skip navigation  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
AFC Logo
The American Folklife Center
Connect with us:   Blog Blog  |  Facebook Facebook  |  Podcasts Podcasts   RSS RSS  | Video Webcasts
 home >> about the enter >> annual reports >> 2005 annual report

American Folklife Center Annual Report for 2005

Peggy A. Bulger, Director

Arrearage Reduction and Processing

During FY05, the American Folklife Center’s (AFC) Archive of Folk Culture had 5 FTEs while the Veterans History Project (VHP) had 8.5 FTEs, to process collections. The Center’s permanent processing staff expanded responsibilities to include not only the physical and intellectual processing of collection materials but also the preparation of manuscript, audio and video holdings for scanning and/or digitization, to be accomplished in-house or by outside vendors and by other LC divisions. In addition, the AFC received the StoryCorps Collection, its first “born-digital” collection. The AFC Collections Manual, an ongoing project, incorporated significant revisions on such issues as acquiring and processing small collections; updating guidelines on titles and subject headings for collections; designing finding aid templates, reviewing, applying and converting collection finding aids using Encoded Archival Description (EAD); and clarifying and reporting arrearage reductions. Other processing improvements included collaborating with the LC Conservation staff on treatment of materials, supplies requests, and the MDEP projects to plan the eventual transfer of collections to Ft. Meade. The VHP continued to report large acquisition numbers as collections were received and items were processed.

Below are two lists of collections which (1) were completely processed and (2) were partially processed during Fiscal Year 2005. Completely processed collections have MARC records in the LC Online Catalog.

