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Lorenzo Dow Turner Gullah Collection

Mende song transcription from Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect

Location: Georgia and South Carolina, Sea Islands; Gullah
Dates: 1932, 1933
Formats: 154 aluminum discs
Accession Number: 86-107-F

Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890-1972) was an African American linguist who came to be known as the father of Gullah studies following the 1949 publication of Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, the first major scientific description of Gullah. This volume, which continues to be a major resource, contains several transcriptions of Turner’s recordings. This work helped build a foundation for scholarship on the African diaspora and disputed the prevailing notion of the time that African American culture was simply a derivative of white American culture. Turner proved that there were significant cultural retentions of African cultures among African Americans. Additional fieldwork in the Caribbean, Brazil, and West Africa further substantiated these ideas.

The Archives of Traditional Music holds several collections of ethnographic and linguistic recordings made by Turner which were recorded on 836 aluminum and lacquer discs. The recordings made in the summers of 1932 and 1933 make up the Gullah collection of 154 aluminum discs and document sermons, work songs, stories, spirituals, and accounts of slavery among 50 Gullah speakers. The ATM also holds Turner's field recordings from Brazil, West Africa, South Louisiana, and various other parts of the United States. The Gullah collection has been digitally preserved as part of the Sound Directions Project.

Sample 1: A Mende song by Amelia Dawley. Harris Neck, Georgia.


Sample 2: A Prayer by Diana Brown.