John and Alan Lomax
John Lomax’s earliest Kentucky travels included a 1932 visit to Berea College where he lectured about his cowboy-song collecting and sought out mountain ballads from faculty and students. He returned in 1933 under the auspices of the Library of Congress' Archive of American Folk Song and with eighteen-year-old son Alan; the pair stopped in Harlan County, where they made their first sound recordings in the state.
Alan returned with his wife Elizabeth for an extensive trip through ten eastern counties in 1937, and visited twice more on behalf of the Library in 1938 and 1942.
In 1934 John A. Lomax was appointed Honorary Consultant and Curator of the Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress, a title he held until his death in 1948. Alan Lomax served as Assistant In Charge of the Archive of Folk Song from 1937 to 1942. The American Folklife Center, of which the archive is now part, is the physical repository of all of the recordings made by the Lomaxes in this era, in Kentucky and many other states, as well as in the Bahamas and Haiti. The Lomax Collection at the AFC also contains the many hundreds of tape recordings, photographs, and moving images Alan Lomax compiled after his departure from the Library of Congress in 1944 to his retirement in the mid-1990s. These later collections are administered and made available online by the Association for Cultural Equity, the non-profit research center that Alan Lomax founded in 1983.