The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress is pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of its three competitive annual fellowships and awards programs: the Archie Green Fellowships; the Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund Award; and the Blanton Owen Award. This year, these three awards went to eleven projects throughout the United States, whose proposals were reviewed and selected by internal and external panels at the American Folklife Center.
Archie Green Fellowships
The Archie Green Fellowships were established to honor the memory of Archie Green (1917-2009), a pioneering folklorist who championed the establishment of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and who was awarded the Library’s Living Legend Award and honored in the Congressional Record [pdf]. Green documented and analyzed the culture and traditions of American workers and encouraged others to do the same. Archie Green Fellowships are designed to stimulate innovative research projects documenting occupational culture in contemporary America. This year, Archie Green Fellowships went to five projects in five different states:
Lisa Gabbert, a folklorist and Professor of English at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, received funding to research “Oral Histories of Physicians’ Work: An Inside Perspective on Doctoring.” AFC funding will enable her to interview approximately 15 physicians in various medical specialties and collect oral histories about their training, occupational traditions, and daily work environments. The AFC archive presently contains few, if any, interviews with working physicians and this project will help fill this gap.
Anna-Lisa Cox, a historian working at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, as well as Hope College in Holland, Michigan, received an Archie Green Fellowship to interview “Multigenerational and First-Generation African American Farmers of the Midwest.” AFC funding will enable her to document the family histories and contemporary work experiences of approximately 25 multigenerational African American farmers whose families established farms in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin beginning in the 1790s.
Josephine McRobbie and Joseph O’Connell, independent folklorists based in Durham, North Carolina, received an Archie Green Fellowship to document “The Culture of Birth Work in North Carolina.” The researchers will focus on the occupational folklife of midwives and doulas working in a variety of institutional settings, including academic research hospitals, local community practices in underserved communities, and private homes. They will document the experiences of approximately 20 contemporary birth workers and explore the vast body of knowledge that they have inherited, learned, and practiced in the course of their professional duties.
Delainey Bowers, an independent folklorist from Bowling Green, Kentucky, received an Archie Green Fellowship to support her project “Gimmicks, Gold, and Gushers: The Occupational Folklife of Independent Professional Wrestlers.” The recipient will interview approximately 12 participants working on this popular, but largely unexplored Appalachian regional sport and entertainment circuit and document the voices of workers “who function as both athletes and storytellers.”
Sarah K. Filkins, an independent scholar from Washington, DC, is receiving support for her project “Women Architects.” Filkins is a senior researcher with training in both architecture and oral history. She will conduct oral history interviews with a diverse group of approximately 15 women architects working in large or medium-sized architecture firms owned by women or husband-wife teams, as well as in government offices and universities. She will document the voices of those who “have labored long and hard to create architectural solutions and advance in an industry that historically ignored their contributions and questioned their inclusion.”
Blanton Owen Fund Awards
The Blanton Owen award was established in 1999 in memory of folklorist Blanton Owen by his family and friends. It is awarded every other year to support ethnographic field research and documentation in the United States, especially by young scholars and documentarians. This year, Blanton Owen Fellowships were awarded to:
Mariángel Villalobos of College Park, Maryland, received a Blanton Owen Fellowship to document three Salvadoran festivals in Maryland in September, 2019. She will document the Festival Guanaco, the Festival Hispano, and the Festival Salvadoreñísimo in order to provide a better understanding of the Central American diaspora in Maryland, explore the role of festivals in celebrations of Central American independence, and create ethnomusicological documentation of transnational Salvadoran music.
Byrd McDaniel of Providence, Rhode Island, received a Blanton Owen Fellowship to conduct preliminary research for a documentation project on YouTube content creators focusing on disability, visibility, and labor. The award will enable her to attend the PAXEast conference to make contacts and network with online content creators for subsequent, more comprehensive interviews.
Kathryn Alexander of the University of Arizona received support to document queer country western culture at the Zia Regional Rodeo in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her research will inform her book project documenting rural queer cultures as an often overlooked and marginalized segment of the American LGBTQ experience.
Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund Awards
The Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons fund was founded by AFC reference librarian Gerry Parsons (1940-1995) in honor of his parents. It enables individuals to come to the Library of Congress to pursue research at the American Folklife Center and other divisions of the Library of Congress with ethnographic holdings. This year, Parsons Awards were awarded to the following individuals and projects:
Jaime Arsenault of Greenfield, Massachusetts, who serves as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer as well as the Repatriation Representative and Tribal Archives Director of the White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, received a Parsons award to continue research in locating and repatriating cultural heritage materials from the White Earth Band held in AFC and Library archives. As the White Earth Band’s main point of contact for consultation with government agencies and museums, she will also be furthering her previous research that was part of the AFC and Washington State University’s Tribal Digital Stewardship Cohort and Mukurtu CMS end-user program (February 2019).
New Mexican musicians Jordan Wax of Santa Fe and Noah Martinez of Albuquerque received funding to research the Library’s Jack Loeffler and Katherine Strain and Arthur L. Campa collections in order to identify historic recordings of Hispanic musicians who are otherwise undocumented and whose repertoire has largely disappeared in New Mexico. In addition to studying Northern New Mexican archival materials, they will draw on their research to re-introduce examples of this traditional repertoire to a new generation of New Mexican musicians through performances of their group, Lone Piñon.
Eric Hung, the Executive Director of the new Music of Asian America Research Center in Burlington, New Jersey, received a Parsons award to conduct research in AFC and Library collections documenting Asian American music ensembles that were active from the 1970s to the 1990s. His research will inform a larger project that seeks to raise the visibility of Asian American communities and their musical contributions to the U.S. by creating a website where these collections and items can be promoted to wider audiences.
About the Center and the Library
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American Folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the American Folklife Center Archive of folk culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information, visit the AFC homepage at loc.gov/folklife.
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website at loc.gov.website at loc.gov.