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Experience the Event
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Art, Culture, and Government:
The New Deal at 75

Participant Biographies

Listed in alphabetical order

Beverly Brannan
Beverly Brannan

Beverly Brannan is Curator of twentieth century documentary photography in the Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. With Carl Fleischhauer, she is co-author of Documenting America: FSA-OWI Photographs, 1935-1943 (1989) and the companion traveling exhibition. She is also co-editor of A Kentucky Album: FSA-OWI Photographs, 1935-1943 (1985) and FSA: The American Vision (2007). With Laura Katzman, she co-curated the exhibition A Life in Photography: Louise Rosskam and the Documentary Tradition and they are now collaborating on Rosskam's biography. Brannan has acquired for the Library the personal papers of Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers Jack Delano, Arthur Rothstein, and John Vachon and worked on the digitization of 165,000 FSA/OWI images, as well as the online presentations for handmade photo books by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Jack Delano. She specializes in photojournalism as well. Her most recent project is a Prints and Photographs web guide on Women Photojournalists.

Christopher Breiseth
Christopher N. Breiseth

Christopher N. Breiseth is President of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in Hyde Park, New York, and President Emeritus of Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Prior to his seventeen years at Wilkes, Dr. Breiseth served as president of Deep Springs College in California (1980-83); Professor and Chair of the History Program at Sangamon State University in Springfield, Illinois (1971-1980), and Co-Director and teacher at the Springfield Institute on Interracial Education for teachers and administrators. A scholar of Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Breiseth was also active in the NEH-funded Lincoln Sites Project in the late 1970s, and contributed an essay, "Lincoln, Douglas and Springfield in the 1858 Campaign," to the published collection The Public and the Private Lincoln. Other achievements include a Danforth post-doctoral fellowship in Black Studies at the University of Chicago (1970-71), an assistant professorship of history at Williams College (1964-71), a position as chief of policy guidance in the Community Action Program at the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington, D.C., and a term as President of the Telluride Association (1963-65).

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Charles Camp
Charles Camp
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Charles Camp has a long and distinguished career as a scholar, professor and public sector folklorist. He is the curator of the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, Key Ingredients: America by Food. He is the author of American Foodways: What, When, Why and How We Eat in America (1989) and has published widely on folklore, material culture, food, cultural conservation, symbolic tourism, and baseball. Dr. Camp holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and has a long-standing interest in the New Deal and its impact on American culture.


Robert Clark
Robert Clark

Robert Clark is Supervisory Archivist at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum External link in Hyde Park, New York. He was born and raised in Denton, Texas, and received his B.A. and M.A. History from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He worked as an archivist at the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University until 1991. He then attended law school at Syracuse University, graduating with a Juris Doctor in 1994. Mr. Clark practiced law in New Mexico from 1994 to 2001. He returned to the archival profession in June 2001 when he joined the staff of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library as an Archivist. He was promoted to Supervisory Archivist at the Roosevelt Library in February 2005.

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Beth Cleary
Beth Cleary
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Beth Cleary is Associate Professor and Chair of the Theater and Dance Department, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota. She has an abiding interest in puppetry and performing objects. She wrote her dissertation, and has published numerous articles, on the Bread and Puppet Theatre and has also written extensively on contemporary dance and dance theory. With co-presenter Peter Rachleff, she has team-taught on the arts and the New Deal and pursued an extensive research project on the Buffalo Historical Marionettes. As a theater director with a particular interest in American political work, she has directed numerous works at Macalester College, including: Naomi Wallace's Slaughter City, In the Heart of America, and The Retreating World; Ellen McLaughlin's Tongue of a Bird; Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and her Children; Arthur Miller's All My Sons; Clifford Odets's Waiting for Lefty; Langston Hughes's Limitations of Life; and an original dance-theater adaptation of Meridel LeSeuer's Women on the Breadlines. Recent professional theater work has included dramaturgy for Minneapolis' Frank Theatre and directing a production of David Gow's Cherry Docs at the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company. In addition to teaching playwrighting and directing at Macalester College this spring, she will be directing Cherrie Moraga's Heroes and Saints.

John Y. Cole
John Y. Cole

John Y. Cole, Jr., librarian and historian, is founding and current Director of the Center for the Book and Acting Director of the Publishing Office at the Library of Congress. The Center for the Book was created in 1978 by Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin to use the resources of the Library to stimulate public interest in books and reading. Cole has a Ph.D. in American Civilization (1971) from the George Washington University and has published widely about the history of books, reading, and libraries, as well as the history and role of the Library of Congress. Most recently he co-edited, with Jane Aikin, The Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress: For Congress, the Nation & the World (2004), a 569-page, authoritative reference work. His well-illustrated article in the Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress (1983) described the history of the Library's Federal Arts projects of the 1930s. Three years later, with American Folklife Center Director Alan Jabbour, he represented the Library of Congress in Fort Lauderdale at the Florida Center for the Book's conference, Rediscovering the 1930s: The WPA and the Federal Writers' Project. Through the Center for the Book and with the assistance of the American Folklife Center and other Library of Congress divisions, he was the principal organizer of the Library's two-day 1994 conference, Amassing American Stuff: The Library of Congress's New Deal Arts Collections. He plans to leave his complete set of first editions (with dust jackets) of the state guides produced by the Federal Writers Project to the Library's Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Laura Katzman
Laura Katzman

