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The American Folklife Center was created in 1976 by the U.S. Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, publication, and training. The Center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Music Division of the Library of Congress in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Jane Beck, Vice-chair, Vermont
Norma Cantú, Texas
Kojo Nnamdi, District of Columbia
Tom Rankin, North Carolina
Daniel Botkin, California
Penn Fix, Washington
Mickey Hart, California
Dennis Holub, South Dakota
William L. Kinney Jr., South Carolina
Judith McCulloh, Illinois
Marlene Meyerson, New Mexico
Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Massachusetts
Cynthia Church, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs
Fran Mainella, Director, National Park Service
Sonya E. Medina, Deputy Director of Projects, Office of the First Lady, The White House
David W. Anderson, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior
Ex Officio Members
James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress
Lawrence M. Small, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Dana Gioia, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Bruce Cole, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities
Michael Owen Jones, President, American Folklore Society
Timothy Rice, President, Society for Ethnomusicology
Peggy A. Bulger, Director, American Folklife Center
ONLINE INFORMATION RESOURCES
The American Folklife Center's Web site provides full texts of many AFC publications, information about AFC projects, multimedia presentations of selected collections, links to Web resources on ethnography, and announcements of upcoming events. The address for the home page is http://www.loc.gov/folklife/. An index of the site contents is available at http://www.loc.gov/folklife/az-index.html.
The Web site for The Veterans History Project provides an overview of the project, an online "kit" for participants recording oral histories of veterans, and a brief presentation of some examples of video- and audio-recordings of veterans' stories. The address is http://www.loc.gov/vets.
The Folkline Information Service is a cooperative announcement program of the American Folklore Society and the American Folklife Center. It is available only on the American Folklore Society's server: www.afsnet.org. The service provides timely information on the field of folklore and folklife, including training and professional opportunities, and news items of national interest.
FOLKLIFE CENTER NEWS
Todd Harvey, Ann Hoog, and David A. Taylor, Acting Editors
Sheryle Shears, Designer
Peggy Pixley, Production
Folklife Center News publishes articles on the programs and activities of the American Folklife Center, as well as other articles on traditional expressive culture. It is available free of charge from the Library of Congress, American Folklife Center, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20540-4610. Folklife Center News does not publish announcements from other institutions or reviews of books from publishers other than the Library of Congress. Readers who would like to comment on Center activities or newsletter articles may address their remarks to the editor.
Peggy A. Bulger, Director
Doris Craig, Administrative Assistant
Gene Berry, Assistant to the Director
Michael Taft, Head, Archive of Folk Culture
Acquisitions and Programs
David A. Taylor, Coordinator
Research and Programs
Ilana Harlow, Folklife Specialist
Guha Shankar, Folklife Specialist
Processing and Cataloging
Sarah Bradley-Leighton, Processing Technician
Catherine Hiebert Kerst, Archivist
Maggie Kruesi, Cataloger
Judy Ng, Processing Technician
Valda Morris, Processing Technician
Marcia Segal, Processing Technician
Nora Yeh, Archivist, Coordinator
Theadocia Austen, Coordinator
Andrew Wallace, Coordinator
Jennifer A. Cutting, Folklife Specialist
Judith A. Gray, Folklife Specialist, Coordinator
Stephanie A. Hall, Automation Specialist
Todd Harvey, Folklife Specialist
Ann Hoog, Folklife Specialist
Matthew Barton, Audio Engineer
Jonathan Gold, Audio Technician
John Barton, Specialist
Myron Briggs, Specialist
Tel: 202 707-5510
Fax: 202 707-2076
Veterans History Project
Diane Kresh, Director
Peter T. Bartis, Senior Program Officer
Anneliesa Clump Behrend, Public Affairs Officer
Rachel Mears, Processing Technician
Sarah Rouse, Senior Program Officer
Timothy Schurtter, Program Officer
Eileen Simon, Archivist
Taru Spiegel, Program Officer
Cover Photograph: Nathan Hicks of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, holds his hand-made dulcimer,
(Herbert Halpert Collection. Photo by Herbert Halpert)
By David A. Taylor
The Library of Congress has released a handsome new publication, American Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide. This eighty-four page, profusely illustrated work provides researchers with an appealing introduction to the extensive collections of the American Folklife Center's Archive of Folk Culture, the leading American repository of documentary materials related to the traditional culture of the United States and other countries and regions of the world. The principal author of the Guide is James B. Hardin, who recently retired as the Center's editor. (See related article in this issue.) In addition to the main text, which was written by Hardin, there is a Foreword by Peggy A. Bulger, the Center's director, and a Preface by Hardin. The Guide is part of a series of Library of Congress publications that describe the collections of the various divisions of the Library, such as the Geography and Map Division, the Manuscript Division, the Music Division, the Prints and Photographs Division, the Rare Book Division, and others.
Because of the size and complexity of the American Folklife Center's archival collections, describing them in a succinct manner is not an easy task. The Guide provides a fine overview that illuminates the basic subject categories into which the documentary materials fall, and calls attention to some gems of the collection, many of which are internationally famous. However, it is not a comprehensive inventory of the three-million item collection. This would call for a much more extensive publication.
One of the initial sections of the Guide, titled "A National Project with Many Workers," provides the context for the acquisition and preservation of all the collections within the Archive of Folk Culture. It offers an enlightening history of the Archive, from its founding in 1928, with Robert Winslow Gordon as the head of the Archive of American Folk-song (as it was then known), to its further growth through the efforts of John A. Lomax and his son, Alan, and its continued development, under the direction of a variety of leaders, up to the present day. In addition, the Guide discusses the important role played by numerous folklorists and others who documented traditional music and other cultural expressions in the field and contributed their documentary materials to the Archive. In addition to Gordon and the Lomaxes, among the many prominent collectors who significantly enhanced the Archive's collections during its early decades are William Fenton, Helen Hartness Flanders, Herbert Halpert, Melville Herskovits, Zora Neale Hurston, Eloise Hubbard Linscott, Vance Randolph, Robert Sonkin, and Charles Todd.
As the history of the Archive unfolds, the reader learns about the introduction and gradual improvement of sound recording devices used in the field; the broadening o f folklorists' interests beyond folksong and narrative; the establishment of the American Folklife Center in 1976; as well as the subsequent creation of extensive new documentary collections that resulted from the Center's numerous multidisciplinary field research projects that were conducted throughout the United States. The Guide also describes the growth of the Archive's collections through other special projects and programs of the Center, such as the Federal Cylinder Project (which consolidated and preserved an enormous quantity of early wax-cylinder recordings of American Indian music and spoken word), the Center 's annual Neptune Plaza concert series, and the Veterans History Project. (A preliminary version of this section was published in the Spring 2003 issue of Folklife Center News.)
The next sections of the Guide discuss the Archive's holdings relative to five large subject categories: folk music and song, story and other narrative forms, dance, material culture, and community life and celebration. Each of these sections outlines many collections of value to researchers interested in these areas. These range from famous collections, such as the recordings of traditional music made in the South by the Lomaxes, to less well-known but equally valuable collections, such as the Robert W. Gordon songster collection, the Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection, the Brazilian chapbook collection, and the Lowell (Massachusetts) Folklife Project Collection, to name but a few.
A striking feature of the publication is the wealth of photographs it contains, all drawn from the Archive's collections. There are eighty-eight color and black-and-white photographs in all, representing only a small portion of the tens of thousands of images in the Archive. These eighty-eight images, which were carefully selected to complement the text, show such things as folklorists at work in the field, musicians and other tradition bearers, vernacular architecture and other forms of traditional culture, and community celebrations.
One feature of the Guide which makes it unique among the Library of Congress's illustrated guides is the inclusion of a CD recording containing music and spoken word from the Archive. It was produced by staff member Jennifer Cutting, with assistance from colleagues Judith Gray, Todd Harvey, Ann Hoog, and Michael Taft. The thirty-six selections on the CD provide an excellent sampling of the Archive's vast number of recordings. The cuts, many of which have never been previously released, include: sea shanties collected in California in the 1920s; anthropologist Jesse Walter Fewkes talking into the new Edison cylinder-recording machine in order to demonstrate its capabilities to a Passamaquoddy Indian man, ca. 1891; "Shove It On Over," sung by Zora Neale Hurston, in 1939; a Bambara dance song recorded in Burkina Faso in 1949; "Jesus Leads Me All the Way," sung in the Gullah style by the congregation of the Zion Methodist Church, John's Island, Georgia, in 1970; "Tom Dooley," sung by Frank Proffitt, Sr., of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, in 1940; the game song "Hijo, hijo, mira esta muher" sung by Hispanic children, in San Antonio, Texas, in 1934; "Figure Eight," square-dance music and call performed at a California migrant-workers' camp, in 1940; an excerpt from an interview with retired garment worker Rose Vecchierella, of Paterson, New Jersey, recorded in 1994; the tune "Tabah Gari," performed by a gamelan ensemble, in Bali, in 1941; "The Heifer Hide," a jack tale told by North Carolina storyteller Ray Hicks, in 1990; an excerpt from a 1981 interview with rancher Les Stewart of Paradise Valley, Nevada; the "Grand Entry Song" performed at the Omaha Indian powwow, at Macy, Nebraska, in 1983; and an excerpt from an interview with a Korean War veteran, J.G. Webb, of Chicago, recorded in 2003.
Copies of American Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide, with CD sampler, are available from the Library's sales shop (credit card orders taken at 888 892-3557 or from the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; fax 202 512-2250. The price is $18.
Alma Hemmings (left) and folklorist Geraldine Johnson hold a "crazy quilt" from about 1948, at Mrs. Hemmings's house in Dobson, Surrey County, North Carolina, September 1978. (Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project. Photo by Lyntha Eiler)
Holy Week procession staged in Lowell, Massachusetts, April 1, 1988. (Lowell Folklife Project Collection. Photo by John Lueders-Booth)
Mexican girls Josephine Gonzalez (probably at center), Aurora Gonzalez, Pearl Manchaco, Lia Trujillo, and Adela Flores sing "El Periquito" for John A. and Alan Lomax, San Antonio,Texas, 1934. (Prints and Photographs Division. Photo by Alan Lomax)
Folklorist Beverly Robinson (right) with Jessie Lee Smith, on the porch of her home,Tifton, Georgia, August 1977 (South-Central Georgia Folklife Project Collection. Photo by Carl Fleischhauer)
By Michael Taft
A project to produce an ethnographic thesaurus (ET) has formally begun with the recent hiring of a four-person staff. The project's goal is to develop a standard terminology for the fields of folklore and ethnomusicology.
The ET will gather the wide array of terms used by those in the field of ethnography, and coordinate them in the "broader- term, narrower-term, and related-term" matrix of a thesaurus. This resource will include both preferred terms and non-preferred terms (for example, the preferred term for fairy tale is Märchen), scope notes to define the terms, and sources for preferred terms, with the aim of establishing a standard vocabulary. Ultimately, the ET will allow indexers, catalogers, and others who must describe ethnographic materials to use the same set of descriptors in their work.
The project, which will run for three years, has the following staff:
David Batty, Lexicographer. David Batty is president of CDB Enterprises, Inc., an information- science consulting company, and he is a fellow of the Library Association of Great Britain. His previous academic appointments include ones in the library programs at the University of Maryland, Catholic University of America, and McGill University, as well as in the College of Librarianship in Wales and the Birmingham School of Librarianship. He has had extensive experience in thesaurus work, including his work as the principal investigator for the Transportation Research Thesaurus, and as consultant to the Art and Architecture Thesaurus.
Kristin Cooper Rainey, Database Manager. Kristin Cooper Rainey is director of the Madbury, New Hampshire, Public Library. She holds an MS in library and information science from Simmons College, and an MS in sociolinguistics from Georgetown University. Her previous experience in database work includes positions as category manager for mySimon.com and marketing specialist for Veritas Software Corporation.
Jill Ann Johnson, Subject Specialist. Jill Johnson holds a BA and MA in ethnomusicology from the University of Washington, and she is a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology in the same program. She has taught folk music and popular song courses at the University of Washington. She has conducted fieldwork in Serbia on genres related to the winter solstice ritual, and read several papers on her research at academic conferences. She is a festival reviewer for Seattle's Ethnic Heritage Council, and has been the exhibit manager for Northwest Folklife. Her previous experience in ethnographic information retrieval includes work as editorial manager for the Smithsonian Institution's Global Sound Project; researcher, writer, and cataloger for the Experience Music Project; and audio acquisitions specialist and content editor for Microsoft Corporation's Encarta.
Camilla Mortensen, Subject Specialist. Camilla Mortensen earned a BA in folklore studies from the New College of Florida, and an MA in folklore and mythology from UCLA. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Oregon, where she worked on narrative and ethnography, Caribbean literature and religion, and Danish literature. Her dissertation was a comparative analysis of women's narratives of healing. She was the bibliographer for the U.C.L.A. Folk Medicine Project, and the archivist for UCLA's Wayland Hand Library. She is currently a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, teaching comparative literature and folklore courses, and has previously taught in those two areas at the University of Oregon. She has given over 20 scholarly papers and has written a number of publications, including several encyclopedia entries on folklore topics.
While the staff will do most of the work on the project, they will be aided by Cathy Kerst and Michael Taft. In addition, an editorial board will oversee the project, and add its own expertise to that of the ET staff. This board includes: Suzanne Flandreau, of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College of Chicago; Maggie Kruesi, of the AFC; Robert Leopold, of the Smithsonian Institution's Department of Anthropology; Kara Lewis, of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian; Marsha Maguire, of the University of Washington Library; Ellen McHale, of the New York Folklore Society; Laurel Sercombe, of the University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives; Moira Smith, of the Indiana University Library; Stephanie Smith, of the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage; and Peggy Yocom, of the English Department at George Mason University. Tim Lloyd, Executive Director of the American Folklore Society, is an ex officio member of the board and the administrator of a $484,000 grant awarded to the project by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (see Folklife Center News, Winter 2004, p. 15).
