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Hidden Folklorists on the Folklife Today Podcast

Man and woman, seated, in formal 19th century clothes.

Allan Pinkerton and Joan Carfrae Pinkerton. LC Prints and Photographs Division. For complete information, visit the original here. [//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ds.07127]

Episode seven of the Folklife Today Podcast is ready for listening! Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on iTunes, or with your usual podcatcher.

Get your podcast here!

Ralph Ellison, photographed in 1960 by a United States Information Agency staff photographer. NARA reference number 306-PSA-61-8989.

In this fascinating episode (we hope!), John Fenn and I, along with Library of Congress staff members Stephanie Hall, Michelle Stefano, and Muhannad Salhi, explore the work of “hidden folklorists,” that is, people whose folklore work is sometimes overlooked because they came from marginalized communities, or were more famous for other activities.

We drew on a lot of previous blog posts to write this episode, which looks at four folklorists or folklore families:

We used a lot of fun and interesting audio in this blog, including incidental music. The full audio for almost all the music and audio examples is available on the Library’s website in the following locations.

First, the audio examples that we mention along the way:

Ledward Kaapana plays guitar in the Coolidge Auditorium. Photo by Stephen Winick

One note: because Ralph Ellison collected the story “Sweet the Monkey” from Leo Gurley in writing and not on an audio recorder, no audio exists for this story.  Because of this, we asked our good friend Solomon HaileSelassie to perform a dramatic reading. As we say in the podcast, the language he used, including mild racial slurs for white people, was the language written down by Ellison, and reflects informal communication between African Americans at the time. We don’t think it’s offensive, but we apologize if anyone does. The podcast includes the entire reading, so there’s no additional audio to serve you here!

Now, on to the incidental music.  We decided to add this to the episode after we recorded our own voices, so we didn’t thank the artists aloud in the episode itself. All the more reason to list them here and point you to their great performances. Many thanks to them for allowing us to record their wonderful music!

Finally, here’s a correction to the podcast: in the episode, I say the Jeannie Robertson recording is from 1953. Although Lomax did record Robertson singing “Jimmie Raeburn” in 1953 as well as in 1958, we actually used the later 1958 recording, so 1958 is the correct date. I apologize for my error!

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