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Treasures of the AFC Archive Banner #5

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John Cohen talks about his collection in front of AFC's banner exhibit at Brooklyn College. Photo by  Ray Allen.
John Cohen talks about his collection in front of AFC’s banner exhibit at Brooklyn College. Photo by Ray Allen.

This is the fifth in a series of six posts presenting AFC’s new traveling exhibit Treasures of the American Folklife Center Archive.

Exhibit banner titled "American Folklife Center: The World's Largest Ethnographic ArchiveThe exhibit takes the form of lightweight, colorful vinyl banners containing information about AFC, the Library of Congress, and (as the title suggests) some of the treasures found in our archive. Originally conceived of as part of our celebration of the Alan Lomax centennial, the banners were edited by Nancy Groce and me and designed by Stanley Bandong in the Library’s graphics unit. The fabrication was coordinated by Theadocia Austen.

We’re happy to say that these banners have toured with John Cohen and the Down Hill Strugglers to some wonderful venues, including the Newport Folk Festival and Brooklyn College. It’s another great way we can get the message out about the archival treasures here at the Library of Congress.

We’ll be putting the banners online, both so our blog readers can see them, and to go on the record with full credit for all the images, which didn’t fit in the banner format. Here, we’re pleased to present the fifth of the original six banners. To see what the banner itself looks like, see the picture to the right; just click to enlarge.

As before, we’re also providing the banner’s content, in a format that’s easier to see, below. The main text of the blog post is the text on the banner. The photo captions are additional information just for this blog.

American Folklife Center:
The World’s Largest Ethnographic Archive

The American Folklife Center (AFC) contains more than 3,000 collections consisting of more than 3,000,000 items. Approximately 150,000 of these are sound recordings, dating from 1890 to the present. Some collections are well known. Others contain yet-to-be discovered treasures! AFC is adding exciting new collections all the time.

Only a fraction of AFC’s vast holdings are available online. The staff is working to increase this amount, but privacy and copyright concerns mean that some material will never be available online. You can always contact AFC staff for information or visit us in Washington, D.C.

The AFC archive continues to document contemporary cultural traditions. The Occupational Folklife Project collects oral histories of workers in previously under-documented trades and occupations. AFC’s first “born digital” field project, it accepts submissions via an innovative online cataloging and digital file transfer system.

Judith Gray, AFC’s Native American specialist, rehouses fragile wax cylinders from the Frances Densmore Collection:

Judith Gray boxing wax cylinders.
Photo by Stephen Winick for AFC


AFC Archive head Nicole Saylor does research in the stacks:

Nicole Saylor with manuscript and other collection boxes.
Photo by Stephen Winick for AFC.


Recent Occupational Folklife Projects have documented “Iron Workers in the Upper Midwest”…

Workers atop a city skyscraper.
(Building the Chicago skyline. From the collection of ironworker Henry “Bud” Martens, interviewed by Buckie Halker as part of his Archie Green Fellowship documenting “Cultural Traditions of Ironworkers in American’s Upper Midwest.” AFC 2011/062 00252_ph07)

…and “Hairdressers and Beauty Shop Culture in America.”

An African American hairdresser working on a woman's hair.
Philadelphian Folosade Bey Al-Rasul demonstrates traditional African hairstyling during an interview with Archie Green Fellow Candacy Taylor as part of her nation-wide research on “Hairdresser and Beauty Shop Culture in America.” Photo Candacy Taylor. AFC 2012/035 00406_ph04


Henrietta Yurchenco Collection

Yurchenco (1916-2007) was an American ethnomusicologist, folklorist, college professor, radio producer, and media host, and an indefatigable collector. She documented traditional music in Mexico, Ireland, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and the Georgia Sea Islands, creating a large and varied collection of ?eld recordings, papers, and photographs. A New Yorker, she was also a central figure in the Greenwich Village folk music revival.

Yurchenco in Mexico, 1942:

Henrietta Yurchenco, profile portrait.
Photo by Basil Yurchenco.

Yurchenco conducting fieldwork in Puerto Rico, 1969:

An African American women and two children sitting on a porch with Henrietta Yurchenco, seated, with a tape recorder. 1969.
This exhibit was made possible by donations to the American Folklife Center Fund.

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