1. Completed Processing FY05 (64 Collections):

  • 1995 Neptune Plaza Concert Series Collection AFC 1995/00
  • African Studies Collection AFC 1973/010
  • Alabama State Council on the Arts Collection on Gandy Dancers AFC 1989/004
  • American Folk Blues Festival Photograph Collection, 1962-1965 AFC 2003/050
  • Anthony G. Barrand Concert and Lecture Collection AFC 2003/032
  • Blind Boys of Alabama Concert Collection AFC 2002/012
  • Campbell Brothers and Katie Jackson Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2002/015
  • Carl Lindahl Collection of Tales and Narratives AFC 2003/001
  • Cellicion Traditional Zuni Dancers Concert Collection AFC 2002/021
  • Chang Yu-Cheng Chinese Opera Video Collection AFC 2005/003
  • Charivari Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2003/044 (Judy Ng)
  • Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection - Exhibition Material AFC 1981/004
  • Chinese Rod-Puppetry Performance and Interview Collection AFC 2002/011
  • Chuck Brown Concert Collection AFC 2002/014
  • Chuna McIntyre and the Nunamta Yup’ik Eskimo Dancers Collection AFC 2003/049
  • Coal River Folklife Project AFC 1999/008
  • David Dunaway/Pete Seeger Interviews Collection AFC 2000/019
  • Don Conoscenti Collection AFC 2003/052
  • Eddie Pennington Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2002/010
  • Eleanor Jean Bonar Collection of Songs from Iowa and Kentucky AFC 1971/001
  • Four Masters of Chinese Storytelling Collection AFC 2004/021
  • Ganga Concert Collection AFC 2003/040
  • Gary Le Gallant Collection of “Sugar in the Gourd” Television Programs AFC 2005/002
  • Hâlau o nâ Maolipua: Hawaiian Mele Hula AFC 2003/043
  • Howard T. Glasser Collection of Carnegie Ceilidh and Kingston Ceilidh Ephemera AFC 1970/011
  • Isabel Gordon Carter Collection AFC 2005/004
  • Jacob Evanson Collection of Folksongs for Pittsburgh School Students AFC 1948/007
  • James Madison Carpenter Collection AFC 1972/001
  • Jason Baird Jackson and Victoria Lindsay-Levine Collection of Yuchi Dance Music AFC 2001/009
  • Joe Derrane and Friends Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2003/042
  • Julie McCullough/Folklore Society of Greater Washington Collection AFC 2002/003
  • Karl and the Country Dutchmen Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2002/013
  • Lands’ End All-American Quilt Collection AFC 1997/011
  • Leo Sarkisian and the Voice of America's “Music Time in Africa” / Bitrus Paul Gwamna (Thesis, PhD) AFC 1997/014
  • Les Gilliam Collection AFC 1999/009
  • Lew Green American Banjo Fraternity Collection AFC 1985/021
  • Mariachi Los Amigos Concert Collection AFC 2003/037
  • Marynell Young "Vintage Fiddling in Eastern Kentucky" Collection AFC 1986/007
  • Michael Chyet Lecture AFC 2003/034
  • Mingo Saldivar Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2002/017
  • Minnesota Scandinavian Ensemble and Becky Weis Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2003/045
  • Nancy-Jean Seigel Collection of Helen Hartness Flanders Material AFC 1999/007
  • Old New England Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2002/019
  • Pinetop Perkins Concert Collection AFC 2002/020
  • Rhythms of Flamenco Lecture and Dance Demonstration AFC 2003/035
  • Robert M. Fleck Collection AFC 1977/009
  • Robert Sonkin Alabama and New Jersey Collection AFC 1941/018
  • Robert Turner and the Silver Heart Gospel Singers Concert Collection AFC 2003/046
  • Roberto and Lorenzo Martinez Interview Collection AFC 2003/047
  • Robin Hiteshew Collection AFC 1998/013
  • Sam Eskin Collection AFC 1999/004
  • Santiago Jimenez Concert Collection AFC 2002/016
  • Seldom Scene Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2003/036
  • Selma Jacobson Swedish-American Songbook and Humor Collection AFC 1979/009
  • Sensación Vallenata con Gustavo Nieto Concert Collection AFC 2003/041
  • September 11, 2001, Documentary Project Collection AFC 2001/015
  • Sergei Zhirkevich Photograph Collection AFC 2000/026
  • Svetilen Concert and Lecture Collection AFC 2003/031
  • Tatiana Sarbinska Concert Collection AFC 2003/039
  • Tom Paxton Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2002/016
  • Warner Williams and Jay Summerour Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2003/038
  • Working in Paterson Project Collection AFC 1995/028
  • Wylie and the Wild West Concert and Interview Collection AFC 2003/048
  • YAR International Russian Folk Concert Collection AFC 2000/013

2. Partially Processed FY05 (40 Collections)

  • Aaron Ziegelman Foundation Collection AFC 2003/002
  • Alan Lomax Collection AFC 2004/004
  • Artifacts and Gifts Collection AFC 9999/003
  • Barry Lee Pearson Collection of Rev. O.C. Matthews Recordings AFC 1980/005
  • Black Banjo Songsters, Volume 2 Digitization Project AFC 9999/004
  • Captain Pearl R. Nye Collection AFC 1937/002
  • Don Yoder Collection of Tape Recordings AFC 2003/051
  • Don Yoder Collection of Wire Recordings AFC 1970/004
  • Edward Bell Collection of Ruth Mae Gasper Bell and Margot Mayo Recordings AFC 2004/022
  • Eleanor Dickinson Collection AFC 1970/001
  • Eloise Hubbard Linscott Collection AFC 1942/002
  • Frances Densmore Collection of Visual Materials AFC 1944/002
  • George Korson Collection AFC 2003/011
  • Herbert Halpert Collection AFC 2004/008
  • International Storytelling Collection AFC 2001/008
  • Irish Folklore Commission Wax Cylinder Collection AFC 2004/002
  • Italian Americans in the West Collection AFC 1989/022
  • Jean Thomas Scrapbook Collection AFC 1954/001
  • Jens Lund Ohio River Valley Collection AFC 2004/023
  • Jens Lund Collection of Folklife Center of Ohio Valley Recordings AFC 2004/025
  • Joel M. Halpern Colletion AFC 1998/001
  • Joseph S. Hall Great Smoky Mountains Original Recordings Collection AFC 1987/035
  • Ken Lindsay Collection of Woody Guthrie Correspondence AFC 2005/006
  • Literatura de Cordel Brazilian Chapbook Collection AFC 1970/002
  • Local Legacies Collection AFC 2000/001
  • National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) Collection AFC 2001/019
  • Neil V. Rosenberg Bluegrass Music Collection AFC 2002/009
  • New Mexican Midwinter Masquerades AFC 2005/005
  • Nora Yeh Kemeny Family Collection AFC 2000/018
  • Pete and Toshi Seeger Film Collection AFC 2003/027
  • OzarksWatch Video Magazine Collection AFC 2000/027
  • Sidney Robertson Cowell WPA California Folk Music Project Collection AFC 1940/001
  • Steve Green Collection of Home Disc Recordings AFC 1997/031
  • StoryCorps Collection AFC 2004/001
  • Ted Grame and Kathy Monahan Recordings AFC 2001/031
  • Veteran’s History Project AFC 2001/002
  • Vida Chenoweth Collection AFC 1994/003
  • Voices of Civil Rights Project Collection AFC 2005/013
  • W. Dean Edwards Collection (Fun Finders) AFC 1995/015
  • Zuni Pueblo Storytelling Collection AFC 1996/073

