skip navigation  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
AFC Logo
The American Folklife Center
Connect with us:   Blog Blog  |  Facebook Facebook  |  Podcasts Podcasts   RSS RSS  | Video Webcasts
A - Z Index
 home >> about the center >> what is folklife

What is Folklife?

The everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation:

The traditional songs we sing, listen and dance to

Fairy tales, stories, ghost tales and personal histories

Riddles, proverbs, figures of speech, jokes and special ways of speaking

Our childhood games and rhymes


Image of the youngest great-grandmother
The youngest great-grandmother.
Todd and Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection.
Image of Paiute Indians in a serving line
Paiute Indians move though serving line. Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada Collection.
Image of grave head stone
Asbury cemetery on Montcoal Mountain.
Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia Collection.
Image of Bible Class
Bible Class at
Protestant Church.
Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada Collection.
Image of Worker with Pies
Worker holds tray with 20 cooked pies.
Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting.

The way we celebrate life
    – from birthing our babies to honoring our dead

The entire range of our personal and collective beliefs
    – religious, medical, magical, and social

Our handed-down recipes and everyday mealtime traditions

The way we decorate our world
    - from patchwork patterns on our quilts to plastic flamingoes in our yards, to tattoos on our bodies

Image of women at their weekly quilting bee
The weekly quilting bee in Brown's Hollow.
Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia Collection
.
Image of quilt
1994 Arizona State winning quilt: Tumbling Blocks. Quilts and Quiltmaking in America: 1978-1996 Collection.
Image of plant manager
Plant manager examines fabric sample.
Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting.
Image of Hethu'shka Dancer at Library of Congress Neptune Plaza Concert.
Hethu'shka Dancer at Library of Congress Neptune Plaza Concert. Omaha Indian Music Collection.
Image of graffiti
Details of various
graffiti murals.
Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting.

The crafts we create by hand
    – crocheted afghans, wooden spoons, cane bottoms on chairs

Patterns and traditions of work
    – from factory to office cubicle

The many creative ways we express ourselves as members of our family, our community, our geographical region, our ethnic group, our religious congregation, or our occupational group

Folklife is part of everyone's life. It is as constant as a ballad, as changeable as fashion trends. It is as intimate as a lullaby, and as public as a parade.

In the end ... we are all folk.

 

  Back to Top

 

 home >> about the center >> what is folklife

A - Z Index
  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
   April 4, 2014
Legal | External Link Disclaimer

Contact Us:
Ask a Librarian