Laura Katzman is Associate Professor of Art History at James Madison University. From 1995-2007, she was Associate Professor of Art and Director of the Museum Studies Program at Randolph-Macon Women's College. Other teaching posts include a Senior Lecturership in Museum Studies at Smith College and a Guest Professorship at the University of Hamburg. As a Visiting Curator at the Fogg Art Museum, she co-organized a major exhibition on Ben Shahn's photography for the Harvard University Art Museums, which later traveled to the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the Grey Art Gallery in New York City, and the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago. The accompanying book, Ben Shahn's New York: The Photography of Modern Times (Yale, 2000), which she co-authored, won London's Kraszna-Krausz Special Commendation Award for the World's Best Books on Photography. She also co-authored Ben Shahn and the Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti (Rutgers, 2001), and is currently working on A Life in Photography: Louise Rosskam and the Documentary Tradition, which will complement an exhibition at the American University Museum and the Jersey City Museum (2009-10). Katzman is the recipient of grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the J. William Fulbright Commission, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. In 2006-2007 she was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where she pursued her current collaborative book/exhibition project: Picturing Puerto Rico: North American Photographs and the Making of a Modern Commonwealth.

Micahel Kazin
Michael Kazin

Michael Kazin is a professor of history at Georgetown University. His books include A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (2006), America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, with Maurice Isserman, (3rd edition, 2007), The Populist Persuasion: An American History (revised edition, 1998), and Barons of Labor: The San Francisco Building Trades and Union Power in the Progressive Era (1987). He also edited, with Joseph A. McCartin, Americanism: New Perspectives on the History of an Ideal (2006). He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Institution. He is currently working on Big Dreamers: A History of the American Left, and is editor-in-chief of The Princeton Encyclopedia of United States Political History (in progress). He is a regular contributor to The Washington Post, The American Prospect, Dissent, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, and other publications.

Stetson Kennedy
Stetson Kennedy

Stetson Kennedy is a native of Florida. From 1937 to 1942, he headed Florida's Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project, which conducted unprecedented field research that documented traditional stories, songs, occupational culture, and many other aspects of Florida's diverse cultural heritage. The most famous of the folklorists who worked under Kennedy's direction was the celebrated African American novelist and playwright, Zora Neale Hurston. Kennedy's book, Palmetto Country (1942), is a detailed survey of Florida folklife derived from the data he and his Federal Writers' Project colleagues compiled. Kennedy is also known for risking his life to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan during the 1950s, as an undercover agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. His book The Klan Unmasked (1955), tells the story against the backdrop of African American human rights. Another important facet of Kennedy's life is the friendships he forged with prominent writers, philosophers, and folklorists, including Richard Wright, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Marjoie Kinnan Rawlings, Studs Turkel, Alan Lomax, Langston Hughes, Howard Fast, Alice Walker, and Woody Guthrie.

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Catherine Hiebert Kerst
Catherine Hiebert Kerst
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Catherine Hiebert Kerst is a Folklife Specialist/Archivist in the American Folklife Center. She received her Ph.D. through the Folklife Program in the American Studies Department at George Washington University. She joined the American Folklife Center staff in 1989 to work with the WPA California Folk Music Project Collection materials, collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Northern California from 1938-1940. In 1997, this multi-format ethnographic field collection became the first American Folklife Center contribution to the Library's online American Memory Project, under the title California Gold: Northern California Folk Music From the Thirties. In addition to her research on Cowell's New Deal folk music collecting career, Kerst is involved in providing subject access to materials in the Division, working with Center educational initiatives, and helping to create and develop the Ethnographic Thesaurus,External Link a joint scholarly initiative of the Center and the American Folklore Society.

Colleen McDannell
Colleen McDannell

Colleen McDannell is Professor of History and Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. She received her doctorate from Temple University in 1984. Her numerous awards include a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Fulbright Commission's John Adams Chair in American History to teach at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and an Indo-American Fellowship for research on Christian cemeteries in India. Her most recent publications are Picturing Faith: Photography and the Great Depression (Yale University Press, 2004) and an edited book, Catholics in the Movies (Oxford University Press, 2007). As a part of the research for Picturing Faith, she curated a forty-five-photograph exhibition that continues to travel throughout the country. Professor McDannell is also the author of Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America (Yale University Press,1995); Heaven: A History (co-authored with Bernhard Lang; Yale University Press, second edition, 2001); and The Christian Home in Victorian America: 1840-1900 (Indiana University Press, 1986). Her journal articles range from interpretations of Victorian masculinity among Irish-American Catholics to Evangelical home-schooling in contemporary America. She is currently working on a book about the American reception of the Second Vatican Council (Basic Books).

