Lomax Family: Resources in the American Folklife Center
This research guide focuses on activities such as fieldwork, interpretation, and programming relating to the Lomax family as they are documented in the collections of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
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Todd Harvey, Lomax collections curator, American Folklife Center
Created: July 21, 2021
Last Updated: August 16, 2021
About Topical Guides
The American Folklife Center (AFC) produces guides for the purpose of directing users to resources and collections in support of research on a range of topics connected to folklife, cultural heritage, and ethnographic documentation.
This guide is part of a series of topical guides focusing on "areas of distinction" within AFC collections, as articulated in the Center's Collection Policy Statement. These topical guides are intended to be curated access points for AFC's rich resources, rather than comprehensive of definitive listings.
The Lomax family left an indelible imprint on the American Folklife Center and their legacy is closely tied to the Library of Congress as an institution. During the 1930s and early 1940s the Lomax family ran the nascent Archive of American Folk Song and set it on a course to be one of the world’s most influential ethnographic archives.
They recorded the voices of America with breadth not previously achieved—especially African-American repertories—and introduced the country to singers who have become part of the cultural fabric. Finally, they accessioned vernacular traditions into the National Library, adding them to the discourse around creating a comprehensive collection of human knowledge and wisdom.
The entire body of Lomax material at the American Folklife Center encompasses more than 100 collections and includes 700 linear feet of manuscripts, 10,000 sound recordings, 6000 graphic images, and 6000 moving images. Created by the Lomaxes, and many others, the body of material documents the creative expression of nearly 1000 culture groups from around the world.
One major resource outside of the Library comes from the Center's partner, the Lomax Digital Archive External. The site presents audio and photographs from Lomax collections in the American Folklife Center archive along with podcasts and informative content.