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Becky Elzy and Alberta Bradford: Spiritual Folklorists

This blog post about the “Two Sweet Singers” Becky Elzy and Alberta Bradford is part of a series called “Hidden Folklorists,” which examines the folklore work of surprising people, including people better known for other pursuits. In preparing this post, I was greatly aided by Shane K. Bernard, the archivist at Avery Island in Louisiana, […]

Sharpened Pencils and Sharper Minds: World War II Women Code Breakers

The following is the first post in a six-part series highlighting women veterans’ collections from the Veterans History Project (VHP) archive in recognition of Women’s History Month. Imagine coming across this job announcement today: Candidates must be highly skilled in math and linguistics, willing to relocate and able to keep a secret to the death. […]

Bessie Jones Tells a Spooky Story: “Married to the Devil”

With Halloween just around the corner, the Library of Congress is gearing up for an exhibition of our best spooky treasures. The event is called LOC Halloween: Chambers of Mystery, and it’s sure to add both cheer and chills to your All Hallows season. As part of the effort, I’ve been looking through AFC’s collections for […]

“People Who Stood Up”: Mississippi Women in the Civil Rights Movement

This guest blog post comes to us courtesy of Catherine Turner, a high school senior working at the American Folklife Center this Spring on her service project for Park School in Baltimore, MD. Catherine is entering Brown University in Fall 2017, and has spent the last six weeks diving into the collections at the Library […]

Teaching the Japanese Tea Ceremony: Mine Somi Kubose

Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism—Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts […]

From Thread to Fabric to Art

Before the industrial era, much of the work of the creation of clothing was done at home or at small shops. Spinning was a daily activity. Depending on one’s culture, the production of thread and yarn might be entirely women’s work, or work done by the whole family.  In northern Europe, spinning was so closely […]

Agnes Vanderburg’s Outdoor School for Traditional Indian Ways

“A lot of things come out of my chest,” Agnes Vanderburg explained in 1979 when folklorist Kay Young asked about her reasons for starting a school to pass on her knowledge of Salish Indian traditions (recording at the link, go to 1:50 minutes). She had felt frustrated at carrying knowledge that was disappearing as Indians […]

The Importance of Capturing the Stories of Women Veterans

The Importance of Capturing the Stories of Women Veterans” is the second of three collaborative blog posts featuring authors from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Women Veterans, the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) and a sailor whose story is preserved among the permanent collections of the Library of Congress. […]