Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

June 28, 1999

House and Senate Leading Effort with Library of Congress to Document America in Local Legacies Program

Working with their members of Congress, Americans in all 50 states and five territories are participating in an unprecedented effort initiated by the Library of Congress to document the cultural heritage of communities throughout the nation. The project, called Local Legacies, is one of the keystones of the Library's Bicentennial celebration in the year 2000 (http://www.loc.gov/bicentennial). Documentation of Local Legacies will be done through the volunteer efforts of individuals, organizations and institutions asked to participate by members of Congress.

"The Local Legacies project celebrates, and shares with the nation, the grassroots creativity of every part of America," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

Through photographs, sound and video recordings, and written records documenting historic and cultural events and traditions that are part of everyday life, Local Legacies will provide a "snapshot of America" at the turn of the century and a valuable resource for future generations. To date, more than 500 Local Legacies projects have been selected by Congressional offices.

In May 2000, all participants and members of Congress will be invited to the Library of Congress to celebrate their cultural and historic contributions to the Library's 200th birthday. The documentation will be permanently housed in the collections of the Library's American Folklife Center and selections will be digitized and shared electronically over the Internet.

Examples of Local Legacies projects throughout the nation include:

Northeast

Celebrating the Merritt Parkway
(Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn)
Opened on June 29, 1938, the Merritt Parkways extends 37.5 miles within the state of Connecticut. Oral histories, photography and other documentation will explore the art, architecture, landscaping, surrounding communities and the building of one of the earliest modern parkways in America.

"Grandma, what was it like?"
(Rep. Donald Sherwood, R-Pa)
Targeted for school-aged audiences, a project in the Lackawanna Valley of northeastern Pennsylvania will present that region's rich industrial era heritage through interviews, photographs and film, plus "living histories" featuring re-enactments, and craft demonstrations.

Hispanic State Parade of New Jersey
(Rep. Robert Menendez, D-NJ)
This parade, held in October since 1976, travels from North Bergen to Union City along Bergenline Avenue--the main street that runs parallel to the Hudson River through many towns. The event features floats that depict each Latin American and South American country, a beauty contest, bands, well-known Latin music celebrities, companies, and elected officials.

Southeast

The Arcadia All Florida Championship Rodeo
(Rep. Charles T. Canaday, R-Fla.)
Florida's rich history in the cattle industry and the ranchers and cowboys who worked them sparked what was to become the oldest rodeo in Arcadia, located in DeSoto County. This Florida legacy was first organized in 1929 to raise money to pay off the local American Legion building.

First Monday
(Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.)
For more than 100 years, Ripley, Miss., has been the site of the First Monday Sale and Trade Days, an opportunity for farmers to trade livestock and produce. Now held on the Saturday before the first Monday of the month, this event attract some 50,000 people across the nation.

National Peanut Festival
(Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala.)
The nation's largest peanut festival has been held each fall in Dothan, Ala., for more than 50 years to celebrate the harvest season. The event, which attracts more than 120,000 guests to Dothan, culminates with the area's largest parade.

Louisiana French Music
(Rep. Chris John, D-La.)
Music indigenous to southwestern Louisiana will be documented using text, sound recordings and photographs of master musicians of years past. The overview will highlight the generational passage of Cajun and Creole music, both of which have influenced many other musical styles including country, blues, soul, R&B, Dixieland jazz, and rockabilly.

Midwest

"Packer Fever"
(Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis.)
Known around the world for baring their chests in below zero weather, drinking malted beverages, and eating arm-sized bratwurst, Green Bay Packers fans will document their devotion to their hometown team -- the nation's only publicly owned football team.

Ravinia Festival
(Rep. John E. Porter, R-Ill.)
With the aim of increasing ridership on the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Railroad, the Ravinia amusement park first opened on August 15, 1904. The Ravinia Festival honors this Illinois legacy which, in its heyday, boasted a baseball diamond, grandstand, electric fountain, theater, dining room, and dance floor, and featured concerts by the New York Symphony, conducted by Juilliard School founder Walter Damrosch.

Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
(Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio)
Ohio boasts one of the premier Irish festivals in the U.S., held annually in Cleveland for 17 years. Through volunteer efforts, this nonprofit festival features the very best in Irish entertainment throughout Ireland, Canada and the U.S. on nine stages and has benefited organizations such as Project Children and the Holy Family Cancer Home.

