One of the founding fathers
musicology. Lomax started when he was a boy
by transcribing cowboy songs
. He was discouraged
in his efforts at interesting fellow academic
s at the University of Texas
in his research so it was only after graduating from Harvard
that he was able to get funding
After stipulating that he needed a leave of absence before starting his tenure at the University of Texas Lomax set out across Texas with a "primitive recording device" (I have been unable to find out what exactly that "device" was. I will update this when I find out.) Lomax managed to get recordings of songs like "Home on the Range" to add to his collection. Eventually this was all documented in a book called "Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads".
After that book was finished John Lomax became the president of the American Folklore Society and gave lectures around the country.Lomax continued to make short trips with his wife when time permitted but by the time his son was born money was an issue so the searching for songs had to shelved temporarily.
After a long sickness and the death of his wife John decided to make another lecture tour in hopes of making some money. He had been sick for several months and lost his job as a result. He and his son Alan ended up the tour in New York City where they met with the publisher of John's earlier books and proposed another one. He ended up with another book contract and funding from the Library of Congress. A few months later he was back on the road with Alan and a 350 pound recording machine that he built into his car.
The Lomaxes spent that time mainly in prisons in the south trying to record as many of the work songs as possible. In the course of this they discovered Leadbelly who was a prisoner at the time and although there are a ton of legends about this it is generally believed that the Lomaxes had a lot to do with Leadbelly making parole.
After that trip the Lomaxes coauthored the book "American Ballads and Folk Songs" which lead to funding from the Carnegie Corporation and more funding for the Library of Congress Archive of American Folksong.
John Lomax moved to Washington DC to become the curator of the archive and was followed by Alan who became the first paid employee of the archive.
After years and years of work building up the archive, John Lomax retired and left Alan as the curator.