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Category: AFC History

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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. …

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Swedish Women’s Education Association Visit Swedish Treasures from Library of Congress Collections

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This blog post details a visit by members of the the Swedish Women's Education Association of DC (SWEA DC) to the Library of Congress. Curators from the European Reading Room, the Manuscript Division, and the American Folklife Center presented treasures related to Swedish and Swedish American history, literature and folklore. In the post you can read more about these treasures, and follow links to view many of them for yourself.

A woman dances wearing a crown

“Re-writing America”: AFC Symposium on the Federal Writers’ Project, June 16, 2023

Posted by: Guha Shankar

A June 16th Library symposium entitled Rewriting America: Reconsidering the Federal Writers' Project 80 Years Later will bring attention to the enduring legacy and importance of the archival materials and mansucripts produced by a small army of unemployed writers, historians, librarians, teachers, and others for the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) of the 1930s. The symposium will illustrate how this Library collection continues to inform and inspire public outreach and interdisciplinary scholarship in fields ranging from public and oral history to journalism to ethnic studies and folklore. Dr. Alessandro Portelli will deliver the keynote address, which will be livestreamed. Learn more about the in-person symposium and how to attend, as well as how to attend the livestreamed keynote address, in this blog post.

Half-length portrait of a young man playing guitar

Ten Thousand Cattle for Our One Thousandth Post

Posted by: Stephen Winick

It's hard to believe, but this is the 1000th published post here at Folklife Today! To celebrate, we'll talk about one of the songs on the Archive's 1000th disc. It reveals a lot about the history of the archive, the methods of Alan Lomax, and the development of a well known cowboy song. It also introduces us to "Daca," a little-known folksinger active from the 1920s through the 1940s, whom we'll profile in a later post. This track is known as AFS 1000 B2, and is Alan Lomax, then Assistant-in-Charge of the archive, singing "Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle." In the blog you can hear the song, read about where Lomax learned it, find out about its roots in "The Virginian" by novelist Owen Wister, and examine the influence of Lomax's version on the song as it was later sung by cowboys.

Woman playing a banjo onstage

Caught My Ear: The Pineconers Live at Albert Hall, 1983!

Posted by: John Fenn

Every so often I dive into our online collections in search of interesting fieldwork materials to share, especially anything from the large-scale field surveys that the Center facilitated from the late 1970s on through the mid- 1990s (visit an interactive Story Map about these projects). Just the other day I visited the Pinelands Folklife Project collection, used the faceted search options to pull together all audio files also tagged as “songs” and started listening. One particular 32-minute field recording caught my ear, so I’ve shared it in full in this blog.

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

The American Folklife Center: 2022 in Review

Posted by: Nicole Saylor

As 2022 draws to a close, we at the American Folklife Center want to take time to reflect on a year devoted to deepening our commitment to community-centered stewardship, adapting to hybrid work and planning for the future. The year was marked by the Library’s return to full onsite operations, leadership transitions, and moves to new public and staff spaces that make way for the transformation of the Jefferson Building. The year brought waves of change and staff rose to the challenge. Read about the year's highlights in this blog post from AFC's new director!

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

Natalie Merchant, Martha González and Ricardo L. Punzalan Appointed to American Folklife Center’s Board of Trustees

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress is pleased to announce the appointment of platinum-selling recording artist Natalie Merchant, musician and MacArthur Fellow Martha González, and community archiving scholar Ricardo L. Punzalan to the American Folklife Center Board of Trustees. We are also happy to report that legislative liaison Jean Dorton and theater professor John Patrick Rice have been reappointed to the board. Read more in this post at Folklife Today!

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

Guthries, Lomaxes, and Seegers

Posted by: Todd Harvey

The "Great Folk Scare" of the 1930s-1950s had few surnames more prominent than Guthrie, Lomax, or Seeger. They were multi-generational families who today continue to practice folk music and illuminate tradition bearers. The American Folklife Center holds archival collections documenting these families and so we have produced guides to aid research access. This blog post explains and introduces the new guides.

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

Nicole Saylor Is the New AFC Director

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The American Folklife Center is delighted to announce that Nicole "Nicki" Saylor has been appointed the fourth Director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, effective May 22, 2022. Followers of the American Folklife Center will remember Nicki as the head, and then director, of the Archive of Folk Culture, which is AFC's archive, from 2012 to 2021. "The Center's work of preserving and presenting stories, songs and living traditions from all over the world is more important than ever," Nicki says. "The staff is so innovative and committed to the work. It's a dream job and I am excited!"