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Songs of the Winter Season Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell

There are many examples of songs of the winter season available among the online presentations from the American Folklife Center’s archive, but the largest group of these is found in California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties, a documentary project of the California Work Projects Administration headed by Sidney Robertson Cowell from 1938 […]

Einstein’s Folklore

Albert Einstein, the physicist behind the Theory of General Relativity and other crucial theoretical advances of the 20th century, is often considered one of the greatest scientists of all time.  But did you know that he also liked folklore? At least, he did according to some commentators.  A direct quotation, often attributed to Einstein, runs: […]

The Life and Times of Boll Weevil

The first time I saw Boll Weevil, He was sitting on a cotton square. The next time I saw Boll Weevil, He had his whole family there. This song about the boll weevil is one of many popularized by Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, Woody Guthrie, and other artists. A version of this most widely known […]

Symposium sparks broad discussion of ethnographic archives

In the weeks since The American Folklife Center hosted the Cultural Heritage Archives Symposium at the Library of Congress, we have learned about several collaborations that developed at the event. Fellow panelists are now co-authoring an article, others are creating a consortial grant application, and attendees from the same city who first met at the symposium […]

Buttered Fresh Frozen Lima Beans: Commemorative Holiday Menus in the Veterans History Project

Chow, c-rations, MREs—no matter the form it takes or the name given to it, food is important in military life. Materials within the Veterans History Project (VHP) collections are peppered with culinary references: the monotony of military rations, the ache of hunger when food was scarce, and often the longing and anticipation for home-cooked meals […]

Indigenous American Cylinder Recordings and the American Folklife Center

As November is Native American Heritage Month, it seems a good opportunity to talk about some of the services the American Folklife Center provides for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, and for those who wish to learn more about them. The archival collections of the Library of Congress include the largest body of […]

Bill Stepp, Aaron Copland, and “Bonaparte’s Retreat”

Over the years since its founding in 1928 as the Archive of American Folk Song, the American Folklife Center archive has been explored by a wide range of artists seeking inspiration for their own works.  Through their creations, AFC archival materials have often found their way into popular culture.  From time to time on Folklife […]

The Voices of Civil Rights Project Collection

In addition to my work cataloging new oral histories for the Civil Rights History Project, I am also working on other collections related to the civil rights movement and African American history. One of these collections is the Voices of Civil Rights Project, a nationwide initiative of AARP conducted over the years 2003 to 2005. […]

Michigan-I-O: Alan Lomax and the 1938 Library of Congress Folk-Song Expedition

The following is a guest post by Aimee Hess, Library of Congress Publishing Office, and Todd Harvey, American Folklife Center. The American Folklife Center, in collaboration with the Library of Congress Publishing Office, has recently published Michigan-I-O: Alan Lomax and the 1938 Library of Congress Folk-Song Expedition, a digital publication containing text, images, music, and […]

The Veterans History Project

Within the vast array of recordings housed at the American Folklife Center (everything from sea shanties to slave narratives to street cries), you can also find voices that are a little different from the rest: the narratives of over 90,000 American veterans—all part of the Veterans History Project. Created by Congress in 2000, the Veterans […]