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“I Didn’t Done the Crime”: Stavin’ Chain’s “Batson” and the Batson Case

Note: This is the third in a series of posts about the murder ballad “Batson.” This one discusses the version of the ballad performed by Wilson Jones, aka “Stavin’ Chain,” in light of the real-life Batson case. In previous blog posts about the murder ballad “Batson,” I looked at early versions collected by Robert Winslow […]

Folklife at the International Level: Traditional Cultural Expressions as Intellectual Property

In the first of the “Folklife at the International Level” series, I ended with a glimpse into the complex issues that arise when intellectual property (IP) protection is sought for “traditional cultural expressions,” or “TCEs,” the terminology used by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). On its website, WIPO describes such expressions as including “music, […]

AFC’s Occupational Folklife Project Goes Online with “Working the Port of Houston” Collection

The following is a guest post by Nancy Groce, Senior Folklife Specialist and Director of the Occupational Folklife Project. After seven years of planning, research, fieldwork, and archiving, the American Folklife Center is delighted to announce that the first installment of its Occupational Folklife Project (OFP) launches today on the Library of Congress’s website with […]

Over There

The following is a guest post by Rachel Telford, archivist for the Veterans History Project. Today, the Veterans History Project launches “Over There,” part two of our companion site to the Library of Congress exhibit, “Echoes of the Great War.” While part one explores the United States’ entry into World War I, part two delves […]

“No One Can Ever Forget It”: Stavin’ Chain’s Performance of “Batson”

Note: This is the second in a series of posts about the murder ballad “Batson.” This one discusses the performance recorded by John A. and Alan Lomax from a trio of musicians including Wilson Jones, a.k.a. Stavin’ Chain, in 1934. A little while back, I presented for the first time anywhere a version of the […]

Riddles of Life

The following is a guest blog post co-authored by Rachel Nave McCubbin and her sisters, Lynne Cosby and Patience Fort, who recently traveled from Kentucky and Pennsylvania to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) to ceremoniously donate their father’s World War II collection. The veteran’s online record will be made accessible on VHP’s […]

“When I First Got Ready For the War,” a Song of World War I

This is one of two articles, each focusing on one ethnographic recording of an African American song of World War I. To read the article about “Trench Blues” select here. African Americans left to serve in World War I, beginning one hundred years ago in June 1917, landing in France on June 25. They had […]

A Few Examples of Dads’ Traditions

A celebration of fathers and fatherhood took a long time to be established as a nation-wide observance.  Mother’s Day was being locally observed as it was being promoted in the 19th and early 20th century, and became a regular holiday in May in 1914 by presidential proclamation. Father’s Day was locally celebrated around the country […]

“Oh, Mama”: A Mother’s Love and the Murder Ballad “Batson”

Note: This is the first in a series of posts about the murder ballad “Batson.” This one discusses previously unpublished versions of the song from manuscript collections at AFC. Introduction The ballad “Batson,” collected by John and Alan Lomax from Wilson Jones (whose nickname was “Stavin’ Chain”) and two accompanists, has long been a well-known […]