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 home >> about the center >> annual reports >> 2001 annual report

American Folklife Center Annual Report for 2001

Peggy A. Bulger, Director


On January 2, 2001, the American Folklife Center celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary year with a reception for the staff attended by former director Alan Jabbour and the Librarian of Congress, James Billington. The anniversary was noted by the Center's Board of Trustees and figured in its discussions during the two meetings held this year. On October 19-20, 2000, in Durham, North Carolina, and March 1-2, 2001, at the Library of Congress, the Board reviewed the work and accomplishments of the past several years, discussed plans for several major new initiatives, and visited members of Congress to inform them about the Center's programs and projects. Included in the Library's fiscal 2002 budget request is the Center's Folk Heritage Preservation and Access Initiative. The request includes seven new positions for processing and administration; supplies for documentation and preservation; contact services; and travel for the Board of Trustees. In addition, the budget proposal requests funding for the Library's Veterans History Project, which was mandated by the Congress in a bill signed by the president, October 27, 2000 (see below).

Save Our Sounds Recorded Heritage Preservation Project

Based on a year 2000 award from the National Park Service, under the Save America's Treasures Program of the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Center's Save Our Sounds preservation project will restore, preserve, and make accessible endangered sound recordings held by the American Folklife Center and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution. The American Folklife Center has chosen eight of its collections for the project–each valuable in its own right, and each presenting problems of restoration and preservation that will make them models for future operations. They are the James Madison Carpenter Collection; the Eloise Hubbard Linscott Collection; a collection of wire recordings of Pennsylvania Germans made by Don Yoder; the American Dialect Society Collection; the collections of the International Storytelling Center of Jonesborough, Tennessee; tapes from nineteen Zuni narrators from the American West; the Eleanor Dickinson Collection; and the Pearl Harbor "man on the street" interviews from the Radio Research Project Collection.

Among its several aims, Save Our Sounds intends to act as a model, and to help develop an expertise at the American Folklife Center that can then be shared with others. Toward that end, the Center hosted a symposium at the Library, December 1-2, 2000, entitled "Folk Heritage Collections in Crisis," which was co-sponsored by the American Folklore Society and supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the GRAMMY Foundation, and the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences. Discussion topics included access to archival collections, intellectual property rights; and digital audio preservation. CLIR has published a "white paper" based on the symposium proceedings, and the Center has created a Web site that includes the texts of papers prepared by the keynote speakers and the results of a survey conducted to access the state of folklife archives around the country.

The Save Our Sounds Project requires private matching funds to gain access to the federal portion of the grant. The following individuals and corporations have contributed to the project:

Ted Anthony
Dorothy E. Beck
Sheila M. and William C. Benson
Elaine Bradke
Country Dance and Song Society, Inc.
Dance Perspectives Foundation
EMTEC Pro Media
Gerald and Mary Swope Fund
Ross S. Gersten
Grammy Foundation
Judith Gray
Ann Green
IBM Employee Matching Fund
John W. and Clara C. Higgins Foundation
Catherine H. Kerst
Daniel J. Mick
Elizabeth R. Milner
Anne S. O'Donnell
Mark F. Pretzat
Nancy G. Schaub
Kay Kaufman Shelemay
Robert Young Walser
Michael R. and Sharon K. Wildermuth

Veterans History Project

On October 27, 2000, President Clinton signed a bill creating the Veterans History Project (Public Law 106-380), which directs the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to establish a program for preserving the personal experience stories and oral histories of America's war veterans and making those histories available to the public. Ellen McCulloh-Lovell was named director on March 19, 2001, and a staff has been named, including Peter Bartis from the AFC and persons detailed from other divisions of the Library. A Veterans History Project Web site has been put online, with a "project kit" providing instructions and forms for people wishing to collect oral histories from veterans. The site also includes background, status, and contact information. The site address is Informational brochures and stationery have been created, as well as a print version of the instructional "kit" for participants. Over a hundred organizations have agreed to be project partners, from major national organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans, to small groups such as the Red Willow Institute. Some members of Congress have organized state-wide projects.

