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Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: Rocky Mountain Region

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Photo of mountain range with low brush in foreground
Carbon County, Wyoming, landscape. Photo by Carol Highsmith, 2016. 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 Rocky Mountain 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 Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. 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:

Screenshot of the introduction to the research guide to American Folklife Center Collections: Colorado.

The guide American Folklife Center Collections: Colorado presents an overview of collections that include the 1980 Colorado Folklife project, recordings of Hispano musical traditions in the Norther Rio Grande region by Juan B. Rael, and documentation of Italian American communities near the town of Pueblo, CO.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Idaho

American Folklife Center Collections: Idaho points users toward materials from the state found in two online collections: the American English Dialect Recordings: The Center for Applied Linguistics Collection, and Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978 to 1996. The guide also features links to catalog records for collections of historical recordings from the Nez Perce, as well as a video of traditional Basque music featured in the Center’s Homegrown concert series.

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

American Folklife Center Collections: Montana presents examples of the diverse traditional culture found in the state during the Montana Folklife Survey project in 1979. The guide also contains links to catalog records for archival collections of songs and spoken word from the Blackfeet nation, as well as songs from silver miners recorded by folklorist Wayland Hand in 1948.

Screenshot of the introduction for American Folklife Center Collections: Utah.

American Folklife Center Collections: Utah introduces materials gathered by Utah State University students about the events of September 11, 2001 that are part of an online collection, as well as Utah-based materials from the Italian Americans in the West digital collection. Additionally, the guide points users toward a 2008 public program held at the Library featuring hymns, songs, and fiddle tunes from the state.

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

American Folklife Center Collections: Wyoming introduces folklore of the state through links to public programs held at the Library spanning a performance of cowboy music in 2008, and a discussion of traditional artistic expression associated with hunting and other outdoor activities from 2018.

As this brief introduction 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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