Lost Delta Found: Rediscovering the Fisk University-Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942

Lost Delta Found: Rediscovering the Fisk University-Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942

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Lost Delta Found: Rediscovering the Fisk University-Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942 by John W. Work, Lewis Wade Jones, Samuel C. Adams Jr.

This remarkable book recovers three invaluable perspectives, long thought to have been lost, on the culture and music of the Mississippi Delta.

In 1941 and '42 African American scholars from Fisk University--among them the noted composer and musicologist John W. Work, sociologist Lewis Wade Jones, and graduate student Samuel C. Adams, Jr.--joined folklorist Alan Lomax of the Library of Congress on research trips to Coahoma County, Mississippi. Their mission was to explore the musical habits and history of the black community there and "to document adequately the cultural and social backgrounds for music in the community." Among the fruits of the project were the earliest recordings by the legendary blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters. The hallmark of the study was to have been a joint publication of its findings by Fisk and the Library of Congress. However, the field notes and manuscripts by the Fisk researchers became lost in Washington. Lomax's own book drawing on the project's findings, The Land Where the Blues Began, did not appear until 1993, and although it won a National Book Critics Circle Award, it was flawed by a number of historical inaccuracies.

Recently uncovered by author and filmmaker Robert Gordon, the writings, interviews, notes, and musical transcriptions produced by Work, Jones, and Adams in the Coahoma County study now appear in print for the first time. Their work captures, with compelling immediacy, a place, a people, a way of life, and a set of rich musical traditions as they existed sixty years ago. Until the surfacing of these documents, Lomax's perspective was all that was known of the Coahoma County project and its research. Now, at last, the voices of the other contributors can be heard.

Including essays by Bruce Nemerov and Gordon on the careers and contributions of Work, Jones, and Adams, Lost Delta Found will become an indispensable historical resource, as marvelously readable as it is enlightening.

Illustrated with photos and more than 160 musical transcriptions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826514851
Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press
Publication date: 08/28/2005
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

John W. Work (1901-1966) was a gifted composer and educator. One of the first African American academics to argue the value of African American folk music, he preserved this heritage both in his book, American Negro Songs and Spirituals, and through his work with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, which he directed from 1947 until 1956. He retired from Fisk University in 1966

Lewis Wade Jones (1910-1979) was an instructor in the Department of Social Sciences at Fisk University from 1932 to 1942, where he worked closely with Charles S. Johnson. In 1949 the two co-wrote A Statistical Analysis of Southern Counties: Shifts in the Negro Population of Alabama. After leaving Fisk, Jones moved to the Tuskegee Institute School of Education, where he was a professor of sociology.

After receiving his master's degree from Fisk University, Samuel C. Adams, Jr. (1920-2001) attended the University of Chicago, where he received his PhD in 1953. He had a long and distinguished career in public service, highlighted by his appointment to the post of Ambassador to the Republic of Niger in 1968-1969

Robert Gordon is the author of Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters, among other books. He directed the PBS documentary "Muddy Waters: Can't Be Satisfied" and was writer on the Memphis episode of Martin Scorsese's "The Blues" series.

Bruce Nemerov was a professional musician / record producer / composer from 1969-1991 before joining the Center for Popular Music at MTSU. He is also the author of the new book "The Story Behind the Song: 150 Songs That Chronicle the 20th Century" (Greenwood Press, 2004). Describes himself as "Born in the North / Raised in the South / Schooled out West / Ain't dead yet."

Table of Contents



Preface from Robert Gordone
Introductory Chapter from Gordon and Nemerov

Introduction to Jones by Nemerov
'The Mississippi Delta' by Lewis W. Jones

Introduction to Work by Nemerov.
John Work manuscript, untitled

The discussion of Charles Haffer includes three sheets of his broadsides.
158 music original transcriptions.

Introduction to Adams by Nemerov
'Changing Negro Life in the Delta' by Samuel C. Adams


1. The Natchez fire
2. A memorandum about the July trip to Coahoma County
3. Report on Preliminary Work in Clarksdale, Mississippi
4. Memorandum from Jones to Johnson
5. List of songs on Clarksdale jukeboxes



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