Selections from California Collections
Mary and Hartop Goshtigian performing Armenian and Armeno-Turkish music on the violin and oud, April 17, 1939, collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Fresno, California. Call number AFC 1940/001: P068
California is one of the nation's most complex and multi-faceted states. Originally inhabited by scores of culturally and linguistically distinct Native American groups, it was colonized by the Spanish during the 18th Century. When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, it joined the new republic as Alta California. Following the Mexican-American war (1846-48), the United States took control of the region, and in 1851, it joined the Union as America's 31st State. Geographically, the nation's third-largest state is as varied as its population: its landscapes encompass both the Pacific coast and the Mojave Desert, and stretch from the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains to the agriculturally rich Central Valley.
The following examples from the American Folklife Center's (AFC) extensive holdings include folklife interviews, songs, ballads, instrumental music, and oral histories from various collections documenting California's cultural heritage.
For more information about the American Folklife Center's California collections and services, go to Folklife in Your State: California. For a more complete list of collections, see the finding aid, California Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture.
Some of these recordings are in mp3 or wav format, while others require free media software available from RealPlayer (as noted in the full descriptions).
- Track 1. Ellen Brazill Grant sings a "Konomihu lullaby," Somes Bar, CA, 1926. (Helen Heffron Roberts Collection).
- The Robert Winslow Gordon Collection:
- Track 4. Alberto Mendes performs "Minha mai e pobresinha," 1939. The WPA California Folk Music Project Collection:
- Warde Ford documented by Sidney Robertson Cowell. The WPA California Folk Music Project Collection.
- Track 7. "Camel's Caravan" performed by Aslanian's Armenian Orchestra. The WPA California Folk Music Project Collection, 1939:
- The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection:
- Track 12. "CCC Blues" recorded by Margaret Valiant at the Brawley Migratory Camp, 1939 (Margaret Valiant Southwest and California Recordings Collection).
- Track 13. "Drum Song of Feng-yang." Chinese Songs collected by Rulan Chao Pian and Margaret Speaks, 1943 (Chinese Music Recording Project Collection. Performer unknown).
- Track 14. Selection from the Mrs. Randolph Huntington Miner / Tales of Early Pioneer Life in California Collection.
- Track 15: The Ethnic Broadcasting in America Project – examples from California, 1977-1978 (includes Filipino and Portuguese in the same program, as well as Armenian and Assyrian.
- Track 16. Veteran Manuel Castro Perez recalls WWII experiences for AFC's Veterans History Project, 2003.
- Track 17. "Black Hair," told by Brenda Wong Aoki (International Storytelling Collection).
- Track 18. San Diegan Tony McGee interviews his father, Edward, about segregation experiences for StoryCorps, 2006.
- Californians document themselves in two Local Legacies Projects, 1999-2000:
- Track 21. Kathleen Kuczynski interviews Donna Hedman on her reactions to World Trade Center attacks, November 4, 2001 (September 11, 2001, Documentary Project Collection).
- Track 22. Cantos de mi Cantón:Agustín Lira and Alma and Quetzalz: Chicano Music from California.