Mindy Morgan
Mindy Morgan

Mindy Morgan is Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and Affiliated Faculty in American Indian Studies, Michigan State University. Her research centers on how indigenous communities within the United State view and use language as a symbol of cultural persistence and tribal identity. She focuses particularly on community beliefs and literacy practices in the early twentieth century, ethnographic research within contemporary indigenous language programs, connections between language use and identity formation, and the impact of federal policy on indigenous language maintenance and transmission. Her book, "The Bearer of this Letter": Language Ideologies and Literacy Practices among the Fort Belknap Communities (University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming), examines how literacy functioned as both a cultural practice and a cultural symbol for the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre communities of Fort Belknap Indian Reservation during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While conducting research for this larger project, she discovered that a number of tribal members had been employed by the Federal Writers' Project in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Her 2005 article, "Constructions and Contestations of the Authoritative Voice: Native American Communities and the Federal Writers' Project, 1935-1941," (American Indian Quarterly, Vol 29:1), draws on this research. She has since expanded this study, exploring how tribal communities participated in the Federal Writers' Program throughout the state of Montana.

Photograph of Peter Rachleff.
Peter Rachleff

Peter Rachleff is Professor of History at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Trained as a labor historian, he has incorporated immigration history, ethnic history and African American history into his research and teaching. In recent years, he has become increasingly interested in critical race theory and performance studies. His publications include Black Labor in Richmond, Virginia, 1865-1890 (University of Illinois Press, 1989) and Hard-Pressed in the Heartland: The Hormel Strike and the Future of the Labor Movement (South End Press, 1993), as well as articles in numerous scholarly collections and journals. He has served on the national board of directors of the Labor and Working Class History Association, and as President of the Working Class Studies Association. At Macalester, where Rachleff has taught since 1982, he is the faculty coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, and he offers courses in labor, immigration, ethnic, and African American history. Rachleff is active in the local and national labor movement and is a frequent commentator on labor issues for local and national media.

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Richard Remsburg
Richard Remsburg speaking at the symposium. Photo by Stephen Winick, March 14, 2008.
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Rich Remsberg is an archival image researcher working mainly on independent films and documentaries for PBS, including the American Masters program on Woody Guthrie. He has also worked on various other projects, including Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison, The Banjo Project, and the Grammy-nominated CD box set, People Take Warning! Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs 1913-1938. His own short film, Jeweler's Eye, premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival, and Common Pictures: A Journey Through the Eyes of Found Photography was an opening act for electronic music duo, The Books, on their spring 2007 tour. He is the author of All I Got Is Gone: Roots Music Photographs From the Great Depression, forthcoming from the University of Illinois Press. Described as "eloquent photography" by the New Yorker, Remsberg's book, Riders for God: The Story of a Christian Motorcycle Gang (2000), has found an audience from Harvard University to the Texas prison system. As a photographer, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek.com, The Christian Science Monitor, and No Depression. He has served on the faculty of the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center Field School and received several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in North Adams, Massachusetts where he holds an informal series of vintage 8mm and 16mm films on Tuesday nights (see www.atlasfilms.org External link for further information).

 Henry Sapoznik
Henry Sapoznik

Henry Sapoznik is a record producer with four Grammy nominations, a radio documentarian, an author, and a performer of traditional Yiddish and American music. He received a 2002 Peabody award for his ten-week National Public Radio series on the history of Jewish broadcasting, The Yiddish Radio Project, the 2000 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Music Scholarship for his book Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to Our World, and an Emmy nomination for his score to the documentary film, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. He founded the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, as well as Living Traditions' annual KlezKamp: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program. In addition to his pioneering efforts in klezmer music, Saponzik studied banjo with old-time master Tommy Jarrell. His more than thirty-five recordings include a three CD anthology on country music legend Charlie Poole, which was nominated for a 2005 Grammy, and the anthology People Take Warning! Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs 1913-1938, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2007.

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Photograph of John Edgar Tidwell.
John Edgar Tidwell
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John Edgar Tidwell is is Associate Professor of English at the University of Kansas. He has researched and written extensively on Sterling A. Brown, Frank Marshall Davis, Langston Hughes, African American poetry and literature, and the Harlem Renaissance. His many awards for research scholarship and teaching include fellowships from National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, Harvard University, and Yale University. Publications include A Negro Looks at the South by Sterling A. Brown (with Mark Sanders; Oxford University Press, 2007), Montage of a Dream: The Art and Life of Langston Hughes (Missouri Press, 2007), Writings of Frank Marshall Davis, A Voice of the Black Press (2007), Livin' the Blues: Memoirs of a Black Journalist and Poet (1992), and After Winter: Selected Writings on the Art and Life of Sterling A. Brown (with Steven Tracy; Oxford University Press, forthcoming, January 2009).

 

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