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Collection Rhode Island Folklife Project Collection

About this Collection

The Rhode Island Folklife Project collection resulted from a field survey project of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, conducted in cooperation with the Rhode Island Heritage Commission, the Rhode Island Council on the Arts, and the Rhode Island Historical Society from July 15 to December 31, 1979.

The collection consists of approximately six linear feet of manuscripts and ephemera, 200 sound recordings, and 17,000 photographs which document the ethnic, regional, and occupational traditions of Rhode Island, especially ethnic arts (African American, French Canadian, Greek, Irish, Jamaican, Polish, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Italian, Lithuanian, Narragansett, and others), maritime activities, material culture, and local history.

Documentation was created by fieldworkers working for the American Folklife Center: Peter Bartis, Michael E. Bell, Thomas A. Burns, Carl Fleischhauer, Henry Horenstein, Geraldine Niva Johnson, and Kenneth S. Goldstein, project director. Sound recordings include interviews and documentation of a play, church services, music and dance, and other events. Photographs include subjects such as Rhode Island houses, barns, beaches, yards, gardens, orchards, churches, cemeteries, street scenes, landscapes, seascapes, and religious processions. Many photos highlight occupational culture, including photos of textile mills, sawmills, markets, restaurants, Jamaican migrant workers, woodworking, boatbuilding, fishing, clamming, gunsmithing, and taxidermy. Others feature recreational subjects, including baseball, horseshoes, sailing, picnics, arts and crafts, sand sculptures, music, and dance.

This online presentation includes the majority of the sound recordings and photographs in this collection. Selected manuscripts include those materials created by the fieldworkers, such as audio and photo logs, field notes, and final reports. The remainder of the collection is available in the Folklife Reading Room at the Library of Congress. A finding aid to the entire collection is also available online.

The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people. Through its website, the Library offers broad public access to a wide range of information, including historical materials that may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes. Such materials must be viewed in the context of the relevant time period. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in such materials. The events documented here are the personal recollections and perspectives of participating individuals; they are recordings of people’s own stories and not necessarily the truth.