As the project progresses, the staff and board will also be soliciting suggestions from the wider community of folklorists, ethnomusicologists, and other ethnographers. Through a comment box on the ET's website (currently under construction), the project will receive suggestions for terms, relationships between terms, and criticisms of the work already accomplished. While the project will end in three years, the ET will never be completed; rather, it will continue to evolve over time as perceptions of ethnography change. The AFC and the American Folklore Society will continue to oversee the future development of this resource.
Members of the Ethnographic Thesaurus team (left to right): Michael Taft, co-chair of the ET board; Catherine Hiebert Kerst, co-chair of the ET board; Kristin Cooper Rainey, ET database manager; Jill Johnson, ET subject specialist; Tim Lloyd, executive director of the American Folklore Society; David Batty, ET lexicographer; and Camilla Mortensen, ET subject specialist (American Folklife Center photo)
By Gene Berry
Dr. Daniel Botkin's gift of $10,000 to the American Folklife Center to establish The Jane O'Brien Fund in honor of his late wife was accepted by Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington on behalf of the Library, on July 15, 2004. The fund will support the American Folklife Center's mission to "preserve and present American folklife" in its myriad forms.
Jane O'Brien had a longstanding interest in oral history, particularly the history of women working during World War II, and spent the last week of her life interviewing her aunts in Hawaii in order to record their stories of that time. The initial gift by Daniel Botkin, and additional gifts by friends, relatives, and other supporters of the American Folklife Center, will honor her memory as well as the work she cared about deeply.
The first $10,000 of this fund will be used to defray professional fees, travel expenses, and recording-facility or equipment fees related to selected Veterans History Project interviews conducted by VHP staff and professional oral historians. Additional funds contributed may be used for this purpose, but may also be used to promote educational and cultural activities, including conferences, lectures and lecture series, visiting scholar/library personnel exchanges, internships, exhibits, publications, special events, and outreach activities of the American Folklife Center.
Daniel Botkin, a recently appointed member of the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center, is the son of Benjamin A. Botkin, head of the Archive of American Folksong during World War II (1942-45). Benjamin A. Botkin, a pioneer of public sector folklore, extended folklore and folklife beyond the walls of academe. His approach to American folklore sought to introduce to the general public the traditions of the nation's different regions, races, and classes, and show the interrelationships between folk, popular, and high culture. The Veterans History Project, by its very existence, as well as Jane O'Brien's contribution to this effort, perpetuates his experiment in cultural representation and the role of folklore and the folklorist in American culture.
Contributions to this fund should be made payable to the American Folklife Center, with "The Jane O'Brien Fund" (G 50310) written on the comments line. Donations are tax deductible.
By Michael Taft
The Archive of Folk Culture contains several collections from folklorist Herbert Halpert (1911-2000), including over four hundred discs from his Southern States fieldwork and close to fifty discs of folklore that Halpert collected in New York City. These collections from 1939 were among Halpert's earliest work, but he went on to a distinguished career in folklore that spanned the next six decades (see Folklife Center News, Spring 2000, pp. 20-21). Halpert's wife, Violette Maloney Halpert, has donated to the Archive a valuable collection of Halpert's work from the late 1930s to the 1950s.
In 1963 this material went with the Halperts when they moved to St. John's, Newfoundland. There, Halpert established a folklore department and the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA). Since Halpert's death in 2000, Mrs. Halpert has looked after her husband's collection of papers and photographs from his years of fieldwork and teaching in the United States. In addition to holding all of Halpert's Canadian fieldwork, MUNFLA has kept many of his early disc field recordings of American folklore. Mrs. Halpert and MUNFLA have now sent all of this material to the AFC with the understanding that the original discs will be returned to Newfoundland after they have been digitally preserved in the Archive of Folk Culture.
The collection comprises sixteen boxes of materials, including the following contents:
This material, together with Halpert's other collections at AFC, and the holdings at the Archive of Traditional Music at Indiana University, now account for virtually all of Halpert's work in the United States. Thanks to Mrs. Halpert's donation, and her diligence in maintaining and annotating this collection, as well as MUNFLA's gracious loan of the recordings, the AFC's holdings of Halpert's work have been immeasurably enhanced.
