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American Folklife Center Fortieth Anniversary Celebrations

About | Events | Blogs and Podcasts | Articles and Essays | Collections | Related Resources

About the Anniversary

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (AFC) turns 40 in 2016. To mark the occasion, AFC will sponsor public programs, special events, and other activities throughout the year, celebrating AFC’s role in the preservation and promotion of traditional culture. Join us for concerts of music and dance, scholarly symposia, conference presentations, and lectures at both the national library in Washington, DC, and venues around the country. Stay informed of our ongoing work through our print and digital publications, Facebook page, and RSS feeds, and contribute to the Center's collections by participating in our crowd-sourcing programs and social media platforms. The list of programs and initiatives will expand and grow over the coming months, so check this site regularly to find out what's in the works.


Super Chikan Johnson, guitar player

James "Super Chikan" Johnson, Clarksdale, MS, performs at a Homegrown concert, 2006; AFC2006/028


A range of events will be produced and presented by the American Folklife Center during 2016, sometimes in collaboration with a partner organization.

The AFC Archive Challenge Open Mic
February 17-21, 2016, Kansas City, MO
Folk Alliance International Conference & Camp
(Webcasts coming soon!)

My Tradition - A Photo Sharing Project
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the American Folklife Center and its congressional mandate to “preserve and present American folklife,” we’re inviting people to share photos of their own folklife traditions [read more...]

AFC Directors' Roundtable: A Retrospective of the Center' First Forty Years
May 17, 2016, Mumford Room, Madison Building, Washington, DC; Noon - 1:30 PM
Join AFC director, Betsy Peterson, and former directors of the Center, Alan Jabbour and Peggy Bulger, as they engage in a roundtable discussion about the Center's historical initiatives and programs and its future prospects. The session will be moderated by Cliff Murphy, Director of the Folk & Traditional Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts [map]

Collections, Collaborations & Connections: The American Folklife Center at Forty
September 12-13, 2016, Montpelier Room, Madison Building, Washington, DC
A symposium on innovations and strategies in collecting, curating, and sharing archival materials in the national library and other institutions.

Folklife Concerts
The American Folklife Center's Homegrown concert series presents the very best of traditional music and dance from a variety of folk cultures thriving in the United States. The concerts are free of charge, do not require tickets for admission, and are presented from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Library's historic Coolidge Auditorium or the intimate Whittall Pavilion.

Through the Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series, the American Folklife Center (AFC) presents distinguished experts discussing their research and current issues and best practices in folklore, folklife, ethnomusicology, and related fields.


Alan Lomax and Texas Gladden

Alan Lomax and Texas Gladden,

Blogs & Webcasts

The American Folklife Center Celebrates 40 Years with a Year-Long Series of Events: The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (AFC) turns 40 in 2016. To mark the occasion, AFC will sponsor public programs, special events, and other activities throughout the year, celebrating AFC’s role in the preservation and promotion of traditional culture. “We’re very excited to be passing this milestone in the Center’s history,” said AFC Director Elizabeth Peterson [read more...]

Lomax Challenge Videos Part 2: To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the American Folklife Center, we’re running another challenge at the Folk Alliance International meetings: this time we’ve asked performers to select recordings from the whole range of the archive, not just Lomax’s work [read more...]

Read all blogs related to the 40th anniversary celebrations here

Watch concerts, lectures, and other events held at the Library of Congress.


AFC Field Surveys
Over the course of fifteen years, the Center conducted cultural documentation work in several states and hundreds of local communities across the continental United States. Beginning in Summer 2016, the field documentation from these field surveys will be made available in their entirety to the public. A listing of the projects and the fieldworkers who conducted documentation is now available here.

Lomax Family Collections
In addition to serving as the repository for the Alan Lomax Collection, the American Folklife Center has been associated with the Lomax family since the 1930s. This is a list of more than 120 collections in our archive created by or containing information about the Lomax family (John A. Lomax, Sr.; Ruby Terrill Lomax; John A. Lomax, Jr.; Alan Lomax; and Bess Lomax Hawes) [read more...].

The Lomax Kentucky Recordings
These are documentary sound recordings of rural Kentucky music and lore collected under the auspices of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress between 1933 and 1942. Performed by farmers, laborers, coal miners, preachers, housewives, public officials, soldiers, grandparents, adolescents, and itinerant musicians, they present a full spectrum of traditional expressive culture from twelve of Eastern Kentucky’s mountain counties [website...] (a collaborative project from the AFC, the Association for Cultural Equity, Berea College, and the University of Kentucky)

Articles and Essays

The Changing Field of Folklife
The ways and means of capturing and accessing collections in folklore and folklife have seen much change in the 40 years that the Library’s American Folklife Center has been in existence [read more...]

A Family of Folklorists
The Lomax Family manuscripts, with access to 25,000 pages created primarily by folklorist Alan Lomax during the 1940s and 1950s is now available online. In the coming months over 350,000 pages from the 100 archival collections documenting the work of John A. Lomax Sr., Ruby Terrill Lomax, Alan Lomax, Bess Lomax Hawes and John A. Lomax Jr. will also be made available. Researchers now will have online access to the writings of the Lomax family: the field notes, logs and indexes related to the collections, as well as their correspondence and their academic and creative writing projects [read more...]


Buckaroos, Paradise Valley, Nevada

Buckaroos of the 96 Ranch, Paradise Valley, NV; Paradise Valley Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1991/021)

Related Resources

The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE)
ACE was founded by Alan Lomax to explore and preserve the world's expressive traditions with humanistic commitment and scientific engagement. It remains an active non-profit organization located at the City University of New York’s Hunter College.  ACE’s sound recordings catalog, comprising over 17,400 digital audio files, is available online.


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   September 26, 2018
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