Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings

Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings

Louisiana Folklore Society board of director Dr. Joshua Caffery, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies. Caffery will move to D.C. in September with his family for the one-year appointment where he will further his scholarship via the expansive 20th century musicological work of the father/son team of Alan and John Lomax, whose studies of American folk music comprise the largest-ever collected body of field recordings, including exhaustive studies of Louisiana’s indigenous music in the 1930s.?? Caffery holds a Ph.D. from UL Lafayette and is also an accomplished musician, having played in such notable groups as the Red Stick Ramblers and the Grammy-nominated Feufollet. He’s also, just in general, a stand-up guy and son of renowned photographer Debbie Fleming Caffery.?? “Alan Lomax believed that certain areas of the country had unique cultural resources that should be conserved for future generations,” explains Caffery in a press release touting the fellowship. “I plan to help continue that vision.” His soon-to-be-released book, Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings, is published by LSU Press. ??Adds Caffery: “For me, having the chance to study the recordings at the Library of Congress is like a Biblical scholar having access to the Dead Sea Scrolls.” To purchase, go to:

Out of the Shadow of Leprosy

Out of the Shadow of Leprosy
By our Member Claire Manes

In this June 1919 picture Edmond G. Landry, a veteran of World War I, was a husband and the father of a four month old daughter, Leonide “Teenie” Landry.  Life was good for him and his wife Claire.  Dedication to hard work, family and his religious faith defined his life.  But already the leprosy bacillus was invading his life.  Only one month later in July 1919 his brother Norbert would enter the Louisiana Leper’s Home in Carville, Louisiana the forerunner of the federal hospital and by 1924 Edmond would   himself become voluntarily incarcerated at the United States Public Health Services Hospital.  The two brothers were the first of their family to be isolated in Carville.  In the 1930s and 40s, Amelie, Marie, and Albert followed their brothers to the hospital for treatment.  Out of the Shadow of Leprosy is Edmond’s story written from his letters by me, his only granddaughter, who was born thirteen years after his death.  It is published by University Press of Mississippi and is set for release in May 2013.  It will be available through Barnes and Noble, University Press of Mississippi, area bookstores and



Cajun Women and Mardi Gras
From our Member Folklorist, Carolyn E. Ware

Cajun Women and Mardi Gras is the first book to explore the importance of women’s contributions to the country Cajun Mardi Gras tradition, or Mardi Gras “run.” Most Mardi Gras runs–masked begging processions through the countryside, led by unmasked capitaines–have customarily excluded women. Male organizers explain that this rule protects not only the tradition’s integrity but also women themselves from the event’s rowdy, often drunken, play.

Throughout the last century, and especially in the last fifty years, women in some prairie communities have insisted on taking more active and public roles in the festivities. Carolyn E. Ware traces the history of women’s participation as it has expanded from supportive roles as cooks and costume makers to increasingly public performances as Mardi Gras clowns and (in at least one community) capitaines. Drawing on more than a decade of fieldwork interviews and observation in Mardi Gras communities, Ware focuses on the festive actions in Tee Mamou and Basile to reveal how women are reshaping the celebration as creative artists and innovative performers.

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Carville: Remembering Leprosy in America
From our Member Folklorist, Marcia Gaudet

Mysterious and misunderstood, distorted by biblical imagery of disfigurement and uncleanness, Hansen’s disease or leprosy has all but disappeared from America’s consciousness. In Carville, Louisiana, the closed doors of the nation’s last center for the treatment of leprosy open to reveal stories of sadness, separation, and even strength in the face of what was once a life-wrenching diagnosis.

Drawn from interviews with living patients and extensive research in the leprosarium’s archives, Carville: Remembering Leprosy in America tells the stories of former patients at the National Hansen’s Disease Center. For over a century, from 1894 until 1999, Carville was the site of the only in-patient hospital in the continental United States for the treatment of Hansen’s disease, the preferred designation for leprosy.

Patients-exiled there by law for treatment and for separation from the rest of society-reveal how they were able to cope with the devastating blow the diagnosis of leprosy dealt them. Leprosy was so frightening and so poorly understood that entire families would suffer and be shunned if one family member contracted the disease. When patients entered Carville, they typically left everything behind, including their legal names and their hopes for the future.

Former patients at Carville give their views of the outside world and of the culture they forged within the treatment center, which included married and individual living quarters, a bar, and even a jail. Those quarantined in the leprosarium created their own Mardi Gras celebrations, their own newspaper, and their own body of honored stories in which fellow sufferers of Hansen’s disease prevailed over trauma and ostracism. Through their memories and stories, we see their very human quest for identity and endurance with dignity, humor, and grace.

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LA Folktales

Louisiana Folktales
From our Member Folklorist, Alceé Fortier

This collection constitutes the first complete anthology of the folktales collected by linguist/historian Alceé Fortier, including complete facsimiles of the original 1985 edition of Louisiana Folktales, as well as facsimiles of the stories published in the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America and the Journal of American Folklore. Each selection is rendered in Creole French and English translation and includes Fortier’s original notes.

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Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana
From our Member Folklorist, Maida Owens

Here are more than two hundred oral tales from some of Louisiana’s finest storytellers. In this comprehensive volume of great range are transcriptions of narratives in many genres, from diverse voices, and from all regions of the state. Told in settings ranging from the front porch to the festival stage, these tales proclaim the great vitality and variety of Louisiana’s oral narrative traditions. Given special focus are Harold Talbert, Lonnie Gray, Bel Abbey, Ben Guiné, and Enola Matthews–whose wealth of imagination, memory, and artistry demonstrates the depth as well as the breadth of the storyteller’s craft. For tales told in Cajun and Creole French, Koasati, and Spanish, the editors have supplied both the original language and English translation. To the volume Maida Owens has contributed an overview of Louisiana’s folk culture and a survey of folklife studies of various regions of the state. Car Lindahl’s introduction and notes discuss the various genres and styles of storytelling common in Louisiana and link them with the worldwide are of the folktale.

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