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Irish American Women on the Folklife Today Podcast

Six people stand around a room. Betsy Peterson is handing an envelope to Mary Gay Scanlon while Alice McDermott looks on.

Betsy Peterson, AFC’s director, gives a copy of the audio recording and notes to Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon on February 6, 2020. Alice McDermott looks on.  Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

We’re back with another episode of the Folklife Today podcast! To round out both Women’s History Month and Irish American Heritage Month, we’re presenting A Tribute to Irish American Women. Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on Stitcher, iTunes, or your usual podcatcher.

As usual, I’ll present links to relevant blog posts, videos, and audio selections in this post.  But first:

Get your podcast here!

To explain the context, on February 6, 2020, the Library of Congress held the live event “Fearless: A Tribute to Irish American Women.” The event featured a conversation among award-winning novelist Alice McDermott, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, and CBS anchor Margaret Brennan. As part of the event, an audio recording selected by the American Folklife Center and presented by our director, Betsy Peterson, served as a prompt for conversation.

As extended programming surrounding this event, staff from four Library divisionsAFCManuscript DivisionPrints & Photographs Division, and Hispanic Division were asked to develop a display of items related to the event that would facilitate connections and engage the public with diverse collections. The Center’s contributions took two forms: a display of collection items for the public and a curated mix of field recordings. (Read more about our participation in this blog post.)

The mix of field recordings we created for the event served as the basis for this podcast episode. To talk about them, John Fenn and I were joined by AFC’s director Betsy Peterson, since she was central to the event. Betsy took the opportunity to tell our followers her news: she’s retiring! We will have more to say about that here on the blog, but until then we wish Betsy the best. We will all miss her. Her long list of accomplishments at AFC includes updating our publications and media engagement through greenlighting both the Folklife Today blog and the podcast. We’ll strive to continue adding to her legacy for a long time to come!

A man and a woman stand behind a table with books, record albums, flyers, photos, and other items on display.

Melanie Zeck and I staffed the table for the display of items in the Library’s Whittall Pavilion on February 6, 2020. Melanie curated the tabletop display seen by our special guests, and I curated the audio selection given to them to take home. Photo by John Fenn.

The episode also included guests Jennifer Cutting and Melanie Zeck. All three guests helped John and me talk about the recordings, so many thanks to all of them!

Following the live event back in 2020, I wrote two extensive blog posts on the audio recordings. Since the items we used on the podcast were a subset of those, you can get all the complete audio, bibliographic information, and background in these two blog posts:

Songs and Tunes from “Fearless: A Tribute to Irish American Women”

More Songs and Tunes from “Fearless: A Tribute to Irish American Women”

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for listening!

In case you need that podcast link again…here it is!

VHP’s New Online Exhibit: Transcribed Correspondence Collections

Today, the Veterans History Project (VHP) debuts “Line by Line: Transcribed Correspondence Collections,” a new online exhibit focusing on nine digitized, fully transcribed correspondence collections. Part of the suite of interpretive resources released earlier this month focusing on letters in the VHP archive, this online exhibit came to life a bit differently than others on […]

Remembering the Life and Work of Tony Barrand: The 2003 Interview [Part 3]

In this post, we continue presenting Jennifer Cutting’s 2003 interview with Tony Barrand, a singer, dancer, academic, writer, teacher, historian, folklorist, curator, producer, and festival organizer, who died on January 29. Barrand donated the Anthony Grant Barrand Collection of Morris, Sword, and Clog Dancing (AFC 2003/005) to AFC in 2003. This post is the third in a series of four posts, each of which will present a portion of the interview. In this post, Barrand discusses the development of Morris dancing in America since he founded the Marlboro Morris Ale, a dance festival in Vermont, in 1976. To show how influential Tony’s event has become, we’ve illustrated this post with many photos of the Marlboro Morris Ale over the years.

