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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 […]

Belief, Legend, and the Great Moon Hoax

During the week of August 25, 1835, the world was treated to a fantastic story of scientific discoveries by the famous British astronomer, Sir John Herschel. He had realized the speculations of his father, astronomer Sir William Herschel, as he discovered life on the moon.[1]  Or so the readers of The New York Sun were […]

The Two First “Folk-Lore” Columns

This post presents two primary source documents, both in the public domain, which are difficult to find online. Both relate to my previous post on William John Thoms. They are the first two columns in Thoms’ series “Folk-Lore,” which ran in the journal The Athenæum from 1846 to 1849, and in Notes & Queries from […]

“He Coined the Word ‘Folk-Lore'”: The “Old Folk-Lorist” William John Thoms

August 22 is an important date to folklore fans.  It is, in fact, the anniversary of the first appearance of the (originally hyphenated) word “Folk-Lore” in print. The medium was a letter to the editor of the Athenæum, a scholarly journal, and the author was William John Thoms, although he wrote the letter under his […]

The Quebe Sisters: Western Swing & Texas-Style Fiddle

The following is a guest post by Charles Lockwood, the Operations & Development Director of Texas Folklife, Austin Texas. Mr. Lockwood has an MA in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Quebe Sisters Band performs in AFC’s Homegrown Concert Series on August 20, 2014. Follow the link for more information. While their […]

Teaching with the Civil Rights History Project

This summer, 125 teachers from around the country came to Washington to participate in five Library of Congress Summer Teachers Institutes to learn more about using the library’s primary sources in the classroom. At each week-long institute, staff from the American Folklife Center and the Veterans History Project participate in an open house, where curators […]

Ode to a (Canned) Peach

One of the standard questions that we suggest Veterans History Project interviewers ask veterans is, “How was the food?” This simple question can yield surprising answers, and uncover fascinating elements of the military experience. After seeing my blog post about holiday menus in the military, VHP director Bob Patrick mentioned a specific food memory to […]