The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949 Page: 132
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
was twice ousted by politics from the positions he held at The
University of Texas. It is the success story of a man whose business
career ended in the stock market crash of the thirties, leaving
him in broken health, his savings gone, and with four motherless
children. Even more, it is the success story of a man who tried
to elect a Republican governor in the state of Texas. The true
measure of his success is in the justification of his faith in the
importance of American folk music; in the five volumes of song
he collected alone and with the collaboration of his son Alan;
and in the more than 1o,ooo recordings he contributed to the
Library of Congress, Archive of American Folksong, which,
before he began his work in 1933, had not one recording of
Afoot, on horseback, by train, or in an overloaded Ford with
a four-hundred-pound recording machine installed in the back,
Lomax visited forty-seven states, all except North Dakota. He
took his recording machine to rural churches, to work camps, to
saloons, and to penitentiaries. The Southern penitentiaries proved
to be the most fruitful source of Negro music. With Alan or with
one of his Negro parolees, Lead Belly and Iron Head, Lomax
saw 25,000 Negro convicts in eleven penitentiaries. Besides the
spirituals and the jazz he uncovered a great number and variety
of work songs. There were steel-driving songs, log-cutting songs,
cotton-picking songs, levee songs, songs of the bloodhound track-
ing the fleeing Negro through the river bottom, and songs of
"Black Betty," the chain gang cap'n's whip.
Lomax tells how he came upon some of the cowboy songs that
have become favorites not only in the West but in all sections
of the country. For instance, "Home on the Range" was one of
a group of songs recorded by a Negro saloonkeeper under a
mesquite tree behind a saloon in San Antonio's west side district.
First printed in Cowboy Songs and Ballads in 191o, the basic
melody runs through the many sheet music versions that have
since been published, and the words, except for a little rephrasing
of unmetrical lines, have remained the same.
Adventures of a Ballad Hunter is entertaining reading whether
or not one is a devotee of folk music. In the West Lomax sat with
the cowboys around the campfire; in the South he was a privi-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949, periodical, 1949; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/m1/140/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.