September 11, 2001, Documentary Project

The Center has launched a project to collect documentation of reactions to the tragic events of September 11, when four hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in New York City, the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia; and a field in rural Pennsylvania. The project is modeled on one created by Alan Lomax following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, when Lomax asked folklorists in ten different localities to make audio recordings of the opinions of ordinary citizens. In an email message posted to Publore, the Center has asked folklorists and other cultural specialists from around the country to conduct audio-taped interviews with citizens about their reactions to September 11, and send their recordings and other documentation to the Library for preservation in the Archive of Folk Culture as the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project Collection.

"Explore Your Community" Poster

The Center has created a community heritage poster for middle and high school students, "Explore Your Community." The poster was designed and printed with an initial grant from the U.S. Department of Education and major support from the Rural School and Community Trust. The back of the poster includes a definition of community heritage, suggestions for projects, and a list of resources on the subject. The poster will be sent free of charge to persons and organizations who have expressed interest, and will be available on request from the Center

The Ethnographic Thesaurus Project

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a Chairman's Grant for $30,000 to the American Folklore Society for the development of an ethno-thesaurus, a project co-sponsored by the Society, the American Folklife Center, and George Mason University that will create a valuable reference tool for the use of folklorists, ethnomusicologists, archivists, librarians, and others. A group of folklorists, librarians, and other interested persons organized to coordinate the project has hired a researcher, who will be based at George Mason University, and formulated a questionnaire regarding the scope and uses of the thesaurus, to be sent to all folklorists, ethnomusicologists, and ethnographic institutions.

National Digital Library Program Presentations

National Digital Library Program Presentations. In October, the Woody Guthrie Manuscript Collection became available as a new online presentation from the Center. The collection includes correspondence between Guthrie and the staff of the Folk Archive written primarily in the 1940s, shortly after Guthrie had moved to New York City and met Alan Lomax, then assistant in charge of the Archive. There are fifty-three items of manuscript material, along with a biographical essay and time-line.


The Larry Wilde Collection. Donated by professional comedian Larry Wilde, of Carmel, California, the collection consists of original sound recordings of interviews with master American comedians discussing their craft. The comedians interviewed include: Woody Allen, Milton Berle, Shelley Berman, Jack Benny, Joey Bishop, George Burns, Johnny Carson, Maurice Chevalier, Phyllis Diller, Jimmy Durante, Dick Gregory, Bob Hope, George Jessel, Jerry Lewis, Danny Thomas, and Ed Wynn.

The Harold C. Conklin Collection. The Center has acquired, through exchange, copies of 262 audio recordings documenting the traditional songs, chants, instrumental music, myths, stories and rituals of the Ifugao people of the Philippines. The recordings were made in the field, between 1955 and 1995, by Conklin, an anthropologist who is an authority on the subject.

The Joel Halpern Collection. Halpern, an anthropologist from Amherst, Massachusetts, has donated additional materials to the collection he previously established. These materials include audiotapes, videotapes, manuscripts and publications concerning the traditional cultures of Serbia, Laos, and the Canadian arctic.

The National Council for Traditional Arts Collection. Using funds provided by the Library, the duplication of the NCTA archival collection has begun. When the work has been completed, the Center will receive original sound and video recordings, preservation and reference copies of them, along with detailed catalogs. The collection comprises audiotapes, videotapes, motion pictures, and manuscripts that document the National Folk Festival from the 1930s to the present. Items in the collection include approximately 2,000 reel-to-reel audiotapes, 1,400 digital audiotapes, and 350 videotapes.

The International Storytelling Center Collection. The Center has received 230 boxes containing the archives of the International Storytelling Center, comprising over 230 audio cassettes, 800 hours of digital audiotape, 700 reel-to-reel tapes, 1,400 video tapes, and 30 linear feet of manuscripts, as well as photographs, administrative records of the Jonesborough, Tennessee, festival, and other material. The Library and the Storytelling Center have launched a cooperative initiative to collect, preserve, and disseminated information about storytelling, and anticipate that the collection will be used for programs and publications.

The Vida Chenoweth Collection. Chenoweth has once again added to her collection by donating a variety of original, ethnographic documentation concerning the traditional cultures of Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Vietnam, including 55 audio cassettes, 11 reel-to-reel tapes, 55 photographs, and 904 manuscripts; as well as a collection of field tapes, reports, photographs, fieldnotes, and musical notation concerning the traditional musics of Indonesia and Cambodia.

Audio Materials 6,217
Manuscripts 443,170
Moving Images 1,200
Pamphlets 410
Photographs 11,300
Posters 30
Machine-Readable Materials 45
Other Print Materials (ephemera) 1,050

Processing and Arrearage Reduction

Processing and Arrearage Reduction. The Center has made good progress in the ongoing effort to process a number of very large and complex collections. Processing activity, including type and level, has been governed by three areas of consideration: arrearage reduction, preservation (in particular for the Save Our Sounds recorded-sound preservation project), and the preparation of collections for online presentation as part of the National Digital Library Program. Currently, fifteen collections are in various stages of processing.

Once again, Library of Congress Junior Fellows, temporary summer employees, and interns have been extremely helpful. Several volunteers from other Library of Congress divisions have worked on collections appropriate to their particular interest and expertise. A donation of $20,000 to the Save Our Sounds project for work on the Eloise Linscott Collection has enabled the Center to hire one full-time temporary. On March 26 and 27, Center staff participated in two days of processing materials from the Local Legacies, an immense collection that will require a number of years to complete.

Folklife Reading Room and Reference

Folklife Reading Room, Reference, and Web Site Development. Informational resources available on the Center's Web site have increased greatly this year, and the Center has developed an online component for nearly every new program and project. Web sites have been developed for the Save Our Sound recorded-heritage preservation project; the Folk Heritage Collections in Crisis symposium; the Veterans History Project, with guidelines for conducting interviews; the folklife-in-education poster "Explore Your Community," with full text of suggested projects and a list of resources; event information for "Living Lore: The Legacy of Benjamin A. Botkin"; and the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project.

A project is underway to correct errors that were made when cylinders from the Frances Densmore Cylinder Collection were transferred to disc in the late 1940s. On February 26, five representatives of Native American communities visited the Library to advise MBRS recording engineer Michael Donaldson regarding the speeds at which the cylinders were played for the transfer. Attending the meeting were: Helma Ward and Theresa Parker (Makah), Angelo Joaquin Jr. (Tohono O'odham), Kevin Locke (Lakota), and Deborah Boykin (Mississippi Choctaw archivist). Donaldson is in the process of making new copies of the recordings at what is being calculated to be speeds more true to the original musical performance.

  Reference Directional
In-Person 1,990 1,528
Telephone Service 1,624 901
Email Service 903 247
Letters, fax 179 70

Print Publications

In consultation with the public relations firm Supon Design, the Center has produced a new informational brochure, for the first time illustrated in full-color. The brochure has been sent to folklorists and folklore agencies around the country, distributed to members of Congress, and used regularly for informational and promotional efforts.

Four issues of Folklife Center News were published this year: The fall 2000 issue, with articles on the Florida WPA project, Brazilian chapbooks, the Robert W. Gordon American Songster Collection, the Indiana field school, and the National Heritage Fellows Collection; the winter 2001 issue, with articles on the Folk Heritage Collections Symposium, the "Save America's Treasures" grant, board member Tom Rankin, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the American Folklife Center; the spring 2001 issue, with articles on Vance Randolph, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Helen Hartness Flanders, WPA collections in the Library of Congress, and Herbert Halpert; and the summer issue, with articles on the International Storytelling Collection, the Densmore cylinder recording speeds, and the Veterans History Project.

Finding Aids printed this year include Finnish and Finnish American Collections, compiled by Maris Jaagosild and Leena Rintala; Cuban and Cuban American Collections, compiled by Kenneth G. Schweitzer and Sarah L. Bryan; Kansas Collections, compiled by Molly J. McCall; and Vietnam War Collections, compiled by Jennifer L. Davis and John C. DeMetrick, with assistance from Andrew T. Urban.

Public Programs

December 1 and 2: the Folk Heritage Collections in Crisis symposium was held at the Library for over a hundred invited participants, to discuss issues relating to preservation, access, and intellectual property rights as they pertain to private and public collections of folklife documentation.

February 27: Kevin Locke, Lakota (Sioux) hoop dancer, storyteller, and player of the Northern Plains flute, performed in the Coolidge Auditorium, an event that was cosponsored by the Music Division.

March 28: Folklife Reading Room researchers Todd Harvey, Mark Jackson, and Stephen Wade spoke about their work at a meeting of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) held in the Pickford Theatre. The program was coordinated by Jennifer Cutting and Kip Lornell, George Washington University professor and president of the Washington, D.C., chapter of ARSC.

May 7: composer and Koto Master Brian Yamakoshi played a concert in the Coolidge Auditorium sponsored by the Center and the Asian Division, part of a program for the Library's 2001 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Yamakoshi performed again on May 9, for a keynote program featuring Norman Y. Mineta, Secretary of Transportation.

June 21: Peggy Bulger and Ellen Lovell, along with the staff of the Veterans History Project (Peter Bartis, Sarah Rouse, Janice Ruth, and Noy Vilaythong) conducted a briefing for Library of Congress staff and others in the Whittall Pavilion. Donald Scott, the Deputy Librarian, spoke of his support for the project; Lovell described what had been done so far and what was planned for the future; and Bartis and Rouse showed documentary materials that have already been submitted for the collection.

September 8: the first National Book Festival was held on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol, as well as in the Madison and Jefferson buildings, sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by First Lady Laura Bush. The AFC sponsored a program of storytelling, dance, and musical performances at the event that included Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer; Alan Chen and the New Arcadia Puppet Troupe; Ron and Natalie Daise; Nilimma Devi; Carmen Deedy; Navajo code talkers Keith Little and Samuel Smith; Sheila Kay Adams and Jim Taylor; Joseph Bruchac; Derek Burrows; and the Pan Masters Steel Orchestra.

Gift and Trust Funds

The Development Committee of the Board of Trustees has proposed the Archie Green Union, an advisory association composed of past and present board members and other persons who have supported the Center. Members will be called upon to advise the Center on matters of policy, congressional relations, and fund-raising.

On January 17, the Parsons Fund Committee held its January meeting and elected Thea Austen the new chair. The committee also voted to offer a year 2001 Parsons Fund award for up to $1,800. In April, the committee met to consider applications for the 2001 Parsons Fund award. Barrett Golding was awarded $1,000 to support the creation of two public radio programs, based on the AFC's collection "Florida Folklife from the WPA," one for National Public Radio and one for Florida stations. Mark Jackson was awarded $400 to support the creation and publication of a CD based on the music and spoken words of John Handcox, a sharecropper and member of the Arkansas-based Southern Tenant Farmers Union in the 1930s, recorded at the Library of Congress in 1937. Nancy-Jean Seigel was awarded $400 to support her work researching, organizing, and adding to the files of the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection in the Archive of Folk Culture. Ms. Seigel is working on a book on Helen Hartness Flanders, who is her grandmother.

On March 19, Peggy Bulger announced the first winner of an award from the Blanton Owen Fund. One thousand dollars was awarded to Prof. Yolanda Hood for her proposal "Only a Child Chews Her Fufu: Constructing, Maintaining, and Negotiating Identities in the U.S. Diasporic Nigerian Communities." Professor Hood will interview members of the Nigerian community living in Atlanta, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina.

Gift and Trust Fund Balances (September 2001)

Fund Title Balance
American Folklife Center Fund $21,421
Save Our Sounds Fund $ 7,357
Elizabeth Hamer Kegan Fund $20,842
Gerald and Corinne Parsons Fund for Ethnography $34,489
Raye Virginia Allen $ 44,420
Blanton Owen Fund for Fieldwork $15,570
Henry Reed Fund $29,084
Friends of the Folk Archive Fund $65,947

Key Personnel Changes

On February 5, Michael Taft began work at the Center as a GS-13 folklife specialist.

On March 19, Ellen Lovell began her new position at the Library as director of the Veterans History Project.

Tom Bramel, team leader for the Center's American Memory Project has accepted a position with ITS, and Robin Fanslow has become the new team leader.

On October 1, 2001, Mary Hufford, took a year's leave of absence in order to accept a position at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia as director of the Center for Folklore and Ethnography.

Rachel Howard has resigned her position as a folklife specialist, with a speciality in digital conversion, in order to move to Seattle, Washington.

Library of Congress Junior Fellows for FY 2001 were John Vallier, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, and T. Christopher Aplin, an M.A. candidate at the University of Oklahoma.


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