Remembering the Life and Work of Tony Barrand: The 2003 Interview [Part 2]

The American Folklife Center mourns the passing of Anthony Grant “Tony” Barrand, a singer, dancer, teacher, and folklorist who donated the Anthony Grant Barrand Collection of Morris, Sword, and Clog Dancing (AFC 2003/005) to AFC in 2003. In addition to making this collection, Barrand has been a proponent of English folk traditions in America for more than 50 years. He was a longtime dancer as well as a singer and musician with the John Roberts and Tony Barrand duo, and with the quartet Nowell Sing We Clear. Barrand, who was born in Lincolnshire and continued growing up in Buckinghamshire, England, died on January 29, 2022 at age 76 in his adopted home of Marlboro, Vermont.

The interview was recorded to audio and video tape and is in the AFC archive. This post is the second in a series of posts, each of which will present a portion of the interview in transcribed form.

Homegrown Plus: Ialoni

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with the Ialoni Ensemble. This women’s vocal and instrumental group was formed in 2009 in Tbilisi in the country of Georgia. Ialoni’s repertoire draws from all three branches of traditional Georgian vocal polyphony: ecclesiastical, folk, and city music. The group selects its repertoire from archival records and manuscripts, field recordings, and published transcriptions, with a special emphasis on reviving relatively unusual, original, and complex songs. They greatly value the character of different chanting schools, as well as the folk and city songs, originating from different regions, taking the time to comprehend them intimately and then bringing them to life with the ensemble’s own signature style. In the interview you’ll hear about the different types of Georgian polyphonic singing and the repertoires of religious songs, folk songs, and urban songs. We spoke about how Georgians typically learn this music, and where and when they sing and play it. We discuss the concept behind their beautiful concert video as well. We even got a demonstration of some of their favorite instruments. Watch both videos, and find interesting links to more Georgian content, in this post!

“Dear Folks”: Highlighting VHP’s New Suite of Correspondence Collection Resources

Spend any time with Veterans History Project (VHP) collections, and it becomes clear that mail frequently played a central role in the military experiences of many veterans, particularly those who served in the days before electronic communications. Often, letters served as the sole, fragile link between servicemen and women and their families and friends. Written […]

Remembering the Life and Work of Tony Barrand: The 2003 Interview [Part 1]

The American Folklife Center mourns the passing of Anthony Grant “Tony” Barrand, a singer, dancer, teacher, and folklorist who donated the Anthony Grant Barrand Collection of Morris, Sword, and Clog Dancing (AFC 2003/005) to AFC in 2003. In addition to making this collection, Barrand has been a proponent of English folk traditions in America for more than 50 years. He was a longtime dancer as well as a singer and musician with the John Roberts and Tony Barrand duo, and with the quartet Nowell Sing We Clear. Barrand, who was born in Lincolnshire and continued growing up in Buckinghamshire, England, died on January 29, 2022 at age 76 in his adopted home of Marlboro, Vermont.

The interview was recorded to audio and video tape and is in the AFC archive. This post is the first in a series of posts, each of which will present a portion of the interview in transcribed form.

I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Illustrate My Letter

The following is a guest blog post by Justina Moloney, an archivist at the Veterans History Project (VHP). I’ve always wished I had a more skillful ability to draw. Of course, I can doodle like nobody’s business, but to truly master even the basics of perspective and form, that I’m lacking. I’ve doodled while taking […]

‘We have our own long history and culture’: Listening to Taissa Decyk, Ukrainian American Artist

“Now, this tablecloth,” Taissa Decyk says, “I was in a camp expecting my first child, who is now thirty-one, when I made this tablecloth.” In September 1979, Mrs. Taissa Decyk was interviewed in her Providence home about her extensive knowledge of Ukrainian embroidery traditions. Conducted by folklorist Geraldine Niva Johnson, the interview was for the […]

Celebrate International Women’s Day with I am Not Invisible 3.0 Women Veteran Panel

The following is a post about the upcoming Veterans History Project (VHP) virtual discussion panel, “I Am Not Invisible 3.0” Women veterans panel discussion.   March is Women’s History Month, a time for the veteran community to draw its attention to the two-million women who wore our nation’s uniform. Women veterans are our family members, friends and […]