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Update: Lomax transcription review challenge

At the start of this month we announced a “challenge” for the Lomax crowdsourcing campaign on the Library’s By the People platform. To refresh your memory, the campaign is focused on transcribing about 9000 pages of handwritten and typed Alan Lomax manuscripts. The ultimate goal is to create machine-readable electronic text versions of Lomax’s materials so […]

Pitch in to review crowdsourced Lomax transcriptions!

Back in September, the American Folklife Center helped launch a crowdsourcing campaign focused on transcribing about 9000 pages of handwritten and typed Alan Lomax manuscripts. This campaign is running on By the People, the crowdsourcing platform developed by the Library of Congress. The ultimate goal is to create machine-readable electronic text versions of Lomax’s materials […]

More About the Business of Scrooge and Marley: an Ethnographic Approach

A few years ago, my esteemed colleague Ellen Terrell wrote an excellent blog post at Inside Adams, examining from a business perspective the firm of Scrooge and Marley, the fictional business at the center of Charles Dickens’s classic work of Christmas literature, A Christmas Carol. I thought I would see what an ethnographic perspective could […]

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.

The Terrain of Freedom: Mapping Stories about People and Places in the African American Struggle for Justice, Rights, & Equality

I wish I knew how It would feel to be free I wish I could break All the chains holding me I wish I could say All the things that I should say Say ’em loud, say ’em clear For the whole round world to hear Nina Simone, I Wish I Knew How It Would […]

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 […]

Podcast: Episode 14, on “The Dodger,” is Ready for Listening

Episode Fourteen of the Folklife Today Podcast (or Season 2, Episode 2) is ready for listening! The episode presents a deep dive into a single song, known either as “The Candidate’s a Dodger” or simply as “The Dodger.” In the episode, Thea Austen, Jennifer Cutting, and I look at the classic folksong , discussing the song’s meanings in oral tradition, its use by Aaron Copland as an art song, and its involvement in political controversy in the 1930s, when Charles Seeger first published it. We examine the song’s history and lay out new evidence about its relationships to other folksongs and to a musical theater song from 1840s England. We also discuss the possibility that Charles Seeger, a founder of ethnomusicology and a pioneering federal folklorist, was himself a “dodger!” The episode includes performances by folksingers Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, and Peggy Seeger, as well as baritone Thomas Hampson, and five field recordings from the Library of Congress.

Folklife at the International Level: Happy Anniversary to the 1999 UNESCO-Smithsonian Meeting

The Folklife at the International Level series has set out on a winding road, tracing the concept of “intangible cultural heritage” (ICH) as developed through a series of international initiatives over the course of the late 20th century. As the signs posted throughout have indicated, this road leads to the global framework for ICH promotion and […]

NAMES project special display on view until Dec. 2

On November 20th, the American Folklife Center participated in an event at the Library of Congress announcing the “next chapter” of the AIDS Memorial Quilt project. You can read about that event in a previous blog post that also includes a link to the livestream video of the event, and also view some photos by American […]