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Between August 1959 and May 1960, folklorist Alan Lomax took a trip through the American South—dubbed “The Southern Journey”— to record the little-known southern backcountry and blues music that we consider uniquely American. While traveling through Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia, Lomax’s camera was a constant companion. These photographs, part of the vast collections of the Library of Congress, show musicians making music with family and friends at home, with fellow worshippers at church, and alongside workers and prisoners in the fields. The photographs, along with the rest of the material from the trip, now reside in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

This book presents a selection of these photographs in a stunning volume published by W.W. Norton. Discussions of Lomax’s life and career by his disciple and lauded folklorist William Ferris, and a thoughtful consideration of Lomax’s life and photographs by novelist and Grammy Award-winning music writer Tom Piazza, enrich this valuable collection. The book also includes a detailed itinerary of the trip, a Southern Journey discography, and a CD with informative track notes of 12 songs recorded during the Southern Journey. Lovers of American music, photography, and the South should not miss this new look at the legendary folklorist and his work.

All photographs and music in this online preview are published courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity. Text for this online presentation was written by Nathan Salzburg, Todd Harvey, Aimee Hess Nash, and Hicks Wogan.