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Online Collections and Presentations

The American Folklife Center provides online access to selected portions of our collections. We create our own online presentations on various topics and the American Memory project provides additional online access to selected collections. Online content may include audio samples of music and stories, digital images of rare letters and photographs, and video clips. To use the featured collections in their entirety, please visit our Collections & Research Services page for information about doing research in our Reading Room.

American Folklife Center Online Presentations

image of Lao dancerAFC Concerts, Lectures, and Symposia with Webcasts, Photographs, and Essays
American Folklife Center online archive of websites and materials from past events.
Select this link to browse a list of folklife webcasts
Select this link to browse a list of Veterans History Project event webcasts

Image of Alan LomaxLomax Family Collections
In March 2004, the American Folklife Center acquired the Alan Lomax Collection, which comprises the unparalleled ethnographic documentation collected by the legendary folklorist over a period of sixty years.
AFC Illustrated GuideAmerican Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide
Guide to the history and scope of the collections with images and audio recordings selected from the archive by the staff of the Folklife Center. Available online and in print with an accompanying cd. Edited by James Hardin with a forward by Dr. Peggy Bulger and a CD produced by Jennifer Cutting. Published by the Library of Congress, 2004. Select here to purchase the printed version of the Guide from the Library's Online Sales Shop.

Blue Ridge Harvest Blue Ridge Harvest: A Region's Folklife in Photographs [PDF, 123 pp., 44.38 MB. Requires free Adobe Reader software.]
This often-requested 1981 book published black and white photographs from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project conducted by The American folklife Center in cooperation with the National Park Service in August and September 1978.
Egg Art bookletEgg Art [PDF, 15 pages, 2480kb. Requires free Adobe Reader software.]
This little booklet produced by the American Folklife Center in 1982 is long out of print, yet still very much in demand. It gives a brief description of European egg decorating traditions and explains the techniques for producing elaborate designs. Color cover photo with black and white photos inside. Orignal size: 4 1/2 x 4 1/2".

Veterans History ProjectExperiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Told through oral history interviews, memoirs, diaries, and correspondence, these heartfelt accounts make us laugh, cry and remember. These stories are not a formal history of war, but a treasure trove of individual feelings and personal recollections.
Image for Folk Songs of AmericaFolk-Songs of America: The Robert Winslow Gordon Collection, 1922-1932
Samples of wax cylinder recordings of folksongs collected by the first head of the Archive of Folk Culture, Robert Winslow Gordon. This presentation of recordings, photographs, and notes from the 1978 LP was made in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Archive of Folk Culture.
Image of Halloween skull and bones costume Halloween: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows
The origins and traditions of Halloween are explored in an article by folklorist Jack Santino. A selected bibliography on Halloween and related topics compiled by American Folklife Center staff is also included.
Liner Notes OnlineHistoric AFC LP Liner Note Booklets
Booklets from publications of long playing records produced from the 1950s to the 1980s containing liner notes and scholarly essays about the music. Some of these were previously issued on 78 rpm records in the 1940s, and some were re-issued as cassettes by the Library and as CDs by Rounder Records (currently out of print).

Image for Songs of AmericaThe Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America
The Songs of America presentation allows you to explore American history as documented in the work of some of our country's greatest composers, poets, scholars, and performers. A cooperative project of the Music Division; the Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division; and the American Folklife Center.
Image for Local LegaciesLocal Legacies: Celebrating Community Roots
A snapshot of America's diverse culture, the Local Legacies Project Collection includes photographs, sound recordings, videos, newspaper clippings, and more from communities in all 50 states, the trusts, territories, and the District of Columbia. This presentation provides descriptions of the projects accompanied by photographs. The project was initiated by members of Congress commemorating the Library's Bicentennial.
Veterans History ProjectMary Sheppard Burton Collection
A set of twelve beautiful hooked rugs made by Maryland artist Mary Sheppard Burton from the Tell Me ’Bout series—each relating a personal narrative about the Burton family. The carpets, which are as large as 45" by 69", may be viewed as complete images (in three sizes) or interactively using the "zoom" view.
National Sampler ProjectNational Sampler Project
The National Sampler Project, in progress, is an effort to present a selection of United States audio recordings, webcasts, and images from the American Folklife Center's Archive, representing each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. Select the link to find the samplers currently available.
Image of Yellow RibbonThe New Yellow Ribbon Tradition
Wearing and otherwise displaying ribbons of various colors to remember loved ones or to identify a particular cause is a contemporary custom with roots in both popular culture and folk tradition. These origins are explored in two articles by the late Gerald E. Parsons Jr., folklorist and reference librarian at the American Folklife Center.
card catalog iconTraditional Music and Spoken Word Card Catalog
This searchable database provides bibliographic information and images of original catalog cards for approximately 34,000 ethnographic sound recordings. Most were recorded between 1933 and 1950. The catalog has been digitized in order to provide wider access to this historic research tool for early AFC collections.

