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Moses and Frances Asch Collection

Creator:
Asch, Moses  Search this
Distler, Marian, 1919-1964  Search this
Folkways Records  Search this
Names:
Courlander, Harold, 1908-1996  Search this
Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967  Search this
Jenkins, Ella  Search this
Leadbelly, 1885-1949  Search this
Ramsey, Frederic, 1915-1995  Search this
Seeger, Pete, 1919-2014  Search this
Extent:
841 Cubic feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Business records
Correspondence
Phonograph records
Photographic prints
Audiotapes
Date:
1926-1986
bulk 1948-1986
Summary:
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.
Arrangement note:
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 rinzlerarchives@si.edu for more information.
Biographical/Historical note:
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.
Provenance:
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.
Restrictions:
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at rinzlerarchives@si.edu or (202) 633-7322 for additional information.
Rights:
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for additional information.
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Folk dance music  Search this
Electronic music  Search this
Oral interpretation of poetry  Search this
Oral interpretation of fiction  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Music -- 19th century  Search this
Music -- 18th century  Search this
Jazz  Search this
Folk music -- United States  Search this
World music  Search this
Sounds  Search this
Vocal music  Search this
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Business records
Correspondence
Phonograph records
Photographic prints
Audiotapes
Citation:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
CFCH.ASCH
See more items in:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection
Archival Repository:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-cfch-asch
Online Media:

Hopi tales [sound recording] : from Harold Courlander's book People of the short blue corn / told by Jack Moyles

Title:
Stories of the Hopi Indians
Author:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Moyles, Jack  Search this
Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings  Search this
Folkways Records  Search this
Physical description:
1 sound disc : digital ; 4 3/4 in
Type:
Sound recordings
Folklore
Place:
Arizona
Date:
2000
1971
[2000 or 2001?]
Call number:
E99.H7 C67 2000
disc 000429
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_747221

Ride with the sun [sound recording] : folktales from the Philipines, China, Iceland, Egypt & Brazil / read by Kathleen Danson Read

Title:
Stories from ride with the sun: an anthology of folk tales and stories from the United Nations
Performer:
Read, Kathleen Danson  Search this
Editor:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
Americans  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Date:
1956
Topic:
Tales  Search this
Folklore  Search this
Local number:
Folkways 7109
Folkways 109
Restrictions & Rights:
Access by appointment
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232619

Calypso and meringues [sound recording]

Recorder:
Ramsey, Frederic 1915-1995  Search this
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Performer:
Caresser (Musician)  Search this
Lord Invader 1914-1961  Search this
Macbeth the Great  Search this
Duke of Iron  Search this
Felix and His Internationals  Search this
Jazz Majestic Orchestra  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 10 in
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Haiti
Date:
1953
Topic:
Calypso (Music)  Search this
Merengues  Search this
Local number:
Folkways 6808
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232533

Haitian folk songs [sound recording] / sung by Lolita Cuevas ; arrangements and guitar by Frantz Casseus

Performer:
Cuevas, Lolita  Search this
Casséus, Frantz  Search this
Editor:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Recorder:
Asch, Moses  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 10 in
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Haiti
Date:
1953
Topic:
World music  Search this
Folk songs, Creole  Search this
Local number:
FLP 71476
Folkways 6811
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232536

Ring games from Alabama [sound recording] / recorded by Harold Courlander

Recorder:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Courlander, Emma  Search this
Commentator:
Tartt, Ruby Pickens 1880-1974  Search this
Performer:
Lilly's Chapel School  Search this
Brown's Chapel School  Search this
Pilgrim Church School  Search this
East York School  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 10 in
Culture:
African Americans  Search this
Americans  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Alabama
Date:
1953
Topic:
Children's songs  Search this
Circle games  Search this
Singing games  Search this
Local number:
Folkways 7004
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232602

Folk tales from West Africa [sound recording] : from The cow-tail switch / by Harold Courlander and George Herzog

Producer:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Creator:
Herzog, George 1901-1983  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 10 in
Culture:
Americans  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Africa, West
Date:
1951
Topic:
Tales  Search this
Folklore  Search this
Local number:
Folkways 7103
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232614

The world of man. [Vol.] 1 [sound recording] : his work / script and voicing by Harold Courlander

Narrator:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 10 in
Type:
Phonograph records
Date:
1956
Topic:
Work songs  Search this
Sounds  Search this
World music  Search this
Local number:
FLP 71586
Folkways 7431
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232645

Ashanti folk tales from Ghana [sound recording] : from The hat shaking dance and other tales from the Gold Coast / by Harold Courlander

Narrator:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
Ashanti (African people)  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Ghana
Date:
1959
Topic:
Ashanti (African people)--Folklore  Search this
Folklore  Search this
Tales  Search this
Local number:
FLP 71666
Folkways 7710
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232725

Spirituals with Dock Reed and Vera Hall Ward [sound recording] / recorded by Harold Courlander ; assisted by Ruby Pickens Tartt and Emma Courlander

Performer:
Reed, Dock  Search this
Hall, Vera 1906-1964  Search this
Producer:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Recorder:
Tartt, Ruby Pickens 1880-1974  Search this
Courlander, Emma  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 10 in
Culture:
African Americans  Search this
Americans  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
United States
Southern states
Alabama
Date:
1953
Topic:
Spirituals (Songs)  Search this
Folk songs, English  Search this
Folk music  Search this
Local number:
Folkways 2038
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_231505

