This collection, which dates from 1926-1986, documents the output of Moses Asch through the various record labels he founded and co-founded, and includes some of his personal papers. The Asch collection includes published recordings, master tapes, outtakes, business records, correspondence, photographs, and film.
Scope and Contents:
The Moses and Frances Asch Collection measures 841 cubic feet and dates from 1926-1987, with some contemporary, relevant correspondence, clippings, and ephemera added after 1987.
Most of the collection consists of audio recordings (commercial 78 rpm and long-playing records, open reel tapes, acetate discs, and test pressings), correspondence with recording artists and producers, artwork, photographs, ephemera, clippings, record production materials, writings, and business papers relating to Folkways Records. Materials relating to Folkways Records can be found primarily in the Correspondence, Folkways Production, Business Records, Photographs, Artwork, Sound Recordings, and Film series.
The collection also contains some biographical materials and personal correspondence, including materials related to Asch's first business, Radio Laboratories, located in the Biographical Materials series. Correspondence, ephemera, photographs, record production materials, business papers, and recordings relating to Asch's record labels before Folkways Records (Asch Recordings, Disc Company of America, Cub Records) are located in the Early Label Materials series as well as the Audio Recordings and Photographs series.
The collection is arranged in 10 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1942-1987
Series 2: Folkways Production, 1946-1987
Series 3: Business Records, 1940-1987
Series 4: Woody Guthrie papers, 1927-1985
Series 5: Early Label Materials, 1940-1949
Series 6: Biographical Materials, 1926-1987
Series 7: Photographs
Series 8: Artwork
Series 9: Audio Recordings
Series 10: Film
At this time, the collection is partially processed. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The son of Yiddish writer Sholem Asch, Moses Asch was born in Poland in 1905. His childhood was spent in Poland, France, Germany, and New York. While young, Asch developed an interest in radio electronics, which ultimately lead him to his life's work, recording the music and sounds of the world. He established several record labels in succession, sometimes partnering with other record companies. Two of his fist record companies, Asch Recordings and DISC Co. of America, went bankrupt. They were followed by his best-known label, Folkways Records, which was founded in 1948 with Marian Distler (1919-1964). He was still working on Folkways recordings when he died in 1986.
Folkways Records sought to document the entire world of sound. The 2,168 titles Asch released on Folkways include traditional and contemporary music from around the world, spoken word in many languages, and documentary recordings of individuals, communities, and current events. Asch's business practices revolved around the commitment to keep every recording issued by Folkways in print, despite low sales. Asch stayed afloat by cutting costs where he could (such as color printing) and offering a high-quality product, meticulously recorded and accompanied by extensive liner notes. In doing this, he could charge a slightly higher price than other commercial outfits. Despite a tenuous relationship with financial solvency, Folkways grew to be not only one of the most important independent record companies in the United States in the 20th century, but also one of the largest and most influential record companies in the world.
Moses Asch's record labels featured famous and lesser known American writers, poets, documentarians, ethnographers, and grass roots musicians on commercial recordings. American folk icon Woody Guthrie recorded on the Asch, Disc, and Folkways labels, and the Asch Collection includes some of his correspondence, lyrics, drawings, and writings. The collection also includes correspondence with other notable musicians and artists such as John Cage, Langston Hughes, Margaret Walker, Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, Pete Seeger, Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Alan Lomax, Henry Cowell, and Kenneth Patchen. Also in the collection are ethnographic field notes and photographs by as well as correspondence with Béla Barók, Sidney Robertson Cowell, Harold Courlander, Helen Creighton, Laura Boulton, and Samuel Charters. Asch hired various prominent artists and graphic designers including David Stone Martin, Ben Shahn, John Carlis, and Ronald Clyne to create album cover art for his recordings. Much of the original art and designs for these covers can be found in the Asch Collection.
Asch's output of recordings on various labels, including published recordings, open reel master tapes, outtakes, and acetate disks, in addition to his business papers, correspondence, photographs, and other files were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987. The collection came to the Smithsonian with the understanding that all 2168 titles under the Folkways label would be kept available in perpetuity.
Ralph Rinzler arranged the Smithsonian's acquisition of the Moses and Frances Asch Collection in 1987, beginning with Asch before his death in 1986 and continuing with extensive discussions between Rinzler and the Asch family. Since its acquisition, archivist Jeff Place and others have added contemporary, relevant correspondence with Folkways artists and related individuals.
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at email@example.com or (202) 633-7322 for additional information.
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for additional information.
3.83 Cubic feet (8 binders containing contact sheets, slides, and prints; 7 boxes (8.5"x10.75"x2.5") of 35 mm negatives; 2 binders of 35 mm and 120 format negatives; and 1 box of 11 oversize prints.)
New York (N.Y.)
Saint Simons Island (Ga. : Island)
The Diana Davies photographs consist of images taken by Diana Davies at various stages of her career. Locations include the Festival of American Folklife, the Newport Folk Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Poor People's Campaign, various peace and protest marches and outdoor performances, New York City, and the Georgia Sea Islands. The collection includes contact sheets, negatives, photographic prints, and slides.
