Corliss Lamont Sings

January 7, 2014

While going through some of our audio/visual holdings, I discovered this piece of history that is held in only a few places: a vinyl LP titled Corliss Lamont Sings for His Family and Friends.

Corliss Lamont (1902-1995) was a philosopher, a professor, and an author most associated with causes such as humanism and civil liberties. He taught at Columbia, Harvard, and Cornell; he was a director for the American Civil Liberties Union and president of the American Humanist Association. He wrote many books. The Philosophy of Humanism is probably his best-known work.

One little-known aspect of Lamont’s life is that he loved to sing. In the liner notes of a later edition of this LP, Lamont points out that singing with and for his family was a big part of his life. He decided to record a few of those songs, and he put together this album.

The response to the album from his family was so enthusiastic that he decided to release it to the public. Smithsonian’s Folkways Records repackaged the album, created the liner notes, and released their version in 1977. The record was called Author Corliss Lamont Sings for His Family and Friends a Medley of Favorite Hit Songs from American Musicals. This version is available on cassette, on CD, and digitally at

The LP in the Center for Inquiry Libraries is the precursor to the Smithsonian version. The Libraries also have the cassette from of the Smithsonian album as part of the collection.