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Lead Belly, Alan Lomax and the Relevance of a Renewed Interest in American Vernacular Music

The following is a guest blog post by Dom Flemons, a musician and singer who currently tours and records as “The American Songster.”  Dom was one of the founders of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, with whom he has played at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium, and with whom he won a GRAMMY Award.  Dom […]

Poetry Afield

When ethnographers collect poetry in the course of a fieldwork project, they are often looking for something in addition to a recitation of an entertaining poem. Poetry, like songs or stories, can tell us something about the culture in which it is found, the local ideas about what makes a good poem, information about languages […]

The Sherman Holmes Project

The following is a guest post by folklorist and blues scholar Barry Lee Pearson.  It introduces the Sherman Holmes Project, which will play in the Library’s Homegrown Concert Series on Wednesday, April 15.  More concert information is at this link! During the 1940s, job opportunities in Northern industrial centers attracted rural African Americans from throughout […]

Honoring Vernacular Sounds: AFC Recordings on the National Recording Registry

Last week, the Library announced this year’s inductees to the National Recording Registry.  There, along with classics by The Doors, Radiohead, Steve Martin, and Joan Baez, was a fascinating AFC collection: The Benjamin Ives Gilman Collection Recorded at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago. This collection of 101 wax cylinder recordings was created by […]

Marching In Montgomery, 1965, Reconsidered

Montgomery in March, 1965, Reconsidered:
The Perspective from the Other Side of the Lens

Marchers with "One Man, One Vote" signs & watchful police, 03/17-18/1965, Montgomery, AL; Glen Pearcy Collection (afc2012040_067_13.jpg)

Marchers with “One Man, One Vote” signs & watchful police, 03/17-18/1965, Montgomery, AL; Glen Pearcy Collection (afc2012040_067_13.jpg)

This week’s blog is a companion piece to my previous post on the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Campaign in Alabama. Both blogs have provided a great opportunity for the AFC to share examples of Glen Pearcy’s singular photo documentation from the front lines of the freedom struggle in Montgomery from March 15 to 19, 1965.  Glen’s reflections below on his experiences in Montgomery help draw a frame around the scenes he photographed during those dramatic days. He also offers an interesting self-critique of his fledgling documentary skills and approach to documentary photography.

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Two Veterans, Two Wars, Two Remarkable Women

The month of March is designated as Women’s History Month–a time set aside to pay tribute to the contributions women have made to society from years past to contemporary times. Each year, the Library of Congress and many other national agencies offer special programming and exhibits, as well as feature collections and resources that are […]

Marching in Montgomery, 1965

Montgomery in March, 1965: Images from the front lines of the freedom struggle Selma has been much in public consciousness in recent months, owing to the release of the movie of the same name, the city’s historical place and symbolic importance in the (renewed) contention over voting rights in the nation and, of course, this […]

Voices of African American Women

One reason I became interested in the study of folklife was to learn through the voices of peoples who are often under-represented in history. As this is the end of February, African American History Month, and March is Women’s History Month, it seems a good time to take a look at what African American women have to teach us. The primary-source collections of the American Folklife Center, and the Library as a whole, provide wonderful ways to experience history as presented by African American women.

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Q & A with Journalist Vern Smith on the Voices of Civil Rights Project Collection

Two weeks ago, Beth Domingo of AARP’s Life Reimagined Institute and journalist Vern Smith came to the American Folklife Center to talk with us about their work on the Voices of Civil Rights project (AFC 2005/015), sponsored by AARP and donated to the Library of Congress in 2005, and to hear about our recent work […]

Recognizing African-American Veterans This Month and All Other Months Too

As a native Washingtonian, I grew up in a predominantly African American community and proudly attended D.C. Public Schools, where Black History was taught as a regular part of the curriculum, and not just during February. As far as my elementary school music teacher was concerned, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” also known as “The […]