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Rediscovering Lomax: Joshua Clegg Caffery and “I Wanna Sing Right”

During the centennial year of the great folklorist Alan Lomax (1915-2002), we at AFC have been celebrating his legacy in all kinds of ways: digitizing collections, sponsoring performances, encouraging publications, creating web content, designing exhibits…even writing blog posts! One of the things we most loved about Alan was his concern that the field recordings he […]

The Folklore and Folksong of Trains in America, Part Two

This is the second part of a two-part article on the folklore of trains. Part one, focusing on the development of railroads in the United States and related songs and lore can be found here. Part Two: Trains and American Culture The coming of the railroads made profound changes in life and culture in the […]

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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