Written by dusttodigital on . Posted in Blog

Michigan-I-O: Alan Lomax and the 1938 Library of Congress Folk-Song Expedition

A partnership with the Library of Congress yields our first Digital Book.

Today marks the official release of Michigan-I-O: Alan Lomax and the 1938 Library of Congress Folk-Song Expedition by Todd Harvey. In 1938 the Library of Congress dispatched Alan Lomax—already a seasoned field worker at age 23—to complete a folklife survey of the Great Lakes region. He set off in a 1935 Plymouth Deluxe 4-door sedan, toting a Presto instantaneous disc recorder, a still camera, and a moving image camera. He returned almost three months later, having driven thousands of miles on barely paved roads, with a cache of 250 discs and 8 reels of film. These materials documented the diversity of ethnicity—Irish, Finnish, Serbian, Polish, German, Croatian, Canadian French, Hungarian, and more—in Michigan, as well as cultural expression among loggers and lake sailors.

A joint production between Dust-to-Digital and the Library of Congress, this innovative e-publication celebrates the 1938 field trip with a compelling narrative written by the Library’s Lomax curator, Todd Harvey, and illustrated with original items from the trip, including audio and video clips, field notes, and telegrams. Together, these materials provide fascinating insights into both the region that Lomax called “the most fertile source” of American folklore, and the man who would become the most famous 20th century folklorist in America.

The digital book, regularly priced at $9.99, will be offered at a special 50% off introductory price for the month of November. For upcoming events marking the 75th anniversary of these field recordings, visit the Museum of Michigan State University site, and for the first of four podcasts visit Alan Lomax and the Soundscapes of the Upper Midwest.