{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/folklife.php' }

Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: U.S. Territories

Photo of an old church

Frederiksted, Saint Croix, Virgin Islands … church. Photo by Jack Delano, 1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Staff at the American Folklife Center continue to use new digital tools to support remote discovery and access for our resources by users of all kinds. Whether you are a community scholar, a teacher, an academic researcher, a creative artist, or a curious consumer of local culture we hope that our geographically-oriented research guides offer an entry point into the rich collections and resources maintained at the Center! Find the full menu  Library of  Congress Research Guides at this link.

In this post, we focus on the guides for U.S. Territories. The territories with currently available guides are American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. Territories are widely separate from each other, with distinct cultures and histories, each fascinating to explore.

Our research guides for each state and territory provide information about collections related to that state or territory—including links to those materials available online—as well as tips for searching the Library’s online catalog. In addition, we’ve gathered other AFC resources related to a given state, such as blog posts, podcast episodes, online finding aids, and webcasts of public programs. Here are some of the items you’ll find in the U.S. Territories guides:

Library Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: American Samoa. Screenshot of the introduction shows a video of dancers inserted in the guide

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: American Samoa.

The guide American Folklife Center Collections: American Samoa features a 2021 video of dance and song by Samoan Studies Institute Students Association for Fa’asamoa. There is also a link to an important collection of South Pacific music and culture: the Fahnestock South Sea collection, 1939-1994, which includes recordings of songs from American Samoa and some silent film footage of dance.

Library Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Guam. The image is Cover of the program book for Taotao Latte - Seventh Festival of Pacific Arts, 1996.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Guam.

The guide to American Folklife Center Collections: Guam features Guam materials documented as part of the 2000 Local Legacies Project. The Bess Lomax Hawes Collection also includes Guam materials.

Library Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Puerto Rico. The screenshot of the introduction shows a photograph of Puerto Rican singers.

Screenshot of the introduction to American Folklife Center Collections: Puerto Rico.

American Folklife Center Collections: Puerto Rico features Sidney Robertson Cowell’s recordings of Puerto Rican Songs performed by Aurora Calderon, Eleanor Rodriguez, and Cruz Losada in 193, available online as part of California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties as well as Puerto Rican culture documented as part of the American Folklife Center field project, the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection.

American Folklife Center Collections: U.S. Virgin Islands includes a link to “Collection Spotlight: Children’s Songs from the Virgin Islands” in Folklife Today with recordings of children’s songs from the U.S. Virgin Islands. It also provides information to more collections that can be explored in the Folklife Reading Room.

As this brief introduction to these guides shows, there is a lot to learn from these guides whether you plan to browse the collection materials online or are planning a trip into the reading room.  We hope that researcher, students, and folks who, perhaps just want to experience some folklore or folk music from a particular U.S. territory will find these new guides a good place to start.

Be sure to visit the Library of Congress Research Guides pages in order to discover the full spread of resources on offer! And, also know that American Folklife Center staff have generated (and continue to produce) guides focused on a wide range of topics. You can find the growing body of these rich and dynamic resources from the American Folklife Center here.

Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: Pacific Region States

Staff at the American Folklife Center continue to use new digital tools to support remote discovery and access for our resources by users of all kinds. Whether you are a community scholar, a teacher, an academic researcher, a creative artist, or a curious consumer of local culture we hope that our geographically-oriented research guides offer […]

Puertorriqueños de Estados Unidos: Identity, Arts, and Culture

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean. Puerto Rican migration to the mainland United States has largely been driven by economic necessity, whether of individuals’ needs to earn more to support themselves and their families, or large scale economic events such as the Great Depression and other […]

Jennifer Lopez, Plus Pete Seeger, Bernie Sanders, Sea Shanties, and More at No Depression

Over at No Depression, read my musings about the 2021 inauguration, including Jennifer Lopez’s rendition of “This Land is Your Land” and the song’s journey from its author Woody Guthrie to its performances at the Obama and Biden inaugurations. You’ll read about the song’s appearance at the 2009 inauguration, where it was led by Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger. We’ll also revisit a classic rendition of “This Land” by Senator Bernie Sanders. Embedded throughout the piece you’ll find some video treasures from the AFC archive: three versions of “This Land is Your Land” sung entirely or partially in Spanish. We’ll also take a side trip into the January 2021 sea shanty craze on social media, and hear Springsteen’s version of the classic shanty “Pay Me My Money Down,” as well as the Alan Lomax field recording of the Georgia Sea Island Singers.

Live! In the Archive: an Interview with Lone Piñon

On January 29th, the AFC launched the Live! In the Archive concert series, where artists are invited to perform selections from the Center’s collections live in its reading room. The first artists featured in this new concert series were Lone Piñon. The video of their Live! In the Archive concert is embedded in this blog post, which also contains an interview with Jordan Wax and Tanya Nuñez of Lone Piñon.

Getting Inspired from Home on the Folklife Today Podcast!

Episode eighteen of the Folklife Today Podcast (or Season 2, Episode 6) is ready for listening! Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on Stitcher, iTunes, or your usual podcatcher. It’s the first episode of the podcast that we’ve created from our homes, while unable to return to our offices or studio in the Library of Congress due to the social distancing measures imposed by Covid-19.  In the episode, John Fenn and I talk to three AFC staff members, Allina Migoni, Michelle Stefano, and Maya Lerman, about folklife collections and items that have been inspiring to them in this strange and difficult time.  We also talk about some of the materials that have been inspiring us. As usual, there are lots of audio excerpts from tunes, songs, and interviews in AFC collections.

Finding Solace in California Gold

This guest post by Alda Allina Migoni of the AFC reference staff is the first in a series of posts called Staff Finds During Difficult Times, in which staff members discuss collections and items that have been inspiring them while they are working at home during the covid-19 pandemic or in other difficult circumstances.  In […]

Homegrown Plus: Grupo Rebolú’s Afro-Colombian Music

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the series with a concert and oral history with Grupo Rebolú. Grupo Rebolú is an Afro-Colombian musical ensemble that includes some of the finest Colombian […]

Which One Do You Love Most?

It’s Valentine’s Day. It seems everyone has love on their minds today—at least half of us, anyway. Last year, the National Retail Federation predicted that 54.7% of the United States adult population was planning to celebrate the holiday with their significant others, friends or pets to the tune of nearly $20 billion. Yes, billion with […]