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Dr. Josh Caffery, who earned a doctoral degree in English at UL Lafayette, has been awarded the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies by the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

He is the first high school teacher and U.S. citizen to receive the Lomax Fellowship, according to information from the Episcopal School of Acadiana, where Caffery teaches and chairs the English Department.

Caffery also holds a fellowship with the Center for Louisiana Studies at UL Lafayette.

The Alan Lomax Fellowship brings scholars from around the world to the Library of Congress to study the massive body of song and images collected by Alan Lomax and his father, John Lomax.

“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,” Caffery said.

The “field collectors” traveled the country to record traditional folk music. During the 1930’s, the pair recorded musicians in southern Louisiana.

“Alan Lomax believed that certain areas of the country had unique cultural resources that should be conserved for future generations,” Caffery said. “I plan to help continue that vision.”

Caffery plans to move his family to the Washington, D.C., area in September to begin his one-year appointment.

A native of Franklin, La., and 1993 graduate of Episcopal School of Acadiana, Caffery returned to ESA in 2010 to teach. A year later, he completed his doctoral degree at UL Lafayette under the direction of folklorist Barry Jean Ancelet.

Caffery’s first book, Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings, will be published by LSU Press in November.

In addition to researching Louisiana song traditions, Caffery hopes to produce an album of spirituals based on the 1934 recordings of two singers from Avery Island.

He also plans to finish a collection of original poetry inspired by Louisiana traditional song and to identify and develop resources within the Archive of American Folksong for possible use in Louisiana schools.

Visit http://www.loc.gov/loc/kluge/fellowships/lomax.html for more information about the Alan Lomax Fellowship.