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NPR Soundprint Airs "Voices of the Dust Bowl"

Features Work of Hamilton Alumnus and Speech Professor Charles "Lafe" Todd '33

By Sharon Rippey 315-859-4672  |  Contact Sharon Rippey 315-859-4672
Posted July 12, 2004
Tags Hamilton In the News

The National Public Radio program Soundprint aired "Voices of the Dust Bowl"  about migrant farm workers from the '30s and '40s. The segment includes the work of Charles "Lafe" Todd '33, professor of speech, emeritus, who recorded "dance tunes, cowboy songs, traditional ballads, square dance and play party calls, camp council meetings, camp court proceedings, conversations, storytelling sessions and personal-experience narratives of the Dust Bowl refugees who inhabited the camps."

Soundprint description of the program: "Many of the Oakies and Arkies who poured into California at the height of the Dust Bowl ended up in migrant camps set up by the federal government. ... Our program tells their stories - about why they left, conditions along the way, life in the camps, and what life was like for a rural farmer back home." (On Soundprint's Web site Voices of the Dust Bowl may be heard using Real Player.)

According to the Library of Congress Web site where Voices from the Dust Bowl is housed, Todd's project "consists of audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, and ephemera generated during two separate documentation trips supported by the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center)."

Todd and his colleague Robert Sonkin,  "took disc recording equipment supplied by the Archive of American Folk Song to Arvin, Bakersfield, El Rio, Firebaugh, Porterville, Shafter, Thornton, Visalia, Westley, and Yuba City, California. In these locales, they documented dance tunes, cowboy songs, traditional ballads, square dance and play party calls, camp council meetings, camp court proceedings, conversations, storytelling sessions, and personal experience narratives of the Dust Bowl refugees who inhabited the camps."

 

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