The Autry Museum has posted a collection of old, Spanish songs recorded in the early 20th century in California. Charles Lummis, founder of Los Angeles' Southwest Museum, created the cache to capture what he felt were the vanishing folkways of old California. What's fascinating is that Lummis saw his work as archaeology and recognized that the new recording technology of the day could be used to create artifacts that could be considered as such. He wrote an article in 1905 explaining his endeavor entitled, "Catching Archaeology Alive."
If you head to the site, my favorite song is first on their list, Blanca Paloma, sung by Manuela Garcia. Here's her quick bio:
One of the most prolific singers was Manuela García, whose family lived in an adobe on South Olive Street in Los Angeles. In 1904 and 1905, García recorded approximately 150 songs for Lummis. (In the records, there are several statements for payments to Garcia for between $4.00 and $20.00) Musicologist John Koegel has theorized that many of the songs García recorded are more recent in California, having arrived with Mexican immigrants in the second half of the 19th Century. In addition to singing for Lummis, García gave him her notebook containing the words to 149 songs. During recordings, García was accompanied by a blind guitarist of Mexican descent named Rosendo Uruchurtu.
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