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American Folklife Center Collections: South Carolina

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the state of South Carolina at the Library of Congress.


Disc sleeve for AFS Disc # 2721 (image 1). June 10, 1939. Notes on a disc sleeve by Ruby Terrill Lomax for a field recording made at the home of Ben Robertson, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

The collections of the American Folklife Center contain rich and varied material from South Carolina that documents the state's folk traditions. Among its recordings are Gullah dialect songs and tales from the Sea Islands; African American spirituals, hymns, lullabies, and religious services performed by choirs and soloists from around the state; and many hours of work songs, spirituals, and prayers of African American convicts held at the state work farms in Boykin and Columbia in the 1930s.

Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip

This recording trip is an ethnographic field collection that includes nearly 700 sound recordings, as well as fieldnotes, dust jackets, and other manuscripts documenting a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States. Beginning in Port Aransas, Texas, on March 31, 1939, and ending at the Library of Congress on June 14, 1939, John Avery Lomax, Honorary Consultant and Curator of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the American Folklife Center archive), and his wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax, recorded approximately 25 hours of folk music from more than 300 performers. These recordings represent a broad spectrum of traditional musical styles, including ballads, blues, children's songs, cowboy songs, fiddle tunes, field hollers, lullabies, play-party songs, religious dramas, spirituals, and work songs.

This collection consists of approximately 25 hours of audio recordings on 267 acetate recording discs and 1 linear foot of print materials. This includes the 1939 Annual Report for the Archive of American Folk Song, a 4-page trip report, 307 pages of fieldnotes, 57 items of correspondence, 37 song text transcriptions, and the 104 extant dust jackets from the recording discs with handwritten notes.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

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