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Archive: 2023 (100 Posts)

The Green Man and Calendar Customs

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This is an entry in our occasional series on the Green Man, a figure from traditional folk culture. Among the traditional meanings shared by the figures of the Foliate Head and the Wild Man or Green Man seems to have been that humanity, like vegetation, must follow and adapt to the changing seasons. This traditional meaning could well have given rise to a connection between the Green Man and calendar customs, which goes back to some of the earliest appearances of the figure. In this post we’ll look more closely at the Green Man as an element of seasonal celebration.

Head and shoulders portrait of Deena Owens

Folklife Interns 2023 on the Folklife Today Podcast

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're back with another episode of the Folklife Today podcast! In this episode, John Fenn and I talk to our latest cohort of Bartis interns about their work. Each of them created a research guide for the Center, Joe Zavaan Johnson on African American banjo materials and Deena R. Owens on shape-note singing. In this blog we'll give you links to their great work and related resources, and of course the link to the podcast episode itself!

Ivan Castillo serving food and smiling at the camera at the Project Neutral Grounds Launch in New Orleans in November 2022

2023 Homegrown Foodways Film Series: Baltimore and New Orleans: Bringing Two Cities in Dialogue with Each Other through Mexican Food

Posted by: Michelle Stefano

A guest blog post by Professor Sarah Fouts, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, on this year’s AFC Homegrown Foodways Film Series: Baltimore and New Orleans, which features two films premiering on the Folklife Today blog: El Camino del Pan a Baltimore on Tuesday November 7th @ noon ET; and El Camino del Mole a New Orleans on Tuesday November 14th @ noon ET.

Heather Hodges Headshot

AFC Board of Trustees Names New Chair Heather Hodges

Posted by: Nicole Saylor

Heather Hodges was elected chair of the American Folklife Center Board of Trustees at the fall board meeting September 15, 2023. Lori Pourier, CEO of the First Peoples Fund, was elected vice chair. Heather replaces Amy Kitchener, Executive Director for the Alliance of California Traditional Arts, who served as Board chair from 2019-2023. Heather is the Director of Institutional Advancement at the Historic New Orleans Collection, where she raises awareness and finds resources to support the museum's work. Heather has served on the AFC Board since 2020, and her collaborations with AFC date back to 2017. We are thrilled to have her leading the Board in the lead-up to the 50th anniversary of AFC in 2026. She sat down with me recently to talk about her background and her vision for her new role.

Reproductions of two covers--on the left a stylized woodcut of a woman dancing with the devil, on the right a comic-style cover of a man fleeing from ghosts.

Graphics for Halloween and Dia de Muertos

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In this post, we're providing a Blast from Holidays Past, featuring graphic art that we used in the Halloween and Dia de Muertos exhibit LOC Halloween: Chambers of Mystery. As part of that exhibit, which occurred here at the Library of Congress back in 2017, we presented some spooky covers from the Brazilian chapbook genre known as literatura de cordel, as well as some posters created by Library of Congress artist Joon Yi. See these beautiful examples of graphic arts here in the blog, then follow the link to our updated resource guide to Halloween and Dia de Muertos!

Three young girls in colorful makeup and clothes.

Photos for Dia de los Muertos Newly Online

Posted by: Stephen Winick

For Dia de los Muertos 2023, we thought we'd add some never-before-seen photos to the blog of a classic Dia de los Muertos celebration 24 years ago. These photos were submitted to the American Folklife Center as part of Local Legacies, a collection project undertaken by the American Folklife Center in the late 1990s to help celebrate the Library's Bicentennial in 2000. Members of Congress participated in identifying and documenting traditions. Representative Barbara Lee's team submitted the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival from the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, California. Project documentation in the collection included nine 8 x 10 color photographs, which we're reproducing in this blog.

Shape note singers in Chicago, 1977.

New Research Guide: Shape-Note and Sacred Harp Traditions

Posted by: Douglas D. Peach

The American Folklife Center (AFC) has published a new research guide, highlighting collections materials related to shape-note singing and Sacred Harp traditions in the United States. Read this post by Deena R. Owens, the guide's creator and a former AFC intern, to learn more about the research guide, the shape-note singing tradition, and Owens' experiences with this musical culture.

A painting of a May Day procession including a Jack in the Green

Green Man Connections: Jack in the Green and More

Posted by: Stephen Winick

For many years, people have drawn connections among several figures in traditional art: the traditional English Green Man (a wild man clad in leaves who was part of pageants from the mid-sixteenth century); the drawings and carvings of faces covered in leaves (sometimes also called Green Men but previously known as the Foliate Head); the Jack-in-the-Green of Mayday celebrations; the similar figure known as the Garland; and the popular folk hero Robin Hood. This post looks at the history of these connections, from the late Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, illustrated with pictures of the Foliate Head and Jack-in-the-Green.