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Work Songs and Other Laborlore for Labor Day

With Labor Day approaching, I’d love to introduce you to some of our resources on the folklore and folklife of labor. This area of study has many names, from the more formal “occupational folk culture” to the more colloquial “laborlore.”  It also has many sub-areas, from the study of occupational folk speech, including jargon, to […]

Celebrating Pi

March 14 (3/14) is Pi Day and July 22 (22/7 in the European date style) is Pi Approximation Day. In mathematics a common shortened figure for pi is 3.14 while the most well-known “approximate pi” is 22 divided by 7 (3.1428571428571428). These two celebrations of the most famous irrational number on dates related to that […]

Some Songs for Mother’s Day

The tradition of a national celebration of Mother’s Day in the United States grew out of reactions to the aftermath of the Civil War. Poet, suffragist, and author of the lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Julia Ward Howe attempted to unite women in the cause of peace, beginning with her “Appeal to […]

From Cornwall to the Ozarks: More May Celebrations

  As you can read in Stephanie Hall’s Post “May Day: A Festival of Flowers,” on May Day, or May 1, people in Europe traditionally celebrated the coming of summer with songs, dances, and ceremonies.  But confining our understanding to one day alone would limit the materials we can share with you regarding springtime holidays, […]

Narratives of Women and Girls: the Center for Applied Linguistics Collection

For Women’s History Month, I thought it would be interesting to highlight some examples of interviews with women and girls in American English Dialects: The Center for Applied Linguistics Collection. This online collection is one of several dialect collections in the American Folklife Center archive. With a little digging, such collections can yield exciting examples of […]

Songs of US Presidents

For Presidents’ Day, take a look at the new presentation The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America. [1] This article will provide links giving you a start. George Washington had songs written for him while he was a general.  An example is “General Washington,” which was printed on a single side of a […]

Love Songs at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century

For Valentine’s Day, let’s examine love songs in the light of historical changes of the early twentieth century, through the new presentation The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America. As the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, love underwent many changes: young people wanted relationships without much involvement from parents and elders, […]

Auld Acquaintance for the New Year: Burns’s Auld Lang Syne

As the Old Year turns to the New Year, thousands of people around the world will sing along to “Auld Lang Syne,” a Scottish song that has come to be firmly associated with New Year’s celebrations. The song has a fascinating history, and we’re lucky at the Library of Congress to have several unique items […]