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Comedy and the Corps: The Early Life of Art Buchwald

This is a guest post by Colleen Benoit Kim, Senior Archives Specialist in the Manuscript Division.  Editors note: this post explores one of our LC colleagues’ favorite VHP collections. Watch this space for upcoming blog posts written by AFC and VHP staff about their own favorite VHP collections, part of our newest Experiencing War web […]

Masking and Mumming for the Holidays, Thanksgiving Style!

Happy Thanksgiving! In this post, we’ll take a look at a set of interesting photos from the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division. They depict a custom most people nowadays don’t know much about: Thanksgiving masking. Thanksgiving maskers, like trick-or-treaters on contemporary Halloween, used to go door to door, begging for handouts. They also […]

Songs of the Harvest

Thanksgiving days were declared by United States Presidents at various times in American history, beginning with George Washington making November  26, 1789, a day of thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving was not established as a regular yearly Federal holiday until 1870. So there are not a great many songs specifically for American Thanksgiving, and these were composed […]

Harvey Pratt: Dreaming of a National Native American Veterans Memorial

The following is a guest blog post by liaison specialist Owen Rogers about the November 11, 2020 completion and programing surrounding the National Native American Veterans Memorial.  American Indians and Alaska Natives comprise less than 1% of the United States population. They boast a higher percentage of veterans than any other ethnicity and a tradition of […]

Halloween Songs and Stories on the Folklife Today Podcast AND in No Depression!

Time is getting short before Halloween, so we’re combining two announcements in this one blog post! First of all, as our readers may remember, we’ve been working with No Depression, The Journal of Roots Music, which is published by the nonprofit Freshgrass Foundation. They’re publishing a column called Roots in the Archive, featuring content from the […]

Devil Songs for Halloween

In his book The Folk Songs of North America, in an introduction to one of the American Folklife Center’s finest songs about the Devil, Alan Lomax wrote:

Early America saw the Devil as a real and living personage. Rocks in New England were scarred by his hoofprints, as he carried off maidens, screaming and howling, over the hills, or came after the men who had sold their souls to him in return for money or success. […] A mountain woman tells of the last moments of her mean old husband…’I knowed he war goin’, because all the dogs from fur and nigh come around and howled. Hit wur a dark night. But plain as day, comin’ down yon side the mountain, through the bresh so thickety a butcher knife couldn’t cut hit, I seen the Devil a-comin’. He war ridin’ a coal-black cart, drivin’ a coal-black oxen. The cart come down to the door and stopped. When it come, it come empty. But when it went away, hit had a big black ball in it that war Arzy’s soul. […] Lomax’s passage serves as a fine and atmospheric introduction to our own Halloween exploration of the Devil in folksongs from the American Folklife Center archive!

Veterans History Project Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Conversations and Song

Because their stories are OUR stories ~ November 6 – 14, 2020 Join us in a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress with a series of panel discussions and musical performances. The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible […]