About this Collection
The Occupational Folklife Project (OFP) began in 2010 as a multi-year project by the American Folklife Center (AFC) to document the culture of contemporary American workers during an era of economic and social transition. To date, fieldworkers across the United States have recorded more than 600 audio and audiovisual oral history interviews with workers in scores of trades, industries, crafts, and professions. The completed interviews have been incorporated into the American Folklife Center archive at the Library of Congress.
The interviews, which average 50-60 minutes in length, feature workers discussing their current jobs and formative work experiences, reflecting on their training, on-the-job challenges and rewards, aspirations, and occupational communities. In many cases, interviewees were asked to trace the career choices and educational paths that lead them to their present jobs and share their thoughts on the future of their professions.
The Occupational Folklife Project includes field documentation on selected topics created by dozens of researchers or research teams throughout the United States. To honor the memory of folklorist Archie Green (1917-2009), the Archie Green Fellowship program was established at the American Folklife Center in 2010. These fellowships have supported the fieldwork and preliminary processing of most of these Occupational Folklife Project collections. Awards were made with the understanding that the resulting documentation would be deposited in the AFC archive and made available to the public. Priority for recipients of Archie Green Fellowships has been given to fieldworkers documenting professions underrepresented in the AFC archive. See our website for more information about the Archie Green Fellowships. For information about the Occupational Folklife Project collections not yet online please contact the Folklife Reading Room.
The following collections are currently online:
- Hairdresser and Beauty Shop Culture in America: Collection of sound recordings, photographs, interview logs, and transcriptions of oral history interviews documenting the culture and traditions of beauty shop culture in America. Read more. (Go to Hairdresser and Beauty Shop Culture in America collection items.)
- Stable Views: Voices and Stories from the Thoroughbred Racetrack: A collection of oral history interviews with workers employed in the care and training of thoroughbred racehorses, including grooms, exercise riders, horse trainers, hot-walkers, and jockeys recorded at various locations. Read more. (Go to Stable Views: Voices and Stories from the Thoroughbred Racetrack collection items.)
- Western Folklife Center: Gold Mining in Nevada: Collection of audio oral history interviews documenting contemporary gold mining in northern Nevada, and other local occupations, particularly ranching. Read more. (Go to Western Folklife Center collection items.)
- Working the Port of Houston: Collection of audio oral history interviews documenting the diverse culture of workers associated with the Port of Houston, Texas, and the Houston Ship Channel. Read more. (Go to Working the Port of Houston collection items.)