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Legends and Legacies:
An American Folklife Center Celebration of Public Folklore

September 10-11, 2009
Thomas Jefferson Building
Library of Congress
Washington, DC

Archie Green Image
Archie Green wearing his Living Legend Award. Photo by Derek Green, August, 2007.

On September 10-11, 2009, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress hosted a two-day event including a tribute, a symposium, and a concert, honoring folklorists Archie Green and Joe Wilson, and celebrating the acquisition of the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) Collection by the Center's archive. The multifaceted event featured spoken tributes, musical performances, panel discussions, and rare glimpses of archival treasures. It was crowned by a magnificent evening concert in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium. The concert showcased outstanding folk musicians who have been part of the NCTA by participating in the National Folk Festival and NCTA touring programs.

Joseph T. Wilson
Joseph T. Wilson, recipiant of the Library of Congress Living Legend Award. Photo by Megan Halsband, September 10, 2009.

The event's first day of speakers and musical performances celebrated the life and achievements of Archie Green (1917-2009). The second day of presentations discussed the contributions of Joseph T. Wilson, longtime director and current Chairman of NCTA. In addition, the event celebrated the Library's acquisition of the NCTA collection, an unparalleled assemblage of archival recordings of folk music. Founded in 1934, the NCTA created the first National Folk Festival (still being produced annually), and pioneered the national and international touring of grassroots artists. Out of this experience, NCTA has created an archive of original audio and moving image recordings of traditional artists, musicians and dancers dating from the 1930s. The collection contains classic recordings of now-legendary artists (such as Tommy Jarrell, Elizabeth Cotten, Wade Mainer, John Cephas, Edith Butler, and the Blind Boys of Alabama), as well as the only extant recordings of many artists. The NCTA began using professional portable recording equipment to document their festivals and concerts some thirty years before other presenters of folk arts, with the result that the NCTA collection has excellent sound quality. These historic recordings are now being digitized, and many of them are available to researchers in the Folklife Reading Room at the Library of Congress. The American Folklife Center symposium on September 11, 2009, included speakers who have an intimate knowledge of the NCTA collection and provided a rare opportunity for attendees to view and discuss some of the treasures and highlights of this spectacular collection.


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   May 15, 2015
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