Singer George Edwards (left) with Mrs. and Mr. Charles [Seeley], Catskills, New York, c.1941 (Herbert Halpert Collection. Photo by Herbert Halpert)
By Ilana Harlow
The first recipient of an award from the American Folklife Center's
Henry Reed Fund for Folk Artists is Appalachian ballad singer Elizabeth
a teenage tradition-bearer from Rural Retreat, Virginia. The Henry
Reed Fund was established to benefit folk artists and to honor master
Sixteen-year-old LaPrelle has been singing at fiddlers' conventions and other traditional musical gatherings since 1999. That year, at age eleven, she was awarded second place in the Junior Folk Song competition at the Mt. Airy (Virginia) Fiddlers' Convention. She earned the same honor for the next two years. First place in that competition was awarded to her in 2002 and 2003. In 2003 she was also awarded third place in the Adult Folk Song Competition, and second place in the Youth Competition, at the Elk Creek (Virginia) Fiddlers' Convention.
LaPrelle used the monies to help finance her travels to music gatherings during the summer of 2004. This allowed her not only to perform and compete, but also to be surrounded by older singers from whom she can learn traditional songs, style, and aesthetics.
Those who have heard LaPrelle sing say her voice is remarkably powerful. Jon Lohman, Director of the Virginia Folklife Program, at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, has said that her singing has a "chilling effect . . . a sense that while she may not have ‘lived' it she certainly feels it." Listeners have also noted her grasp of traditional aesthetics, and a true passion for the music. AFC staff were able to witness this passion first hand when she visited the Archive of Folk Culture with her mother and sister one day in June. They spent hours poring over ballad books, often reading or singing songs to each other.
" Elizabeth attends to these time-honored ballads with a level of comfort and conviction rarely found these days, let alone by someone of such a young age," says Lohman. "Elizabeth, it seems to me, is more than simply an ‘interpreter ' of this genre. One gets the feeling, upon hearing her, that she is accessing those aspects of these songs that transcend place and historical time, and speak directly to the heart, capturing the essence of these timeless ballads."
The Henry Reed Fund was conceived by former head of the Archive of Folk Song and founding director of the AFC, Alan Jabbour, upon his retirement in 1999. Reed and Jabbour met in Virginia in the late 1960s while working together to document Reed's expansive repertoire. The legendary Reed was also Jabbour 's mentor and taught him many tunes on the fiddle before passing away in 1968 at the age of 84. More information about the Henry Reed Fund is available on the Center 's Website at http://www.loc.gov/ folklife/interns.html#reed.
Henry Reed Award winner Elizabeth LaPrelle (center) with Kate LaPrelle (left) and Sandy LaPrelle (right). Photo by Ann Hoog
By Ann Hoog
The American Folklife Center has available at all times of the year a limited number of volunteer internships through which individuals may work with the collections in the Archive of Folk Culture. The summer is a time when many students wish to use their breaks from school as a chance to explore possible career interests and to work with the unique collections housed in the Archive. An attempt is always made to match internship projects with the special interests and skills of each intern. This past summer the Center was pleased to have had five students, representing a variety of backgrounds and interests, work on a number of archival projects.
Anthony Potoczniak is a PhD candidate at Rice University, in Houston, Texas, where he is studying the development of sound archives in Eastern Europe, specifically its relationship to issues of defining national identity in the post-Soviet era. He holds a master's degree in ethnomusicology from the Mykola Lysenko State Higher Music Institute (Lviv, Ukraine), and while there, worked at the Laboratory of Music Ethnology, an archive that houses the largest collection of recorded folk music from Western Ukraine. His knowledge of the Ukrainian language and folk music traditions led to his desire to work with the Center's Ukrainian Cylinder Project Collection. This collection resulted from a collaborative audio-duplication project undertaken by the Center and the Ryl's'kyi Institute of Art, Folklore, and Ethnology (Kiev) conducted in the mid-1990s. It is primarily made up of approximately four hundred wax-cylinder recordings of blind Ukrainian village minstrels recorded from 1908 through the 1930s and preservation and listening copies of those recordings. Anthony has arranged and rehoused the manuscript and photographic materials in the collection, creating and editing logs of the recordings, and compiling a guide to the collection.
Caitlin Miller is a junior at Colby College, in Waterville, Maine, where she is majoring in music. Her time in Maine sparked an interest in studying the traditions from Maine represented in the Archive, and she is compiling a finding aid to collections from the state of Maine. Creating a finding aid involves digging through numerous card catalogs and vertical files, searching databases, and then organizing all the data into concise written summaries of each collection. Each finding aid is eventually placed on the Center's website: (http://www.loc.gov/folklife/guides/findaid.html). The Archive's collections from Maine range from Passamaquoddy Indian music and lore to maritime culture to folk songs to fiddle tunes, to reactions to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Sarah Reeder is a senior at The College of William & Mary, in Williamsburg,
Virginia, where she is majoring in American studies. Prior to working at the
Center, she interned at the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife
and Cultural Heritage, and studied the traditional music of Virginia.