Original photographs, negatives, and color slides taken by Diana Davies. Materials date from 1963-2009. Bulk dates: Newport Folk Festival, 1963-1969, 1987, 1992; Philadelphia Folk Festival, 1967-1968, 1987.
Scope and Contents:
The Diana Davies photographs, 1963-2009, consist of black and white negatives, contact sheets and prints, as well as color slides and negatives. The bulk of materials depict major festivals and protest movements (including the Poor People's March of 1968) documented by Diana Davies (located in Series 1: Newport Folk Festival, Series 2: Philadelphia Folk Festival, Series 6: Festival of American Folklife, and Series 11: Social Justice). Also well-represented are non-festival performances (in locations such as clubs, concert halls, and homes), recording sessions, and other music-related images, mainly of notable figures in the American folk music revival (located in Series 3: Broadside Magazine, Series 4: Sing Out! Magazine Concerts, Series 5: Miscellaneous Concerts and People, Series 7: Recording Sessions, Series 8: Instruction Book Shots, and Series 9: Jazz, Blues, and Salsa Musicians). Series 10: Georgia Sea Islands consists of photographs depicting the culture, environment, and daily life of these coastal islands in 1966. Series 12: New York City Scenes contains photographs taken on the street depicting everyday life in NYC in the 1960s and 1970s. The collection also contains related papers in Series 13: Miscellaneous Papers and Correspondence.
Each item in the Diana Davies Photographs has been assigned an accession number, and like materials have been put together such as the Newport Folk Festival photographs, in a chronological sequence as much as possible. Materials in the three more recent donation batches (1998, 2004, and 2006) were numbered and integrated into the collection. In some series, the accession numbers are in numerical order, and in others, the numbers are random because like items with different number sequences were pulled together in a series for subject coherence. The best way to find occurrences of a particular subject is to use the ctrl+F function. Please consult the archivists if you have any questions about the collection contents.
Contact sheets, slides, and prints arranged in 8 binders; negatives and oversize prints are stored separately.
Arranged in 14 series:
Series 1: Newport Folk Festival
Series 2: Philadelphia Folk Festival
Series 3: Broadside Magazine
Series 4: -- Sing Out! -- Magazine Concerts
Series 5: Miscellaneous Concerts and People
Series 6: Festival of American Folklife
Series 7: Recording Sessions
Series 8: Instruction Book Shots
Series 9: Jazz, Blues, and Salsa Musicians
Series 10: Georgia Sea Islands
Series 11: Social Justice
Series 12: New York City Scenes
Series 13: Miscellaneous Papers and Correspondence
Series 14: Oversize Materials
Diana Davies is a well-known photographer of folk performers and festivals. Davies photographed the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in its earlier years. Born in 1938, Davies grew up in Maine, the Catskills, New York City, and Boston. Her grandparents were local union organizers and Debs socialists; one grandfather was a gandy dancer with the railroad, and her grandmother was a textile worker in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. Davies finds that her family background was later expressed in her own activist efforts.
Davies left high school at 16, and worked sweeping out coffeehouses, which gave her the opportunity to listen to music while she worked. She became interested in theater and music. In Greenwich Village, she began doing some sound technician work, and then got interested in photography. She taught herself how to develop and print photographs in a darkroom, and began photographing in theaters, shooting from behind the scenes. Her theater photos are at Smith College in Northampton, where she presently lives. In the early 1960s, she began working with the editors of Broadside Magazine, Sis Cunningham and Gordon Friesen. She developed an interest in human rights work, which grew from her contact with Sis and Gordon, and also her own family background. She also worked as a photographer in a wide range of settings, including night clubs, weddings, and doing portrait photography. This led her to work for major national and international media including the New York Times, covering such events as the war in Biafra, and traveling to Mexico, Cuba, and Portugal on assignment.
Davies' folk photographs represent about one-quarter of her body of work; her other major photographic work includes the Civil Rights Movement, the Peace Movement, and theater. Davies began photographing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, which she covered for a number of years. She knew Ralph Rinzler, and found him a vibrant, alive person excited by all aspects of culture. He introduced her to Bessie Jones from the Georgia Sea Islands, and in 1966 she made a photographic journey to the islands. Her work from this trip is included in the collection. Davies has also been a musician. She became involved with the punk rock movement of the 1970s, and felt that there was a connection between the hard-hitting songs from the punk world and the songs being published in Broadside Magazine. In 1975, she became part of a folk/punk women's band in Boston, and later moved to Western Massachusetts. In addition to being a photographer and musician, Davies is also a writer. She wrote a play entitled "The Witch Papers" in 1980, which was produced in Boston and other locations. The play was a vehicle for her human rights activism, comparing the technology of inquisition with labor sweatshops. In 1998, her play "The War Machine" was produced in Amherst, Mass. She lives in Northampton, and enjoys and participates in street performance, which she describes as the "most essentially communicative stuff you can come up with."
