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Serving the Armed Forces: The USO

The following is a guest post by Rachel Telford, Program Specialist for the Veterans History Project. Founded 73 years ago this month, the United Service Organizations (USO) was created at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide entertainment and recreation to members of the military. Six civilian service organizations – the Salvation Army, […]

John Wesley Work III: Documenting Musical Change

Folklorist John Wesley Work III lived in an extraordinary time in the development of African American music. He was in college as the Harlem Renaissance began. African American composers were developing traditional blues into elite compositions and the piano became an instrument for new styles such as jazz and boogie-woogie. Work, like his brother Julian, […]

Screening and Discussion of “This Ain’t No Mouse Music!”

On Friday, February 21, the American Folklife Center will host a discussion and screening of clips from the upcoming film premiere of “This Ain’t No Mouse Music!”: The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records with the filmmakers Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling. Please join us from 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm in the Whittall […]

Songs of US Presidents

For Presidents’ Day, take a look at the new presentation The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America. [1] This article will provide links giving you a start. George Washington had songs written for him while he was a general.  An example is “General Washington,” which was printed on a single side of a […]

Love Songs at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century

For Valentine’s Day, let’s examine love songs in the light of historical changes of the early twentieth century, through the new presentation The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America. As the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, love underwent many changes: young people wanted relationships without much involvement from parents and elders, […]

Tracing the Long Journey of “We Shall Overcome”

Although folksingers Pete Seeger, Guy Carawan, and Frank Hamilton registered copyright on “We Shall Overcome” in 1960, the song has a long and fascinating history with contributions from many activist-singers. We can trace it back to two separate songs from over a hundred years ago, the lyrics from “I’ll Overcome Some Day” written by the […]

The American Folklife Center Participates in “The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America”

What could the songs sung, composed, and/or danced by Americans from the colonial period to the present teach us about the history of the United States? How could U.S. history help us to better understand American songs? These are questions explored in the new online presentation The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America.  […]

Alan Lomax and the Voyager Golden Records

The following is a guest post from Bertram Lyons, the digital assets manager and a folklife specialist at the American Folklife Center’s archives at the Library of Congress. This post originally appeared on the Association for Cultural Equity site and is reposted with permission. Prior to his arrival at the Library, Lyons was the archivist at the […]