although he does not know it, poor fellow, is acting at present as special assistant to the folk-song archive of the Library of Congress. Polines has worked for Americans before and he wears, as the symbol of the riches of the United States and the generosity of former bosses, a graying but still shiny ﬂat straw hat, called a “cady” in the Southwest.
Alan Lomax, Assistant in Charge: The Library of Congress Letters, 1935-1945 (American Made Music) by Ronald D. Cohen