Lead Belly: “The Hindenburg Disaster”

On May 6, 1937, the German passenger airship Hindenburg caught fire while it attempted to dock at a naval station in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Thirty-five of the 97 people on board the ship died, along with one worker on the ground.

Herbert Morrison’s Report

Many people would listen to Herbert Morrison‘s recorded reports on the radio.  The horrible crash — along with Morrison’s cry of “Oh, the humanity!” — helped end public confidence in the use of airships as a means of travel.

This video puts together Morrson’s reporting with some separate color footage from the scene.

Lead Belly’s “The Hindenburg Disaster”

In the years before television, songwriter often responded quickly to write songs about a major disaster.  And Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, used his songwriting skills to tell the story of the Hindenburg in “The Hindenburg Disaster.”

Lead Belly recorded his song for the Library of Congress on June 22, 1937.  Check out his version of the story in “The Hindenburg Disaster.”

“The Hindenburg Disaster” appears on Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection.

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