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Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project Now Available

The Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project was conducted in the summer of 1982 by the American Folklife Center to survey selected religious and secular ethnic community-based schools conducted, at least in part, in a language other than English to document the continued ethnolinguistic and cultural diversity of the United States. This collection […]

The Last Sunday in September

The last Sunday in September marks Gold Star Mothers and Family’s day- a day for our nation to show our profound gratitude and respect for the families of our fallen.  Last year, the Library of Congress invited Gold Star families to join us so that we could celebrate the lives, service and love of their […]

AFC Plans to Enhance Resources for Higher Education

  Attention college and university teachers and students! The American Folklife Center is planning to enhance and expand its outreach to higher education, making our resources more accessible than ever before to the college and university community. This is especially important as higher education adapts to increased demand for remote and online teaching brought about by […]

Food for Thought: Veteran Entrepreneurship and Post Traumatic Stress

Veteran-owned businesses are not a new concept.  In fact, 49.7 % of World War II veterans went on to own or operate a business, according to Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Here is another statistic for you to chew on: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ most recent statistics estimate that one in […]

American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress Launches Podcast ‘America Works’

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is delighted to announce a new podcast:  “America Works.” It is based on our Occupational Folklife Project collection, and tells fascinating stories of American workers. You can listen to a trailer for this exciting new series in the player below: Listen and Subscribe to “America Works” […]

Homegrown at Home and Home Archive Challenge on the Folklife Today Podcast

Episode 19 of the Folklife Today Podcast (or Season 2, Episode 7) is ready for listening! Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on Stitcher, iTunes, or your usual podcatcher.  As usual, I’ll use this blog post to direct you to fuller audio and video of the items we mentioned in the podcast, […]

Yuba Dam Once More!

In a previous post, I took a look at the song “Yuba Dam,” in which a man gets in trouble with his wife and the law by answering questions honestly with the words “Yuba Dam,” only to be repeatedly misheard as saying “you be damned.” In this post, I’ll look into the deeper history of […]

Yuba Dam, 2020!

Folklorists Barre Toelken and Gary Ward Stanton recorded the comic song “Yuba Dam” on August 25, 1979, among the songs and reminiscences of Kevin Shannon, a singer and storyteller with a large repertoire of songs and a deep knowledge of the history of the Irish American community in and around Butte, Montana. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Yuba Dam” has a new relevance. It’s a tale of escalating misfortunes which leave the narrator alone, broke, and beaten up. Needless to say, I think we can all relate; it’s been a trying year. In that case, you might ask, why make it worse with a tale of woe? Well, that’s the great thing. Despite the misfortunes heaped on the shoulders of the narrator, “Yuba Dam” is a funny story. In fact, it’s just one variant of a joke that had been told in prose and verse for over 100 years when the song was recorded. In this post, we take a closer look at “Yuba Dam.”