Alan Lomax Collection


Green Sally up

Other Form of Name

Lomax, Alan, 1915-2002


T895R02; FRID (Lomax Number) 3757

Creation Date



Como (Miss.); Panola County (Miss.)


The Lomaxes, and other collectors of their time and also decades later, found some of the most powerful vernacular music of the American South in the region's oppressive and violent prison system. The songs they found there, John and Alan Lomax wrote, 'or songs like them were formerly sung all over the South. With the coming of the machines, however, the work gangs were broken up. The songs then followed group labor into its last retreat, the road gang and the penitentiary' (Our singing country, 1941). Bruce Jackson, writing about prison song in the 1960s, explains 'Southern agricultural penitentiaries were in many respects replicas of nineteenth-century plantations, where groups of slaves did arduous work by hand, supervised by white men with guns and constant threat of awful physical punishment. It is hardly surprising that the music of plantation culture, the work songs, went to the prisons as well' (Big Brazos [Rounder 1826]). The tie-tamping and wood-cutting chants, field hollers, and the occasional blues, recorded by Alan Lomax on paper-backed tape at Mississippi's Parchman Farm Penitentiary in 1947 and on February 9, 1948, were anthologized on Tradition in 1958 as Negro Prison Songs, and released in 1997 in two volumes of Prison Songs in the Alan Lomax Collection (Rounder 1714 and 1715).

Subject Headings (Library of Congress)

Blues (Music); Blues musicians

Relational Format

audio recording



Original Collection

Alan Lomax Recordings


Como I 9/59. Lomax Classification: game song; children's song. Lomax Collection Title: Southern U.S. 1959 and 1960;. Session Note: Fife and drum tunes by Ed Young and his Southern Fife and Drum Corps (as they were billed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival), blues and religious pieces by Fred McDowell, string band pieces by Miles and Bob Pratcher, and game songs by young Pratcher cousins (editor's note). Location: Ed Young's Home (Como, Miss.)


Media files in this collection are owned by the Association for Cultural Equity and made available solely for personal use. Copy or capture of media files is prohibited. Due to copyright concerns, the recordings in this collection can only be accessed by arrangement with the Department of Archives and Special Collections.

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