All contact sheets from the collection are digitized and accessible through this finding aid. Series-level slideshows accessible through this finding aid represent a small sampling from the collection.
The Smithsonian Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections acquired portions of the Diana Davies Photograph Collection in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Ms. Davies photographed for the Festival of American Folklife. More materials came to the Archives circa 1989 or 1990. Archivist Stephanie Smith visited her in 1998 and 2004, and brought back additional materials which Ms. Davies wanted to donate to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. These two more recent donations of additional photographs (contact sheets, prints, and slides) consisted of documentation of the Newport Folk Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Poor People's March on Washington, the Civil Rights Movement, the Georgia Sea Islands, and miscellaneous personalities of the American folk revival. In a letter dated 12 March 2002, Ms. Davies gave full discretion to the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to grant permission for both internal and external use of her photographs, with the provison that her work be credited in any use.
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at 202-633-7322 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Permission for the duplication or publication of items in the Diana Davies Photograph Collection must be obtained from the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.
Copyright restrictions apply. Please contact the archives staff for further information.
The collection documents George Eaton Simpson's fieldwork in Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Nigeria from 1936-1964. There are 704 images in several formats including negatives, prints, and slides. The photographs were primarily made by Simpson, but a few were made by Frederic Ramsey, Jr. Ramsey's prints are stamped on verso with his name. Many prints and slides are annotated by Simpson.
The collection also includes a few reprints of articles based on Simpson's field work and words and musical transcription from Savalou Ricourt, a musician of Port au Prince in 1937.
The collection is arranged into six series:
1. Haiti, 1936-1937
2. Jamaica, 1953, 1957
3. Trinidad, 1960
4. Nigeria, 1964
5. Lantern slides, undated
6. Publications, 1940-1987
George Eaton Simpson (1904-1998) was an anthropologist whose focus was the various social aspects of Caribbean religions. He wrote over 60 articles and books, and taught sociology and anthropology at Oberlin College from 1947-1971.
Born in Knoxville, Iowa, Simpson received his B.S. from Coe College in 1926, his M.A. from the University of Missouri in 1927, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1934. In 1947 he began teaching at Oberlin College in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. In addition to teaching classes, Simpson served on numerous committees and as department chair.
Simpson conducted fieldwork in the Caribbean, specifically Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad, and Nigeria. He focused primarily on Caribbean religions such as Vodun in Haiti, Rastafarianism in Jamaica, and the Spiritual Baptists in Trinidad. His fieldwork has been documented in numerous articles and books, including "The Vodun Service in Northern Haiti", "The Shango Cult in Nigeria and Trinidad", and Black Religions in the New World. He occasionally collaborated on articles with fellow anthropologists Joseph G. Moore and J. Milton Yinger. He also served as a visiting professor at several leading universities.
He was the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Wellcome Medal for Anthropological Research, the Anisfield-Wolf Award in Race Relations (with J. Milton Yinger), Doctor of Humane Letters – Oberlin College, and Doctor of Humane Letters – Coe College.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 93-14
Additional photographs from Simpson are held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 2001-24.
The George Eaton Simpson Film Study of Plaisance, Haiti, 1937, accession No. 92.12.1 in the Smithsonian Institution Human Film Studies Archives contains silent black and white film footage of Plaisance, Haiti shot by Simpson and his colleagues. The footage contains events also depicted in the photograph collection including work coumbites, marketplace scenes, a wedding ceremony, a funeral, drumming and dancing at a social gathering, and a dancing demonstration. Included in this accession are 21 audiotapes recorded by Simpson and Joseph G. Moore during their fieldwork in Jamaica and Trinidad.
The Joseph G. Moore Collection: Jamaican Revival and Kumina, 1957-1958, accession No. 92.1.1 in the Smithsonian Institution Human Film Studies Archives contains related material to Simpson's study of Jamaican Revival Zion and Kumina. The collection contains film footage of Morant Bay and West Kingston, Jamaica shot in 1957. The footage was originally intended for the "Odyssey" program or possibly a short feature. Some of the it ended up being featured on the CBS program "Lamp Unto My Feet" which also includes interviews with Joseph G. Moore and George Eaton Simpson. There is over 10 hours of footage, and in 1992 Simpson, Smithsonian Institution Human Film Studies Archives Director John Homiak, and research associate Ken Bilby recorded approximately 10 hours of commentary about the footage. This collection also contains audio recordings made in 1993 of a discussion between Simpson, Homiak, and Bilby concerning the relation of Jamaican Revival with Rastafari.
Sound recordings by Simpson held in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections in the Folkways Records Collection and the Moses and Frances Asch Collection.
Oberlin College has a manuscript collection of George Eaton Simpson's papers (RG 30/64) that document Simpson's research and academic work.
The collection was donated to the National Anthropoligical Archives by George E. Simpson in 1992.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
The negatives are in cold storage and require advanced notice to access.