West

Lamb Day
(Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah)
For about 100 years, the rural community of Fountain Green, Utah, has hosted an annual homecoming celebration known as Lamb Day. Once among the wealthiest communities in the country because of the sheep industry, Fountain Green citizens pay homage to the lamb by dressing in period clothing and re-enacting many traditions centered around lamb production.

Timber and Forests: Postwar to Present: A Humboldt County Local Legacy
(Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif.)
In the northwestern coastal region of California, Humboldt County high school students will photograph and record firsthand accounts of loggers, conservationists and others to illustrate how the conflicting interests of the timber industry and forest preservationists have affected the community.

Salmon: Cycles of Life in Northwest Interior Washington
(Rep. Jack Metcalf, R-Wash.)
Salmon have been at the center of life and labor in Northwest Interior Washington from aboriginal times to the present. Today, salmon, once thought inexhaustible, are at the center of many conservation and harvesting issues. Through historical texts, photographs, oral histories, video clips, and other materials, this project documents the folkways of the region's different ethnic communities (Native Americans, European Americans, and Asian Americans) in relation to salmon.

Southwest

Legacy of the Buffalo Soldier
(Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz.)
The America's Buffalo Soldier's Re-enactors Association, based in Phoenix, is a living legacy of the values of the original Buffalo soldiers: bravery, courage and victory. The Association's mission is to educate and guide today's youth, especially those at-risk, emphasizing these values and putting them into modern context. Documentation will include descriptions and photographs of the new Ft. Powell Military Boarding School, a mentorship program, a summer camp, and a program called Caring Adults Providing Support and Guidance.

National Polka Festival
(Rep. Martin Frost, D-Tex.)
Held annually for 33 years, this festival brings a bit of Old Czechoslovakia to the streets of Ennis, Texas each May. Colorful Czech traditions, religious customs, folk dances, tastes, sights and sounds will be celebrated and documented.

Mid-Atlantic

Roberts, Borders, Mauney, Howell, Briggs and Related Family Reunion
(Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C.)
Held annually on the third weekend in August in North Carolina since 1906, this reunion brings together descendants of African slaves who were brought from Virginia to North Carolina by planters in the early 1770s. Events rotate to different counties where family members live during the three-day reunion.

Sussex County Return Day
(Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.)
Since 1792, voters have gathered in Georgetown, Delaware, the county seat, to learn the election results in a tradition known as Return Day. Every two years on Election Day, winners and losers ride in horse-drawn carriages or march together in a grand parade. The town crier declares the election results and a ceremonial hatchet is buried in a wood and glass box, along with any bitterness from the campaign.

Fasnacht
(Rep. Robert Wise, D-W.Va.)
Since its founding in 1869, the tiny Swiss community of Helvetia, W.Va., has celebrated Fasnacht each February to usher in the Spring season. In the tradition begun in native Switzerland, homes are decorated with scary figures to frighten Old Man Winter and jovial celebrants march through the town in Mardi Gras fashion.

Mountain

Celebrating the Horse
(Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.)
Through still photography and film, a mother and son team from Helena, Mont., will illustrate the rich heritage of the horse in work, transportation, and recreation, as preserved in a variety of traditional events in the state such as the Miles City Bucky Horse Sale, Indian Rodeo, and O-mok-see.

Denver March Pow Wow
(Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Col.)
For 25 years, spectators have witnessed the magnificent pageantry of traditional tribal dances, performed by more than 15,000 American Indian dancers, representing more than 80 tribes at the annual Denver March Pow Wow. From the storyteller's circle, people learn the significance of music and dance in Native American culture, hear legends, legacies, and history of America's indigenous people.

The People, Landscape, and Industries of Idaho
(Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho)
Idaho culture has been shaped by its people (Native Americans, pioneers, Basques, Chinese, Hispanic and recent refugees), its landscape (lakes and glaciers) and its industries (farming, ranching, and modern high tech jobs). In addition to documenting these aspects of Idaho culture, a unique, undisturbed Lewis and Clark Expedition campsite that was recently acquired by the state will be featured.

In May 2000, all participants and members of Congress will be invited to the Library of Congress to celebrate their cultural and historic contributions to the Library's 200th birthday. The documentation will be permanently housed in the collections of the Library's American Folklife Center and selections will be digitized and made available on the Library's Web site at http://www.loc.gov.

Anyone who is interested in participating in the Local Legacies project should contact the Library's Bicentennial Program Office at (202) 707-2000; toll free (800) 707-7145; email: bicentennial@loc.gov.

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PR 99-070
6/28/99
ISSN 0731-3527

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