Born a farmer's son in Goodman, MS, in 1867, John Lomax would play a central role in recording, preserving, and promoting American folk songs. Lomax grew up in rural Texas where he developed a love for cowboy songs and made a hobby of transcribing them. When he shared his work with professors at the University of Texas, they discouraged him from pursuing this pastime; he accepted a job at the college and began a career in academia. In 1906, while attending Harvard to obtain an M.A. in literature, he once again ventured to share his transcriptions of folk songs with two professors, Barrett Wendell and George Lyman Kittredge. Both men encouraged Lomax. He continued teaching at University of Texas after leaving Harvard, but also received fellowships for song collecting trips. This led to his first book, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, in 1910, a groundbreaking work that helped establish the validity of the American folk song outside of the British tradition. He also joined with Professor Leonidas Payne in establishing a Texas branch of the American Folklore Society, an organization committed to preserving folklore before it disappeared.