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Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: Pacific Region States

Photo of a coastline and the sea.

Landscape along the Pacific Ocean, south of Port Orford, Oregon. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2018. Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Staff at the American Folklife Center continue to use new digital tools to support remote discovery and access for our resources by users of all kinds. Whether you are a community scholar, a teacher, an academic researcher, a creative artist, or a curious consumer of local culture we hope that our geographically-oriented research guides offer an entry point into the rich collections and resources maintained at the Center! Find the full menu  of  Library of  Congress Research Guides at this link.

In this post, we focus on the guides for the Pacific Region. According to the Pacific Region volume of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures—a reference work found in the Folklife Reading Room—this region comprises the states of Alaska, California, Hawai’i, Oregon, and Washington. The introduction notes that just as rivers are the cultural and economic focus of many cities, the Pacific Ocean is a common cultural and economic focus of these states. But because of the vast geographic region they encompass, these states also vary widely from each other culturally.

Our research guides for each state and territory provide information about collections related to that state or territory—including links to those materials available online—as well as tips for searching the Library’s online catalog. In addition, we’ve gathered other American Folklife Center resources related to a given state or territory, such as blog posts, podcast episodes, online finding aids, and webcasts of public programs. Here are some of the items you’ll find in the Pacific Region guides:

Library Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Alaaska. Screenshot of the introduction shows a photograph of a quilt.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Alaska.

The guide American Folklife Center Collections: Alaska presents an overview of collections that include Gold Rush era songs and lore; Russian songs; and Native Alaskan music, songs, and traditions. A recording of a Yup’ik song that was part of a public performance as well as a photo of a quilt by an Alaskan artist are featured.

Library Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: California. Screenshot of the introduction shows a photograph of musicians.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: California.

American Folklife Center Collections: California features the online collection California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties with examples of many ethnic groups recorded in the state by ethnomusicologist Sidney Robertson Cowell, as well as a video of a performance of Mexican music by Artemio Posadas and his band.

Library Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Hawai'i. Screenshot of the introduction shows a image of a video of dancers inserted into the guide.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Hawai’i.

American Folklife Center Collections: Hawai’i presents examples of music, song, and dance found in public event videos, such as Unukupukupu Halau Hula, blogs and a podcast on Hawaiian culture; as well as links to important collections that may be accessed in the reading room.

Library Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Oregon. Screenshot of the introduction shows a video of a man and a woman talking.inserted in the guide.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Oregon.

American Folklife Center Collections: Oregon introduces an example of a recent ethnographic project done in Oregon: Taking care–documenting the occupational culture of home care workers : Archie Green Fellows Project, 2014-2015, that is available online.  A video of a performance of east Indian music and song by vina musician Sreevidhya Chandramouli helps to present the variety of the music of Oregon.

Library Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Washington. Screenshot of the introduction shows a video of a man talking inserted in the guide.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Washington.

American Folklife Center Collections: Washington introduces folklore of the state with videos of a lecture by folklorist Jens Lund, “I Done What I Could: Occupational Folk Poetry in the Pacific Northwest” and of Croatian music and song performed by  Ruže Dalmatinke. Links to the Italian Americans in the West Project collection and to catalog records of American Indian recordings provide an introduction to the rich collections available from Washington.

As this brief introduction to these guides shows, there is a lot to learn from these guides whether you plan to browse the collection materials online or are planning a trip into the reading room.  We hope that researcher, students, and folks who, perhaps just want to experience some folklore or folk music from a particular state will find these new guides a good place to start.

Be sure to visit the Library of Congress Research Guides pages in order to discover the full spread of resources on offer! And, also know that American Folklife Center staff have generated (and continue to produce) guides focused on a wide range of topics. You can find the growing body of these rich and dynamic resources from the American Folklife Center here.

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