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Soldier’s Joy: An American Classic

“Soldier’s Joy” is one of our favorite fiddle tunes, and one of the oldest and most widely distributed tunes in the English-speaking world. There are numerous renditions of this piece located throughout Library of Congress collections, many of which are online.  Let’s take a brief tour of this American classic. “Soldier’s Joy”  appeared in late eighteenth-century sheet […]

Computing culture in the AFC Archive

  This week we’re hosting three digital humanities scholars at the American Folklife Center to discuss potential research projects that would draw upon AFC collections. It got me thinking about digital humanities inquiry in developing and understanding the AFC Archives. Across our history, we have embraced new media, explored data- and metric-driven approaches to studying and computing […]

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 […]

St. George and the Data Dragon: A Digital Assets Mumming

St. George and the Data Dragon: A Digital Assets Mumming Performed by American Folklife Center Staff with Guests Script drawn from multiple plays in the James Madison Carpenter Collection. Compiled by Stephen Winick, with additional material by Stephen Winick, Jennifer Cutting, Theadocia Austen, Hope O’Keeffe, and the company. Digital assets jargon courtesy of Bertram Lyons.  […]

Mumming at the American Folklife Center

Every year, in the week before Christmas, staff members of the American Folklife Center put our research and performance skills into play, bringing collections to life in a dramatic performance that tours the halls of the Library of Congress.  Dressed in costumes that range from striking to silly, we sing, act, rhyme, and dance for […]

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 […]