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Archive: 2020 (119 Posts)

Jeff Hafler sits in a chair in a hair salon.

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

Posted by: Stephen Winick

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” …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

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

Posted by: Stephen Winick

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, …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Yuba Dam Once More!

Posted by: Stephen Winick

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 …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Yuba Dam, 2020!

Posted by: Stephen Winick

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.”

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Symbolism in the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

From the very beginnings of the Women’s suffrage movement, the organizers realized that they needed to use symbolism to help get their message across and make it memorable. This month we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote, as it was ratified on August 18, …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Chicago Blues and Jazz: A New Story Map on the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection

Posted by: Michelle Stefano

In May, I wrote about a project that was keeping me busy, and providing a nice escape from the mental confines of my well-worn, Baltimore couch. While I cannot believe it is already August, I am happy to announce that the project is all set and ready to share! Chicago Blues and Jazz: Selections from …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Who Were Those Gals? “Buffalo Gals” Revisited

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

Back in 2014 I wrote a blog about one of my favorite dance songs, “Buffalo Gals.”  I have thought a lot about it since and explored more of the history of similar and related songs. More is available online today as well, so that more examples can be readily presented here. “Buffalo Gals” from its …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

“A Bad Penny Always Returns”

Posted by: Kerry Ward

This is the sixth blog post in a series marking the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II, and will feature an “Aviator Flight Log Book,” which will be available during the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover in September 2020. While I enjoy working remotely, I miss having the opportunity to interact with those visiting the Veterans History Project’s …