On May 23, 2016, Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District took the time to commend the American Folklife Center for 40 years of service to the nation on the floor of the House of Representatives. His statement appeared in the Congressional Record. AFC is grateful to the Congressman for his work with us in the past, and for his considerate acknowledgement of our anniversary. Below we provide the full text of Rep. Blumenauer’s statement. You can see the original text here, and download a pdf file of the relevant pages here.
This is part of a series of blog posts about the 40th Anniversary of the American Folklife Center. Visit this link to see them all!
40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICAN FOLKLIFE CENTER AT THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
HON. EARL BLUMENAUER
in the House of Representatives
Monday, May 23, 2016
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, today I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing the important work of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in its 40th anniversary year. The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 to “preserve and present American folklife” through research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibitions, publications, and training. The Center collects and preserves living traditional culture and makes its valuable resources available to researchers and the general public in a celebration of American culture.
Many of my colleagues are familiar with the work of the American Folklife Center because of the Veterans History Project, created with unanimous, bipartisan support in 2000. In this model oral history project–now the largest oral history project in America–volunteers across the country are recording interviews and collecting diaries, photographs, letters, and scrapbooks about veterans’ wartime experiences, from WWI to the present day. The growing collection tells the personal stories of more than 100,000 veterans and enables current and future generations of Americans to understand their sacrifices.
A similar Congressional initiative through the American Folklife Center is the Civil Rights History Project, concluding this year. The Folklife Center partnered with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on a project to record the experiences and memories of heroes across the country who participated in the historic struggles to secure freedom, equality and full citizenship for African Americans.
The American Folklife Center’s archive is the largest of its kind in the world, preserving the cultural practices of American families, ethnicities, religions, occupations and other groups and historical material from every state in the union. The collection contains more than 6,000 recordings of American Indian songs, chants, and prayers first recorded on wax cylinders dating as far back as 1890, and uses digital technology to preserve and ensure tribal access to this material.
During its forty-year history, the American Folklife Center has worked closely with state and local folklife programs, local scholars, and cultural institutions, and has engaged the general public to provide expertise on preservation, archiving and public programming, enabling diverse ways to understand our history and cultural heritage.
These projects and collections are just a sampling of the important work done in the Folklife Center by its wonderful staff to preserve and present American folklife and cultural history. I commend the good work of the American Folklife Center, and offer congratulations on forty years of service to this nation.