The Folkways Catalogue and its Empty Spaces

The final edition of the Folkways catalogue listed over two thousand individual recordings, divided into categories based on genre, beginning with the 2000 series (American Series) and ending with the 9000 series (Language Special Series). A relatively small number of recordings, including stereo reissues and boxed sets, were assigned to numeric categories beyond the 9000 series.

Over the years new titles were added to each category but catalogue numbers were not always assigned in strict numerical sequence. In fact, Asch left gaps in the numbering system to reserve space for future recordings-recordings that, in his mind, would fit in very specific places. To illustrate, the first recording in the "International Series" section of the catalogue is assigned catalogue number 8451. It is followed by 8452, 8454, 8460, 8470, 8471, 8501, and so on, ending with catalogue number 8886. As a result, there are 136 titles in the International Series with space reserved for 299 additional recordings. By creating spaces within his catalogue and assuming new material would gradually be added, Asch seems to have envisioned Folkways as a library of sound and a reference for generations to come.

 
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Berkeley Farms image1Berkeley Farms image2Berkeley Farms image3
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Berkeley Farms

FW02436
1972
Globe Propaganda
George Hunter
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Beasties in the Sugar — The Spare Change Boys

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Brush script type for the title contrasts the simple, hard-edged image forms of this farm scene. The two colours and reversals of type, clouds, and sunrays, give the black, "cutout" silhouettes a sense of depth and space. The country image, which complements the bluegrass style of music on the album, also serves as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the complexity of cultures and countercultures that flourished in Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay area at the height of the hippie era.

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David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Mississippi Delta Bluesman image1David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Mississippi Delta Bluesman image2David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Mississippi Delta Bluesman image3
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David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Mississippi Delta Bluesman

FW03539
1979
Ronald Clyne
Anton J. Mikofsky
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Catfish Blues — David "Honeyboy" Edwards

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Selk'nam Chants of Tierra del Fuego

FW04176
1972
Ronald Clyne
Anne Chapman
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Shaman Chant No. 4 — Lola Kiepja

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The cover presents a memorable close-up photograph of Lola Kiepja taken by the album's producer, ethnologist Anne Chapman. According to Chapman, Lola Kiepja was the last person to speak the language of her people.

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The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro image1The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro image2The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro image3
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The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro

FW05527
1975
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Frederick Douglass' Oration Delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, July 5,1852 (Continued) - Ossie David — Ossie Davis

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Mexican Corridos

FW06913
1956
Irwin Rosenhouse
Irwin Rosenhouse
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El Arreglo Religioso: Pts. 1 and 2 — Cancioneros de Sonora

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Corridos are stories told in song. The simple, "primitivist" style used in the design transforms the figure of a Mexican revolutionary into the personification of death in a carnivalesque combination of playfulness and the macabre that evokes the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday, commemorating deceased ancestors.

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14 Numbers, Letters and Animal Songs image114 Numbers, Letters and Animal Songs image214 Numbers, Letters and Animal Songs image3
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14 Numbers, Letters and Animal Songs

FW07545
1972
Henry Post
Chris Davis
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Six Little Ducks — Alan Mills

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Davis' charming, child-like drawing of a rabbit in a windy landscape is defined by the striking yellow ground. The irregular, hand-printed style of the letterforms above reinforces the whimsical nature of the image.

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Entre Hermanas / Between Sisters image1Entre Hermanas / Between Sisters image2Entre Hermanas / Between Sisters image3
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Entre Hermanas / Between Sisters

FW08768
1977
Ronald Clyne
Elsa Garcia Pandavenes
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La Muñeca (The Doll) — Suni Paz

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The repeated, stylized woodcut in dark blue of singer Suni Paz in traditional dress appears against a backdrop of white. The vibrant pink of the lettering reinforces Paz's dedication of the album "to the many women who encouraged my work and inspired through their example my own struggle" (liner notes).

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The Poetry of Abraham Sutzkever

FW09947
1960
Irwin Rosenhouse
Marc Chagall
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Yiddishe Gass — Abraham Sutzkever

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This cover image is by Marc Chagall, who was a friend of Abraham Sutzkever, one of the great Yiddish poets. It illustrates Sutzkever's poem "Sibir," which describes his family's experience in Siberia. The poems present life in the Vilna Ghetto during World War II, the struggle to survive, and the atrocities committed against the Jewish people.

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone

FW31026
1968
Craig Meirop
Irwin Rosenhouse
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Where Have All the Flowers Gone? — Pete Seeger

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A literal, uncomplicated cover design reinforces the message of the title song. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," written in 1961, was based on an Irish tune and inspired by a few lines from an old Russian folk song. It has become one of Pete Seeger's signature songs and remains a simple, eloquent anthem for peace.

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Get on Board image1Get on Board image2
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Get on Board

FW32028
1952, 1980
Ronald Clyne
Walker Evans
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Raise a Ruckus Tonight — Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Coyal McMahan

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Bridge, Houses and Train. Philipsburg, New Jersey, 1935

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The World Music Theatre of Jon Appleton

FW33437
1974
Ronald Clyne
Lufti Ozkok
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Chef d'Oeuvre — Jon Appleton

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Linear forms of the typeface relate to the modulated sound of the electronic music on this album. Appleton's "hip," tinted sunglasses are rendered in a tone derived from the red "o's," a subtle play on the "apple" in his name and a visual device that commands the viewer's attention.

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Songs from the Depths of Hell image1Songs from the Depths of Hell image2Songs from the Depths of Hell image3
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Songs from the Depths of Hell

FW37700
1979
Ronald Clyne
Gertrude Degenhardt
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Kolysanka Dla Synka W Krematorium (Lullaby for My Little Son in the Crematorium) — Aleksander Tytus Kulisiewicz

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The stark, nightmarish figure of the dead child held by the leaning, robed figure in Gertrude Degenhardt's drawing conveys the hopelessness and depth of human misery in the concentration camps. Degenhardt's emotive and highly expressive style takes its impetus from earlier German Expressionist art.