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Category: AFC History

Sketch of FWP writer and poet Sterling A. Brown

The United States vs. Sterling A. Brown – John Edgar Tidwell

Posted by: Guha Shankar

In this guest blog, Dr. John Edgar Tidwell, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Kansas, focuses on the critical importance of Sterling A. Brown's work as Editor on Negro Affairs for the Depression-era Federal Writers' Project, and his efforts in the struggle against racial inequality by "authenticat[ing] the representations of Blacks in the American Guide Series travel guides." The response to his work by authorities speaks volumes about the repressive political climate that sought to suppress any research and analysis of societal conflict and injustice such as Brown's. Dr. Tidwell presented a version of these remarks at an AFC symposium in June 2023 to mark the publication of the anthology, Rewriting America: New Essays on the Federal Writers’ Project (2022), which critically examines the FWP on its 80th anniversary. It is most appropriate to publish this blog today, since it was 45 years ago today, on November 16, 1978, that the Library of Congress celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Archive of Folk Song with a day-long symposium featuring, among others, Alan Lomax, song-collector and archivist for the Archive in its early years; David "Honeyboy" Edwards, master blues singer and later a Grammy recipient; and Sterling A. Brown, author, poet, and guiding figure in the FWP.

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.

Text of image says Library of Congress, Folklife

AFC Welcomes a New Trustee to the Board: Heather Obernolte

Posted by: John Fenn

  The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress welcomes a new Congressional appointee to the Center’s Board of Trustees: Heather Obernolte, Ph.D. Appointed to the Board by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, she will serve a term that expires June 1, 2028. With a long history as a volunteer and community activism, she …

Sports in the Collections of the American Folklife Center

Posted by: John Fenn

This guest post is from Doug Peach, a Folklife Specialist here at the Library of Congress. In it he describes materials that the Center has drawn on recently for two collection displays focused on sports and community. Introduction The American Folklife Center is, perhaps, best known for its collections of music and storytelling—and for good …

24 people pose for a photo

Ukrainian Musicians Visit American Folklife Center

Posted by: Stephen Winick

On Wednesday, July 5, and Friday, July 7, 2023, the American Folklife Center (AFC) welcomed a delegation of Ukrainian and Ukrainian-American musicians to the Library of Congress. The musicians—Shchuka-Ryba, Bozhychi, Mariya Kvitka, Yaroslav Dzhus, Katya Chilly, and Ukrainian Village Voices—traveled to Washington, D.C. to perform at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Joining the groups were representatives from the Maidan Museum in Kyiv, Ukraine, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, and Dr. James Deutsch—a curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Find out about their visit, and about many of AFC's Ukrainian collections and programs, in this blog post!

A screen capture of the new AFC homepage

A New Look for the AFC Web Pages

Posted by: Stephen Winick

If you've visited the American Folklife Center's main page on the Library of Congress website in the last few days, you may have noticed a change. The pages have been converted to the Library of Congress's new standard format for Research Centers across the Library's divisions. Our legacy URL of will now redirect you to the new landing page. We're excited to share the new site with you, so this blog will guide you to some of its features and provide the link for you to explore.

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

AFC welcomes new Presidential appointees to its Board of Trustees

Posted by: Guha Shankar

The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress welcomes three new Presidential appointees to the Center’s Board of Trustees: Sara C. Bronin, Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), Admiral Rachel Leland Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Charles Sams III, Director of the National Park Service. Each appointee …

Text of image says Library of Congress, Folklife

New Faces at AFC: Staff and Interns

Posted by: John Fenn

Over the past several months we’ve become quite familiar with on-boarding new people here at the Center, as a steady flow of incoming staff and interns have arrived since April. It’s an exciting time for us, and we wanted to share a bit of information about the five wonderful team members who have joined us. …