The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of its three competitive annual fellowships and awards programs: the Archie Green Fellowships, the Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund Award, and Blanton Owen Fund Award. This year, these three awards went to nine projects throughout the United States, whose proposals were reviewed and selected by internal and external panels at the American Folklife Center.
Archie Green Fellowships
The Archie Green Fellowships were established to honor the memory of Archie Green (1917-2009), a pioneering folklorist who championed the establishment of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and who was awarded the Library’s Living Legend Award and honored in the Congressional Record [pdf]. Green documented and analyzed the culture and traditions of American workers and encouraged others to do the same. Archie Green Fellowships are designed to stimulate innovative research projects documenting occupational culture in contemporary America.
This year, Archie Green Fellowships were awarded to six projects in six different states:
The Alaska Marine Conservation Council in Homer, Alaska, received funding for “Beyond the Breakwater: The Oral History of Gulf of Alaska Small-Boat Fishermen.” This project seeks to record in-depth oral history interviews and photographic portraits with 20 small-scale commercial fisherman based in four fishing communities across the Gulf of Alaska (Sitka, Homer, Seldovia, Kodiak). Led by project director Josh Wisniewski, who is both an anthropologist and a fisherman, the project will document occupational histories and knowledge used to harvest different fish species by the small-boat fleet –(gill netting and purse seining, trolling, long lining, and jigging)—related trades, and the changing environmental challenges faced by contemporary Alaskan fisher folk.
Folklorists Aaron Paige and Elinor Levy at Arts Westchester in White Plains, New York, working in collaboration with Sun River Health (SRH), received funding to document “Community Health Workers in Downstate New York.” They will interview 15-20 of the non-profit’s community health workers in rural, urban and suburban locations in the Hudson River Valley, New York City and Long Island. One of the largest Federally Qualified Health Centers in the country with over 40 locations serving more than 245,000 patients, SRH’s community health workers are trained frontline healthcare workers who typically share cultural values, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and life experiences with the communities they serve.
Researcher Carmen Hewitt of Temple Hills, Maryland, was awarded an Archie Green Fellow to document “African American Nurses: The Chi Eta Phi Sorority.” A nurse with more than 30 years’ experience and training in history and oral history, she will conduct in-depth oral history interviews with 15 members of Chi Eta Phi Sorority Incorporated, a historically Black national nursing sorority founded in 1932, in order to document members’ experiences as African American nurses in contemporary America.
West Virginia-based folklorist Emily Hilliard received an Archie Green Fellowship for her project “Rural Free Delivery: Mail Carriers in Central Appalachia.” The project will document the expressive culture and experiences of approximately 25 rural mail carriers and clerks (formerly known as postmasters) in the upper mountain South (VA, WV, KY, OH). It will focus, in particular, on the function they serve as lifelines in their community, as well as how their place of work— rural post offices—are invaluable community hubs in remote rural areas.
Folklorist Jared L. Schmidt of Rockaway Beach, Oregon, received an Archie Green Fellowship for his project “Tillamook: Cheesemakers in Costal Oregon.” Over the course of a century, costal Oregon’s Tillamook Creamery’s cheese has become a nationally prominent brand while maintaining a local farmer-owner co-op model. The result is a sense of cultural heritage and identity rooted in and expressed through dairy. Schmidt will document individuals employed in the wide range of occupations associated with the county’s cheese making process including farmers, truck drivers, factory line workers, food scientists, and marketing specialists.
“Custodians and Janitors in Colorado” will be documented by Cynthia Torres, who worked as a custodian herself for several years before training as a documentarian at the University of Colorado. She will interview workers in this “undervalued and unnoticed” labor force to create an opportunity for custodians and janitors “to tell their stories and their relationship to their work” so that the general public will better appreciate their contributions. Ms. Torres will collaborate with Prof. Jennifer Fluri (UC/Boulder) and the Oral History Program at Boulder Public Library, and work in cooperation of the local SEIU.
Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund Awards
The Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons fund was founded by AFC reference librarian Gerry Parsons (1940-1995) in honor of his parents. It enables individuals to come to the Library of Congress to pursue research at the American Folklife Center and other divisions of the Library of Congress with ethnographic holdings. This year, a Parsons Award goes to Prof. David Font-Navarette of the City University of New York’s Lehman College to conduct archival research pertaining to the American Folklife Center’s Lydia Cabrera-Tarafa Collection of Afro-Cuban Music.
Blanton Owen Fund Awards
The Blanton Owen award was established in 1999 in memory of folklorist Blanton Owen by his family and friends. It is awarded every other year to support ethnographic field research in folk arts and traditional culture. This year, Blanton Owen Fellowships were awarded to ethnomusicologist Panayotis League of Tallahassee, Florida, for fieldwork anchored in community memory and cultural connections to Greek collections held at AFC, as found in the contemporary Greek American population of Tarpon Springs, Florida; and to Emily Bianchi of Indiana University, for fieldwork with the community at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine.
About the Center and the Library
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American Folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the American Folklife Center Archive of folk culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information, visit the AFC homepage at loc.gov/folklife.
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website at loc.gov.website at loc.gov.