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Homegrown Foodways in West Virginia Film Series: “Korean Heritage and Kimchi” Premieres September 1

The following is a guest post by West Virginia State Folklorist Emily Hilliard, who directs the West Virginia Folklife Program, based at the West Virginia Humanities Council. AFC staff have been working with Emily, as well as filmmakers Mike Costello and Amy Dawson of Lost Creek Farm, to co-produce the AFC’s Homegrown Foodways in West Virginia program, a series of four films that explore a range of food traditions in the state, premiering on the AFC’s Facebook page on: Wednesday, August 18th; Wednesday, September 1st (noon EST) and Wednesday, September 15th (double feature @ noon EST), with a culminating discussion panel on Thursday, September 30th @ 1pm EST.  

Marlyn McClendon making kimchi

Marlyn McClendon of Lobelia, West Virginia in the film, Korean Heritage and Kimchi, by Mike Costello and Amy Dawson of Lost Creek Farm.

This Wednesday, September 1 at noon EST on the AFC’s Facebook page, we will premiere the second film in the Homegrown Foodways in West Virginia series, featuring Marlyn McClendon on Korean heritage and kimchi.

In Korean Heritage and Kimchi, West Virginia filmmakers, farmers, and chefs Mike Costello and Amy Dawson will be joined by fellow farmer, forager, and cook Marlyn McClendon, as she explores both her Korean and Appalachian heritage through food. Though she now makes kimchi and other Korean foods often, sharing them with her rural West Virginia community, this wasn’t always the case. Growing up in Huntington, West Virginia, McClendon recalls the sneers and snickers from her mostly white middle school classmates when she brought pungent, homemade kimchi to school in her lunchbox. In school, she was often teased over her Korean-American identity. “It made me want to be white, so I ran away from it,” she says. “It was really kind of embarrassing in a lot of ways.” Over the years she developed a deeper appreciation for her Korean heritage––as well as a closer relationship with her Korean-born mother––largely through food. 

Marlyn McClendon preparing kimchi in her home

Marlyn McClendon salting cabbage for traditional kimchi. Photo by Mike Costello, 2021.

Now living in the remote community of Lobelia, in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, Marlyn celebrates her Korean and Appalachian identity at the dinner table, often preparing traditional Korean foods with locally cultivated or foraged ingredients, like ramps and nettles. In the film, Marlyn and her mother, Yong, prepare traditional kimchi and a variety of other Korean dishes for a meal shared with friends and neighbors. The film adds to existing documentation in the AFC archival collections on ramp harvesting, foraging, food preservation, and gardening, in West Virginia, as well as documentation of Korean-American cultural traditions in Chicago and Maryland.

This is the second film in the AFC’s Homegrown Foodways in West Virginia program, a series of four films produced by Mike Costello and Amy Dawson of Lost Creek Farm, with support from the West Virginia Folklife Program at the West Virginia Humanities Council. The films, which explore a range of food traditions in the state, will premiere on the AFC’s Facebook page on: Wednesday, August 18th; Wednesday, September 1st (@ noon EST) and Wednesday, September 15th (double feature beginning @ noon EST), with a culminating discussion panel with film producers and participants on Thursday September 30th @ 1pm EST, which you can register for here. Learn more about the film series here and we hope you join us!

Watch the first film, Foraging and Relations with Jonathan Hall, here.

Outgoing Archive Director Leaves Big Shoes to Fill

From late December 2012 through early June 2021, Nicole Saylor led a team of archivists, ethnomusicologists and folklorists that curates the nation’s largest ethnographic archives. She worked to preserve the American Folklife Center’s collecting legacy while accelerating the transformation of an already well-established archives for the digital age. She recently took a position at the Library as the Chief of the Digital Innovation Lab, a position established to lead the Library’s innovation with digital collections and to support its digital transformation. As she began her new position, we interviewed her about her time at AFC.

Let Us Strive

This guest post comes to us from Veterans History Project staff member, Rachel Mears (Head, Collections Preservation, Access, and Analysis). With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up […]

Summer Festivals and Celebrations

Summer solstice was traditionally a time of revelry as the end of planting and the beginning of summer were celebrated. As the summer crops ripen, the fruit of the labor of planting is celebrated in various ways, especially the harvest of staple crops. The grain and hay harvests in late July and early August is […]

Homegrown Foodways in West Virginia Film Series: “Foraging and Relations” Premieres August 18

The following is a guest post by West Virginia State Folklorist Emily Hilliard, who directs the West Virginia Folklife Program, based at the West Virginia Humanities Council. AFC staff have been working with Emily, as well as Mike Costello and Amy Dawson of Lost Creek Farm, to co-produce the Homegrown Foodways in West Virginia program, […]

Summer Songs on the Folklife Today Podcast

Season 3, Episode 9 of the Folklife Today Podcast is ready for listening! Find it on the Library’s website, or on Stitcher, iTunes, or your usual podcatcher. In this episode John Fenn and I, along with guests Nicole Saylor and Jennifer Cutting, look at songs on summer themes. The podcast includes Appalachian, African American, French Canadian, Finnish, Tuvan, and Irish songs. As usual, I present links to relevant blog posts, videos, and audio selections in this post.

AFC’s New Story Map and Research Guide for Higher Education

The American Folklife Center is happy to present our newest research guide, American Folklife Center’s Higher Education Resources, and story map, The American Folklife Center Online, which are both dedicated to assisting instructors in higher education in exploring our collections and related materials, inspiring ways in which they can be integrated into teaching. Last fall, we announced plans for bolstering the AFC’s outreach to higher education, making our resources more accessible to the college and university community. We administered a survey, whose results revealed what our friends in higher education felt they needed from us. In hopes to answer those needs, we present this research guide and Story Map…we hope you enjoy these new AFC resources!

Collection Connections: Hubby Jenkins Homegrown Concert, August 11

We’re excited for this week’s Homegrown concert from Hubby Jenkins, who will be playing old-time songs and spirituals that are the root of American folk, country, blues, and gospel. The concert premieres at noon on August 11 on our Facebook page. After that, the concert will be available permanently at his concert page, where you can also read more about Hubby. For now, I’ll just say that he’s an old-time and blues musician living in New York. He’s a singer and multi-instrumentalist who plays guitars, banjos, mandolins, and bones. He has been a member of the Rhiannon Giddens Band, and before that the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops.  As a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, he played at the Library of Congress back in 2012. In this post, I’ll try to whet your appetites by talking about a few of the songs Hubby plays in the concert, and presenting related field recordings from our collections.