American Memory Online Collections

Image from After the Day of InfamyAfter the Day of Infamy: "Man on the Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
A presentation of approximately twelve hours of opinions recorded the days and months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor from over two hundred individuals in cities and towns across the United States.
Image of Buckaroos in ParadiseBuckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-82
Documentation of a Nevada cattle-ranching community with a focus on the family-run Ninety-Six Ranch. The material was collected as part of the Paradise Valley Folklife Project conducted by American Folklife Center from 1978-1982.
Image from California GoldCalifornia Gold: Northern California Folk Music From the Thirties
Thirty-five hours of sound recordings, photographs, and drawings collected during a New Deal project aimed at documenting the European, Slavic, Middle Eastern, and Spanish-language folk music of Northern California in the 1930's.
Image from Life on the Ohio and Erie CanalCaptain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal
This collection captures the culture and music of the men, women, and children who worked and lived along the Ohio and Erie Canal. Included are 75 songs, sung by Nye, along with transcribed lyrics, photographs, and personal letters Nye sent to the Library from 1937 to 1944.
Center For Applied Linguistics CollectionThe Center for Applied Linguistics Collection
This collection comprises fifty-nine audio recordings documenting North American English dialects. The recordings include speech samples, linguistic interviews, oral histories, conversations, and excerpts from public speeches. They were drawn from various archives, and from the private collections of fifty collectors, including linguists, dialectologists, and folklorists.

Image of Henry Reed FiddlingFiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection
184 Traditional fiddle tunes performed by Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia that evoke the history and spirit of Virginia's Appalachian frontier. Recorded from 1966-1967, when Reed was over eighty years old, many of the tunes passed back into circulation during the fiddling revival of the later twentieth century.
Image for Florida FolklifeFlorida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942
376 sound recordings that document African-American, Arabic, Bahamian, British-American, Cuban, Greek, Italian, Minorcan, Seminole, and Slavic cultures in Florida. Recorded by Robert Cook, Herbert Halpert, Zora Neale Hurston, and others in conjunction with the Florida Federal Writers' Project, the Florida Music Project, and the Joint Committee on Folk Arts of the Work Projects Administration
Image of Hispano Music and CultureHispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection
Selections of sound recordings and manuscript material collected by Juan Bautista Rael, a pioneer Hispano folklorist. The material he collected documents the religious and secular music of Spanish-speaking residents of rural Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado including alabados (hymns), folk drama, wedding songs, and dance tunes.
Image from Now What a Time"Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943
Approximately one hundred sound recordings and related written documents collected by John Wesley Work III, Willis Laurence James, and Lewis Jones during trips to Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. The recordings include selections from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia.
Image from Omaha Indian MusicOmaha Indian Music
Photographs and sound recordings featuring the traditional Omaha music from the 1983 Omaha harvest celebration pow-wow, the 1985 Hethu'shka Society concert at the Library of Congress, and the wax cylinder recordings of Francis La Flesche and Alice Cunningham Fletcher made 1895-1897.
Image from Quilts and QuiltmakingQuilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978-1996
410 photographs and 181 sound recordings provide a glimpse into America's diverse quilting traditions. Selected from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project and the "All American Quilt Contest" sponsored by Lands' End and Good Housekeeping.
Image from September 11, 2001 Documentary ProjectSeptember 11, 2001 Documentary Project
Almost 200 audio and video interviews, drawings, photographs, and narratives that capture the heartfelt reactions, eyewitness accounts, and diverse opinions of Americans and others in the months that followed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. Patriotism, sadness, anger, and insecurity are common themes expressed through the material.
Image from Southern MosaicSouthern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip
Nearly 700 sound recordings, as well as fieldnotes, dust jackets, and other material that documents a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States. John and Ruby Lomax traveled from Port Aransas, Texas to Washington, DC documenting folk singers and folksongs across a broad spectrum of traditional musical styles.
Image from Tending the CommonsTending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia
The American Folklife Center's Coal River Folklife Project (1992-99) documents the traditional uses of the mountains in Southern West Virginia's Big Coal River Valley. Functioning as a de facto commons, the mountains have supported a way of life that for many generations has entailed hunting, gathering, and subsistence gardening, as well as coal mining and timbering.
Image from Voices from Days of SlaveryVoices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories
Almost seven hours of recorded interviews that took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. A podcast series from this collection is also available.
Image from Voices from the Dust BowlVoices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd & Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection
363 sound recordings and accompanying photographs document the life, work, music, and cultural traditions of residents in the Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California from 1940 to 1941.
Image of Woody GuthrieWoody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song, Correspondence 1940-1950
A collection of letters that highlights the correspondence between Woody Guthrie and staff of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center). The material provides a unique perspective on Woody Guthrie's past, his art, his life in New York City, and his feelings about WWII.
Image of Paterson, New JerseyWorking in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting
470 excerpts from original sound recordings and 3,882 photographs that document the occupational culture of Paterson, New Jersey in 1994. Selected from the Working in Paterson Folklife Project conducted by the American Folklife Center, the collection explores how the industrial heritage of the city expresses itself in its work sites, work processes, and memories of workers.

 

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