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2019 Mummers’ Play: AFC Mums While Washington Burns

Read the text and see the photos of the American Folklife Center’s holiday play! It’s 1814 and the U.S. Capitol has been burned by the British. President James Madison throws Library of Congress collections in a sleigh and seeks help from Father Christmas and the preservation specialists at the North Pole Library! The latest version of our play, which tours the halls of the Library of Congress. Each year, dressed in costumes that range from striking to silly, we sing, act, rhyme, and dance for other Library staff members and for members of the public. Our performances are based on the ancient tradition of mumming, which has come down to our archive in the form of play scripts, songs, photos, and other items collected in the early twentieth century.

Mumming Up: AFC Mumming on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The American Folklife Center Mummers will present their annual mummers’ ; play in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11. It’s open to the public, so come on in and see us perform! This year’s play is called AFC Mums While Washington Burns: A Conservation Mumming. It’s 1814 and the Capitol has just been burned by the British, so James Madison throws Library collections in a dogsled and heads for the conservators at the North Pole Library.

Filling the Cornucopia

At this time of year we gather to give thanks, for many things that have been important to us during the year, but a common theme is thanks for our food. The holiday falls in the time of the harvest. Different cultural groups around the world also celebrate the harvest with a variety of customs […]

Spiders and Skin-Changers: Two African American Witch Tales for Halloween

It’s almost Halloween, and therefore time for spooky stories here at Folklife Today! Witches are, of course, a big part of American Halloween, and the witch is one of the most popular characters featured in costumes and decorations. These range from the standard image of a woman with a pointy hat and a broom, to […]

Say Their Name. Learn Their Story.

As we rejoice in the splendor of a three-day weekend, it is imperative that we acknowledge the true purpose of Memorial Day: to remember our national history and guiding principles through paying homage to those who laid down their lives for the ideals we hold dear.  It’s a day to get to know these individuals, to […]

Herstory, ‘Crowded Wartime Washington’ and the Code Girls Reunion

The following is a guest blog post by Sally Sims Stokes, the daughter of World War II “Code Girl” Jean Ashby Sims. “Dear Library,” my mother begins the World War II memoir she completed in 2008 for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. This salutation was her way of responding, as if in a […]