Because of her experience
with traditional music, Sarah was most interested in working with
the recently accessioned Alan Lomax Collection. She helped to unpack
index the 452 boxes
of material, and to begin the process of rehousing the manuscripts
in the collection. Elisa Babel is a senior at Merrimack College,
in North Andover, Massachusetts,
where she is a history major. She was previously an intern at the
Historical Society of Frederick County (Maryland). Her interest
in doing an internship
at the Center stemmed from her desire to pursue a career in libraries
or archives. She has been given a variety of assignments that will
give her a taste of the
many types of work involved in maintaining and processing archival
collections. Among other tasks, she helped unpack boxes from the
Alan Lomax Collection,
helped with the maintenance of vertical files and reference books
in the Reading Room, per formed preservation photocopying of collection
material, and created
inventories of AFC publications.
Torri Kellough is pursuing an MA in library and information science at Texas Woman's University, in Houston, Texas. Her major intern project involves preparing the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project Collection for digitization. The collection includes over eight hundred interviews, conducted in the fall of 2001, that document people's reactions to the events of September 11, 2001. Her database and organizational skills have contributed greatly to the presentation of this collection.
2004 summer interns at the Archive of Folk Culture (left to right): Caitlin Miller, Anthony Potoczniak, Elisa Babel, Torri Kellough, and Sarah Reeder. Photo by Ann Hoog
By Todd Harvey
The American Folklife Center participates in the Library of Congress's Junior Fellows Program, which offers a small number of fellowships each year to students enrolled in or just completing undergraduate or graduate academic programs. The fellowships are offered for the summer months, from June through August. Of the eight chosen by the Library this year, two were assigned to work in the American Folklife Center.
Rita Colavincenzo is a recent graduate of University College Dublin,
Ireland, with a graduate degree (Higher Diploma) in Irish folklore.
Rita has a strong
interest in Irish narratives, music, and culture as well as European
and American foodways. She plans to pursue further graduate studies
at Memorial University of Newfoundland. As a Junior Fellow this
summer, Rita is helping to process the International Storytelling
and the Local
Stephanie Schmitz, a native of the Washington, D.C., area, recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree in clarinet performance. During her undergraduate studies, she developed a strong interest in both ethnomusicology and library science. Thus, the work she did this summer at the American Folklife Center, which involved working with several collections, including the Aaron Ziegelman Foundation Collection, matched these interests very well. Stephanie will be starting graduate work in library science at her alma mater in the fall, with an archival assistantship in the Performing Arts Library.
2004 Junior Fellows at the Archive of Folk Culture: Stephanie Schmitz and Rita Colavincenzo. Photo by Ann Hoog
By John Barton and Myron Briggs
The American Folklife Center released a new American Memory online presentation, Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories on January 16, 2003. The collection features audio recordings made of people who had experienced slavery firsthand, providing the unique opportunity to listen to them describe their lives in their own voices. These interviews, which were recorded between 1932 and 1975, capture the recollections of twenty-three identifiable ex-slaves, people born between 1823 and the early 1860s. Several of those interviewed were centenarians, the oldest said to have been 130 at the time of the interview.
The almost seven hours of recordings were made in nine southern states and provide an important glimpse of what life was like for slaves and then newly freed persons. The former slaves discuss such things as: how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, how slaves were coerced, their families, and, of course, freedom. As part of their testimony, several of the ex-slaves sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. The web address of the collection is: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/voices/.
All known recordings of former slaves in the Library of Congress are included in this online collection. Many are being made available to the public for the first time; several others previously available now include updated information and complete transcriptions.
This presentation complements other American Memory collections, most notably Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938, which contains transcripts of over 2,300 interviews with ex-slaves. However, unlike the written transcripts, which sometimes represent collectors' interpretations rather than verbatim reproductions, these recordings present the actual unedited interviews and, therefore, allow the listeners to hear the ex-slaves' voices with their various inflections and regional dialects.
Voices from the Days of Slavery also includes verbatim transcriptions of the recordings. Several had previously been transcribed for the book Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk about Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Freedom, and its accompanying audiocassettes, edited by Ira Berlin, Marc Favreau, and Steven F. Miller (New York: New Press, in association with the Library of Congress, 1998), and some appear, with slight modifications, in this presentation. American Folklife Center staff transcribed the remaining recordings. Recordings that suffer from poor audio quality have gaps in their transcriptions, but even in these cases, the transcriptions are a useful tool for following and understanding the interviews.
