Few figures deserve greater credit for the preservation of America's folk music traditions than Alan Lomax. Scouring the backroads, honky tonks, and work camps of the Deep South, he unearthed a treasure trove of songs and singers, documenting the music of the common man for future generations to discover; through Lomax's pioneering efforts, cultural traditions ranging from the Delta blues to Appalachian folk to field hollers continue to live on, with his invaluable recordings offering a compelling portrait of times and cultures otherwise long gone. The son of noted folklorist John A. Lomax, the nation's preeminent collector of cowboy songs, he was born January 15, 1915 in Austin, Texas; from childhood on he followed in his father's footsteps, assisting in song-gathering missions whenever possible. In 1932, John was contracted to assemble a book of folk songs, and soon he and Alan set out with a crude recording machine paid for by the Library of Congress; covering some 16,000 miles of the southeastern U.S. in just four months, they collected a wealth of African-American work songs, many of them recorded at various penitentiaries. Among the musicians the Lomaxes encountered during their travels that summer was a Louisiana prisoner named Huddie Ledbetter; they helped obtain his release, employing him as a chauffeur and making his first recordings. Ledbetter went on to fame under the name Leadbelly, and remains one of the true legends of American folk and blues. Beginning in 1933 and lasting through to 1942, Alan -- working alone as well as in conjunction with his father, writer Zora Neale Hurston, musicologist John Work. and others -- recorded folk and traditional music for the Library of Congress throughout the Deep South, as well as in New England, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, and Ohio. He also recorded in Haiti and the Bahamas, pioneering the archival study of world music which increased in the decades to follow, and in the field made the first-ever recordings of Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, and Aunt Molly Jackson. Concurrently, the Lomaxes teamed on a number of books, including 1934's American Ballads and Folksongs, 1936's Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Leadbelly, 1937's Cowboy Songs, and 1938's Our Singing Country.