Transcript of Alan Lomax

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture and education.

Alan Lomax believed every culture has a "right . . . to equal time on the air and equal time in the classroom." As director of the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song and as a radio and television host, Lomax introduced folksong to popular audiences and promoted it among students and scholars.

His interest in traditional song started when Lomax was a teenager. In the 1930s, Alan accompanied his father, the prominent folklorist John Lomax, on trips to collect folk songs from prisoners, laborers, and cowboys.

As he matured and developed his own professional identity, Alan Lomax also collected oral histories about the stories behind the songs.

Lomax believed that oral traditions are critical to a nation’s literary and cultural heritage. He feared that modern technology and the commercial music industry would erode traditional practices and deplete musical diversity. Lomax's work to preserve folksong also provided individuals and communities with opportunities to share their creative traditions with a wider audience.

When Alan Lomax died in 2002, his collection included tens of thousands of musical recordings, preserved for future generations. A contemporary wrote, Alan "was in it for the music, not the money. His gift to all of us was to capture voice after voice, song after song that would have vanished into thin air otherwise."

More information about Alan Lomax and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.