On This Day: May 26 | Los Angeles Public Library

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On This Day: May 26

Keith Chaffee, Librarian, Collection Development,
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In the mood for a good movie? Some toe-tapping music? A thrilling book? ON THIS DAY will lead you to new possibilities every day, tied to interesting moments from history and popular culture. Whether it’s streamable and downloadable music and film, e-books and e-audio, or physical books and DVDs, we hope you’ll find something to enjoy as you pick up a few bits of history each day.

Mamie Smith: Crazy Blues On this day in 1883, Mamie Smith was born. In 1920, Smith became the first African-American blues singer to make a record. Okeh Records had been threatened with a boycott if they released the record, but it was a commercial success, and led to more recordings by black blues artists. Smith's "Crazy Blues," recorded later in 1920, would be one of the country's first million-selling records. Smith continued to record, and appeared in a few movies, through the early 1940s. Crazy Blues: The Best of Mamie Smith is available for streaming or download at Freegal.
Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning On this day in 1895, Dorothea Lange was born. Lange was a photographer, best known for the Depression-era images of rural photography that she made for the federal Farm Security Administration. In the early 1940s, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, she documented the forced resettlement of Japanese Americans in internment camps. Her photographs of the camps and of the resettlement process were such a sharp indictment that most of them were impounded by the Army, and they were not publicly seen for more than 50 years. The American Masters documentary Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning is available for streaming at Hoopla.
Ain't In It for My Health And on this day in 1940, Levon Helm was born. Helm was one of the singers, and the drummer, for The Band; he's the lead singer on some of their best known songs, including "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Beginning in the late 1970s, Helm also recorded as a solo artist, and played small roles in several films (Coal Miner's Daughter and The Right Stuff among them). Helm lost his voice for several years during a struggle with throat cancer, but recovered it sufficiently to record two final albums in the last few years of his life. Helm is the subject of the documentary Ain't In It for My Health, available for streaming at Hoopla.