In addition to the recordings and transcripts, Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories also includes biographies of many of the interviewers, a special presentation called "Faces and Voices from the Collection," and a "Related Resources" section.
By Anneliesa Clump Behrend
The Library of Congress Veterans History Project was invited by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to participate in a four-day celebration that was held in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall, May 27-30. The National World War II Reunion coincided with ABMC's dedication of the National Wo r l d War II Memorial on Saturday, May 29. The reunion was recognized as the largest-ever gathering of WWII veterans.
During the six months preceding the celebration, VHP staff developed a number of activities and initiatives to honor the World War II generation while educating the public about how to participate in the national effort to collect and to preserve wartime memories. For example, the Veterans History Project Pavilion, an eight-thousand- square-foot tent, hosted more than 30 hours of panel discussions that included stories from prisoners of war to Rosiethe- riveters to Tuskegee airmen. Also, four hundred volunteers, who had been trained by the Library, recorded brief on-thespot interviews with dozens of veterans. An open house was hosted for members of Congress and their constituents. Fourteen Congressional offices participated in the three-day open house at the Library's Whittal Pavilion.
VHP's programming efforts also included a one-hour radio special, "Lest We Forget," that was produced through Public Radio International (PRI) and aired on 130 stations nationwide; and an exhibition, "From the Home Front and the Front Lines," that was created with the Library's Interpretative Programs Office and included in the "American Treasures" exhibition in the Thomas Jefferson Building. "From the Home Front and the Front Lines" will be on display until November 13.
Betty Smith tells her story of serving with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II, while her husband served with the Army Air Corps. A Veterans History Project volunteer records the Smiths' story in the VHP Pavilion. Smith's daughter, Marilyn Smith Rice, also an Army nurse, accompanied Smith to the World War II Reunion. Photo by Michaela McNichol
VHP volunteer Margaret McGinnis interviews Herbert Remer, a Navy veteran from New Rochelle, N.Y. After reciting his serial number, Remer bet that all the other vets present could remember their numbers, too. He then asked five vets at random, and won. He said he had never seen "the country as together as it was during the war." Photo by Michaela McNichol
Diane Kresh, director of the VHP, and student Charlie Pfeifer, right, St. Andrews Episcopal School, interview Robert Flores, left, and Arturo Camacho as NPR reporter Alison McAdams captures the story for a broadcast. Photo by Michaela McNichol
By Ilana Harlow
The Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, has awarded $400,000 for a twoyear project developed by the American Folklife Center in collaboration with the Institute for Cultural Partnerships, the American Society of Human Genetics, and the Genetic Alliance.
The "Healthy Choices Through Family History Awareness Project" aims to increase awareness and understanding of the ways that family history may influence personal health. The project will use an oral history approach to increase the understanding of genetics in underserved communities. By eliciting health-related narratives, researchers hope to uncover potential risk factors that might be overlooked in standard medical histories-- factors that could influence health care decision-making.
"The family history tool will create a way to explore and expand knowledge of one's extended family, with particular attention to health and illness," said American Folklife Center Director Peggy Bulger. "It will assist individuals and families in preserving data on family medical histories in a manner that can provide future generations with relevant family health information."
During the initial phase of the project, which will begin in September, a team of folklorists, applied anthropologists, and genetic-health specialists will work with low-income African American and Latino communities in the Allison Hill area of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to develop and field-test a familyhistory research tool. This effort will be coordinated by the Institute for Cultural Partnerships (ICP), which is based in Harrisburg. ICP has worked with local communities on the cultural dimensions of successful health services. "This is an exciting opportunity to link the knowledge of family stories and traditions to the cutting-edge field of genetic-health research," said ICP director Shalom Staub.
Medical research has made tremendous advances in understanding genetic influences on disease. Common conditions, including alcoholism, certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and schizophrenia, are now increasingly understood in relation to genetic factors. With greater understanding of genetic risk factors, individuals can make changes in lifestyle or medication that reduce the risk for adverse health outcomes. This opportunity is lost, however, on people who are unaware of their family history from a health perspective.
Ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding the collection and storage of genetic information, and the protection of privacy related to the collection of such information, are significant considerations in the design and implementation of this project. The adverse effects of disclosure of increased risk for a serious health problem may have serious implications for employment, insurance, and, in some communities, marriage prospects. The genetic information gathered in this project will be kept totally confidential and will remain in the hands of family members.
