Wayfaring Stranger: Sidney Robertson, American Folk Music, and the Resettlement Administration, 1936–37 Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Horn, Samantha
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music, Musicology Graduate Program
  • During the 1930s, the United States government operated a variety of folk music collecting initiatives through New Deal agencies, ranging from academic archival projects to the more utilitarian efforts of the Resettlement Administration (RA), which sponsored field recordings of folk musicians in an attempt to boost morale and political awareness among displaced workers. Focusing on the work of Sidney Robertson, who recorded folk musicians for the RA from 1936–37, this thesis examines the relationship between the RA folk music program and broader trends in both academic folklore studies and United States politics in the late 1930s. Infusing the activity of field recording with a sense of social responsibility derived from leftist politics, Robertson’s RA recordings represented a novel turn in American elites’ engagement with folk music, rejecting ideological and methodological tenets long central to folklore studies in favor of more dynamic understandings of both folk music and ethnographic recording.
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  • In Copyright
  • Vandermeer, Philip
  • Garcia, David
  • Neal, Jocelyn
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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