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Masking and Mumming for the Holidays, Thanksgiving Style!

Happy Thanksgiving! In this post, we’ll take a look at a set of interesting photos from the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division. They depict a custom most people nowadays don’t know much about: Thanksgiving masking. Thanksgiving maskers, like trick-or-treaters on contemporary Halloween, used to go door to door, begging for handouts. They also […]

Don’t Worry, Turkey on Thanksgiving is Historically Accurate!

Each year, as Thanksgiving Day rolls around, the blogosphere is bombarded with articles telling us that everything we know about Thanksgiving is wrong. In particular, these articles focus on the three-day event in autumn 1621, during which English colonists at Plymouth, Massachusetts, hosted 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe for a feast. Skeptical articles revisiting […]

Thanksgiving Road Trip

The following is the fourth in a series relating to the Medal of Honor. Thanksgiving, with millions of Americans on the road, is one of the busiest travel seasons of the year.  If you’re doing the traveling this year, I implore you to try a new travel game: find the Medal of Honor landmarks/monuments across America, and the recipients […]

Festivus and Family Lore

This time of year many people celebrate Festivus, an alternative holiday that is based on a single episode of the television show Seinfeld, “The Strike,” which aired on December 18, 1997. It is most commonly celebrated on December 23 or another date in December, but it can be celebrated at other times of the year. […]

Songs of the Harvest

Thanksgiving days were declared by United States Presidents at various times in American history, beginning with George Washington making November  26, 1789, a day of thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving was not established as a regular yearly Federal holiday until 1870. So there are not a great many songs specifically for American Thanksgiving, and these were composed […]

The Narragansett People in the Rhode Island Folklife Project

Folklorist Tom Burns, working as a fieldworker in the Rhode Island Folklife Project in 1979, sought out the Narragansett people, crossing the border into Connecticut to find tribal leaders with whom to talk. At that time the Narragansetts were somewhat spread out, as they had no lands. What they did have was a strong desire […]

Working Together Apart: Virtual 20th/20th Vision

The following is a guest blog post by Yvonne Brown, a processing technician for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP). It is the sixth in a series from VHP staff. Click on the following names to read previous articles in this series: Tamika Brown– Processing Technician Andrew Huber– Liaison Specialist Tracey Dodson– Administrative […]

“Doing Something Useful:” A Tribute to AFC’s longtime volunteer, Howard Kramer

This is a guest post by processing coordinator Ann Hoog, who among many other things, coordinates interns and volunteers at the American Folklife Center. One of the American Folklife Center’s long-time volunteers, Marshall Howard Kramer, passed away April 30, 2020, of COVID-19. Howard was a beloved member of AFC’s family for nearly 20 years. He […]

Intern reflection: Claire Denny

This is a guest post by our Fall 2019 volunteer intern, Claire Denny. She is currently in her second term as a Master’s degree student in the Folklore Program at George Mason University. When I received a phone call this past summer from the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center (AFC), I had to compose […]