Robert Winslow Gordon

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Robert Winslow Gordon
Robert Winslow Gordon with Edison Cylinders
BornSeptember 2, 1888
DiedMarch 26, 1961 (1961-03-27) (aged 72)
Resting placeDarien, Georgia
NationalityUnited States
EducationHarvard University
EmployerUniversity of California at Berkeley, Library of Congress

Robert Winslow Gordon (September 2, 1888 – March 26, 1961) was educated at Harvard. He joined the English faculty at the University of California at Berkeley in 1918. In 1923, he was asked by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman to run the folk music column "Old Songs Men Have Sung" in Hoffman's magazine, Adventure.[1] Gordon accepted and used the Adventure column to collect information on traditional American music from the magazine's readers.[1] He was the founding head of the Archive of American Folk Song (later the Archive of Folk Culture, which became part of the American Folklife Center) at the Library of Congress in 1928. He was a pioneer in using mechanical means to document folk musicians, originally using Edison cylinder recordings.[1] He is known among folk singers as the originator of the infamous Gordon "Inferno" Collection of American songs; he also collected an early version of Kumbaya.[2] From 1943 to 1958, he was a Professor of English at George Washington University. He died March 26, 1961.


  1. ^ a b c Paul J. Stamler, "Robert Winslow Gordon", in Scott B. Spencer (ed.) The ballad collectors of North America : how gathering folksongs transformed academic thought and American identity. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2012. ISBN 0810881551 (pp. 171-190).
  2. ^ Freedman, Samuel G. (19 November 2010). "A Long Road From 'Come by Here' to 'Kumbaya'". New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2010.


Kodish, Debora. Good Friends and Bad Enemies: Robert Winslow Gordon and the Study of American Folksong. ISBN 978-0-252-01251-8.