The Institute for Cultural Partnerships is a private nonprofit organization whose mission is to help individuals and communities to live, learn and work successfully in an increasingly diverse society. ICP's work creates ways for people to understand their own culture, particularly as a resource for economic, educational, and health concerns; understand others; develop positive intergroup relations; and build strong communities.
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), is the primary professional membership organization for human geneticists in the Americas. The principal objectives of ASHG include providing venues for investigators in human genetics to share their research findings and facilitating interactions between geneticists and their peers in policymaking, industry, education, and advocacy.
The Genetic Alliance is the nation's leading support, education, and advocacy organization for those with genetic conditions. Encompassing more than six hundred disease advocacy groups and professional organizations and representing health care, research, industry, and policy communities, the alliance is the largest worldwide genetics coalition. Its mission is to educate the public about genetics and promote healthy lives.
By David A. Taylor
The Folklife Center 's longtime editor, James B. Hardin, retired from government service on April 30. Jim had worked for the Library of Congress since 1978 and at the Folklife Center since 1987.
The story of Jim's employment at the Library begins on a late-summer afternoon in 1977, when he strolled into the Archive of Folk Song (as the Center's archive was then known) to visit with his college classmate, the late Gerry Parsons, then a reference librarian in the archive. Having recently completed a PhD in American literature, at a time when teaching positions were in short supply, Jim was "considering other career opportunities" (i.e., looking for work). Gerry introduced his old friend to Archive of Folk Song head Joe Hickerson, and then to Sam Brylawski, of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, whose office was in the adjacent room. The visit was strictly social, but Brylawski, by chance, knew of an editorial position in the Library's Publishing Office and promised to send a copy of the vacancy announcement. Jim applied, received a call from the acting director of the Publishing Office in December, and began work in February.
Jim worked as an editor in the Publishing Office for eight years, working mainly with staff of the Manuscript, Rare Book and Special Collections, Geography and Map, and European divisions, as well as the American Folklife Center. During this period, he edited more than sixty books, brochures, and other scholarly publications; was an associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of the Library (1978-83); and founding editor of Folklife Annual (1985-90).
In May of 1987, after a year as editor for the Manuscript Division, Jim moved to the American Folklife Center, where he continued to produce volumes of Folklife Annual and became the managing editor of Folklife Center News. During 1993-94, in addition to his editorial duties, Jim served as acting assistant to the Center 's director, as well as acting production manager for the Publishing Office. Since that time, Jim has been in the thick of the action at the Center. For example, he played an important role in the Center 's successful (and long-sought) permanent authorization by the Congress; helped facilitate the post-authorization expansion of the Center's board of trustees, and helped acclimate the Center 's new director, Peggy Bulger, to bureaucratic life at the Library and in Washington in general; served as the Center 's public information coordinator; assembled the Center's annual reports; and was in charge of the Center's many publications, from liner notes for CDs to guides for fieldworkers to substantial scholarly books.
Throughout his tenure at the Center, Jim has been a highly respected and
well-liked colleague who was known for his dedication, hard work, outstanding
organization, meticulous attention to detail, willingness to pitch in for
the good of the Center, and fine sense of humor. Peggy Bulger remarked, "We
will miss Jim terribly. His presence at the Center was a tremendous asset in
so many ways. You couldn't ask for a better friend and advocate."
At the March meeting of the Center's board of trustees, a resolution was passed that acknowledged Jim's many contributions. As well, the board presented him with an antique gold watch with the engraved inscription: "Jim Hardin in appreciation from the board of AFC 2004." For its part, the Center 's staff held a retirement party for Jim that, among other things, featured the presentation of gifts, including a special spoof edition of Folklife Center News--sort of a "roast"--that was created in his honor.
Before coming to the Library, Jim was an instructor at Le Moyne College, in Syracuse, New York, and at the University of Richmond; a sales representative for the McGraw-Hill Book Company, based in Richmond; and an intelligence coordinator for the Army Intelligence Corps, stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. He grew up in Dutchess County, in New York's Hudson River Valley, and graduated from Colgate University with a BA in English. His PhD is from Syracuse University.
While Jim hasn't announced any particular plans for his retirement years, he has been enjoying travel, singing in choral groups (he's a talented tenor), and getting caught up on his reading.
Jim Hardin (left) receives an antique gold watch from AFC Board of Trustees member Penn Fix. Photo by David A.Taylor
Back Cover Photograph:
The Paschall Brothers, an a capella gospel group from the Tidewater Virginia tradition, perform a noontime Neptune Plaza concert, on June 15, 2004, as part of the "Homegrown: The Music of America" concert series. Jon Lohman, director of the Virginia Folklife Program of the Virginia Commission on the Humanities, was on hand to introduce the group. Photo by Ann Hoog
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March 7, 2011