Library of Congress' Voices of the Dust Bowl Electronic Collection Debuts

Article excerpt

The Library of Congress has announced that Voices of the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection is now available from the American Memory Program at http://www.loc.gov.

This ethnographic field collection documents the everyday life of residents of Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California in 1940 and 1941. It contains audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, and ephemera generated during two separate documentation trips supported by the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture), which is part of the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center.

Charles Todd and Robert Sonkin, both of the City College of New York (currently the City College of the City University of New York), took disc recording equipment supplied by the Archive of American Folk Song to the California cities of Arvin, Bakersfield, El Rio, Firebaugh, Porterville, Shafter, Thornton, Visalia, Westley, and Yuba City. There, they documented dance tunes, cowboy songs, traditional ballads, square dance and play party calls, camp council meetings, camp court proceedings, conversations, storytelling sessions, and personal experience narratives of the Dust Bowl refugees who inhabited the camps. …