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Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: New England

A lighthouse on a rocky coast.

Portland Head Lighthouse, Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, between 1980 and 2006. 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 New England. According to the New England volume of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures—a reference work found in the Folklife Reading Room—this region comprises the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. As the introductory text explains, “the New England States are home to many proud cultural traditions, including the practices of indigenous Northeast tribes, the legacy of Puritan settlers, the Portuguese coastal communities, Maine’s Acadian population, and many other spheres of influence.”

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 New England guides:

Library of Congress Research guide for American Folklife Center Collections: Connecticut. A photo shows a hairdresser working on a woman's hair.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Connecticut

American Folklife Center Collections: Connecticut (shown at the top of this blog) highlights the Hairdresser and Beauty Shop Culture in America online collection, an occupational study that included hairdressers in Connecticut. It also includes a video of the Peruvian American music and dance group Negrura Peruana.

American Folklife Center Collections: Maine features the Maine Acadian Cultural Survey Collection, an American Folklife Center field project documenting French American culture in the northern part of the state that is available online. It also includes a video of Ancestral Voices Roundtable, a panel discussion presenting a collaborative initiative to digitally restore, provide access to and curate the oldest recordings in the Library of Congress collections, the 1890s wax cylinder recordings of the Passamaquoddy tribal nation of Maine.

American Folklife Center Collections: Massachusetts highlights the Lowell Folklife Project Collection, an American Folklife Center field project documenting many ethnic groups in Lowell Massachusetts, available online. The guide also includes catalog records for and links to the online presentations of Archie Green Fellowship Projects Working the waterfront, New Bedford, Massachusetts and Tobacco workers of the Connecticut River Valley. A video of a concert by Balla Kouyaté, a griot and virtuoso player of the balaphon,  can be viewed in the guide.

Library of Congress Research Guide: American Folklife Center Collections: New Hampshire. The guide features photograph of a quilt.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: New Hampshire.

American Folklife Center Collections: New Hampshire features a prize winning quilt by Janice Miller appliqued with scenes from Jaffery, New Hampshire from the Land’s End All American Quilt Contest collection, which is part of the online presentation, Quilts and Quiltmaking in America. Readers can also enjoy a video of a performance by Les Bon Hommes Du Nord: French-Canadian Fiddle Music & Songs from New Hampshire.

Library of Congress Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Rhode Island. The image in the guide page shows adults and children working on a sand sculpture.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Rhode Island.

American Folklife Center Collections: Rhode Island features the American Folklife Center’s Rhode Island Folklife Project collection, which can be found online. It also includes a video of Rhode Island’s own National Heritage Fellow Kevin Doyle performing Irish step dance.

Library of Congress Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Vermont. On the page is a photograph of a group of five men and a woman.

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

American Folklife Center Collections: Vermont features a photograph of an event at the Library of Congress with folklorist Helen Hartness Flanders presenting three singers from Vermont. A recording of one of the singers was used as an example in the blog “More AFC Recordings on the National Recording Registry,” by Stephen Winick in Folklife Today, and can be heard at the link. The guide includes a catalog record and link for the online collection Trash talk : workers in Vermont’s waste management industry: Archie Green Fellows Project. A lecture by folklorist Jane Beck, “Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African-American Family Saga,” tells of the history of a remarkable African American family as told by matriarch Daisy Turner.

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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