Sonny Terry's washboard band [sound recording]

Performer:
Terry, Sonny  Search this
Commentator:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in. re-issue
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 10 in. original
Culture:
African Americans  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Music
Date:
1954
Topic:
Blues (Music)  Search this
Washboard band music  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Local number:
FW02006
Folkways 6
Folkways 2006
Restrictions & Rights:
Access by appointment
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_231527
Online Media:

Songs and dances of Norway [sound recording]

Commentator:
Sandvik, O. M. (Ole Mork) 1875-1976  Search this
Performer:
Roysland, Talleiv  Search this
Groven, Eivind  Search this
Brimi, Hans  Search this
Nyhus, Sven  Search this
Faremo, Sigrid  Search this
Harstad, Olav  Search this
Brenno, Ola  Search this
Dale, Johannes  Search this
Heggland, Olav  Search this
Tronsmo, Helene  Search this
Jordet, Ingeborg  Search this
Norlund, Gudrun Grave  Search this
Editor:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
Norwegians  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Norway
Date:
1954
Topic:
World music  Search this
Folk music  Search this
Folk dance music  Search this
Folk songs, Norwegian  Search this
Lullabies, Norwegian  Search this
Wedding music  Search this
Ballads, Norwegian  Search this
Local number:
FW04008
Folkways 4008
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_231768
Online Media:

Radio Programme. No. 3 [sound recording] : Courlander's almanac : familiar music in strange places / narrated and conceived by Harold Courlander

Commentator:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
United States
New York
Thailand
Portugal
Burma
Japan
Indonesia
Russia
Tahiti
Date:
1956
1950-1960
Topic:
Radio programs  Search this
Music appreciation  Search this
Local number:
FW03863
Folkways 3863
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_231985
Online Media:

Drums of Haiti [sound recording] / recorded ... by Harold Courlander

Recorder:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
Haitians  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Haiti
Date:
1950
Topic:
World music  Search this
Folk music  Search this
Local number:
FW04403
Folkways 4403
Folkways 403
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232172
Online Media:

Folk music of Ethiopia [sound recording]

Commentator:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Ethiopia
Eritrea
Date:
1951
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Folk songs, Ethiopic  Search this
World music  Search this
Local number:
FW04405
Folkways 4405
Folkways 405
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232174

Music of Indonesia [sound recording]

Editor:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Performer:
Batoebara, Ropaoen  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
Indonesians  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Music
Place:
Indonesia
Java (Indonesia)
Sumatra (Indonesia)
Bali (Indonesia : Province)
Malaya
Date:
1950
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Local number:
FW04406
Folkways 4406
Folkways 406
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232175

Folk music of Haiti [sound recording] / recorded ... by Harold Courlander

Recorder:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Performer:
Lavache, Morgina  Search this
Borderau, Libera  Search this
Yogan, Ti  Search this
Belvue, LaFrance  Search this
Hibbert, Lena  Search this
Servers, Dimervil  Search this
Francois, Aleanne  Search this
Derosier, Edgar  Search this
Oxilas, Christophe  Search this
Bellis, Sigbrien  Search this
Macelise, Veneise  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
Haitians  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Haiti
Date:
1951
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Fok songs, French  Search this
Folk dance music  Search this
Local number:
FW04407
Folkways 4407
Folkways 407
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232176
Online Media:

Cult music of Cuba [sound recording] / recorded ... by Harold Courlander

Recorder:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
Cubans  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Cuba
Date:
1951
1964
1951, 1964
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Cults  Search this
Local number:
FW04410
Folkways 4410
Folkways 410
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232179
Online Media:

Music of Spain [sound recording]

Producer:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Performer:
Estaras, Bartoleme  Search this
Lanas, Raimundo  Search this
Fernandez, Virgilio  Search this
Gonzalez, D.  Search this
Martinez, Jose  Search this
Alvarez, Obdulia  Search this
Alverez, Angel  Search this
El De Badajoz, Manola  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
Spaniards  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Place:
Spain
Date:
1951
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Folk songs, Spanish  Search this
Local number:
FW04411
Folkways 4411
Folkways 411
Restrictions & Rights:
Restrictions on access
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232180
Online Media:

Negro folk music of Alabama. Vol. 1 [sound recording] : secular

Recorder:
Courlander, Harold 1908-1996  Search this
Performer:
Brown, Joe  Search this
Amerson, Rich  Search this
Smith, "Red" Willie  Search this
Hall, Vera 1906-1964  Search this
Coleman, Earthy Anne  Search this
Hill, Archie Lee  Search this
Turner, Willie  Search this
Dodson, Annie Grace Horn  Search this
East York School  Search this
Lilly's Chapel School  Search this
Physical description:
1 phonograph record : analog, 33 1/3 rpm ; 12 in
Culture:
African Americans  Search this
Americans  Search this
Type:
Phonograph records
Songs and music
Place:
United States
Date:
1951
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Railroads  Search this
Blues (Music)  Search this
Circle games  Search this
Lullabies  Search this
Work songs  Search this
Local number:
FW04417
Folkways P417
Folkways 4417
Restrictions & Rights:
Access by appointment
See more items in:
Folkways Records Collection 1948-1986
Data Source:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_232186

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