In the 1930s, it was rare for anyone to record non-English songs. Sidney Robertson Cowell set out to collect one of the first modern-day collections of songs from recent immigrants in the US. Catherine Hiebert Kerst, a retired folklife specialist from the American Folklife Center who is writing a book about Cowell, says the ethnomusicologist thought it was important to document immigrant music and songs: “She did not want this music to be lost.”