Key Acquisitions

Collection of Woody Guthrie Letters: AFC purchased an important collection of twenty-nine unpublished letters by and to Woody Guthrie (1912-1967), the American writer, singer and composer of hundreds of highly influential “people’s songs,” including “This Land is Your Land.” Guthrie was a seminal figure in the folk music revival of the 1940s and his songs and philosophy have had a profound impact, inspiring countless people, including such contemporary musicians as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Also included in the collection are letters by Marjorie Mazia (Guthrie’s second wife) and Anneke Van Kirk (Guthrie’s third wife). The letters in the collection discuss Guthrie’s work, reveal dramatic circumstances of his personal life and provide rare insight into his remarkable life. Included with some of the letters are song lyrics written by Guthrie. The letters and lyrics complement other Guthrie materials already in AFC collections.

Four Masters of Chinese Storytelling Collection: This collection consists of 360 CDs containing field recordings of traditional storytellers from Yangzhou Shi, China. The recordings were made by Vibeke Børdahl, senior researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen. Børdahl is the leading expert on the subject and is the author of Four Masters of Chinese Storytelling, Eternal Storyteller: Oral Literature in Modern China, and Chinese Storytellers: Life and Art in the Yangzhou Tradition.

Chang Yu-Chen Collection: Consisting of 757 VHS and Beta videotapes, this collection documents the performance of traditional Chinese opera by master artists and opera companies in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities in the United States over the course of the past thirty years. The collection is especially significant because it includes unique documentation of performances by revered master performers, and has been used by Chinese opera groups in the United States to help them maintain the highest artistic standards of the tradition. This large, well-organized collection was created by the late Chang Yu-Chen, a respected Chinese opera performer and teacher, and it came to AFC as a donation by her husband, Vincent Y. S. Wong, of Louisville, Kentucky. This is believed to be the premier collection of its kind in the United States.

Vida Chenoweth Collection: Ethnomusicologist Vida Chenoweth, of Enid, Oklahoma, donated an increment to the Vida Chenoweth Collection that consists of original sound recordings, photographs, manuscripts and other materials that document the music, languages and other aspects of the cultures of the Sentani, the Kosarek and the Marirasi of Indonesia; the Kol, the Baining, the Mangseng, the Blablanga and the Halia of Papua New Guinea; and various groups in Mexico.

Curtis Cook Zuni Pueblo Storytelling Collection: This collection consists of numerous original audio recordings, manuscripts and published works that document the Zuni language and traditional Zuni narratives, along with associated photographs and other materials, created by the donor, Curtis D. Cook, of Goodyear, Arizona, during the 1960s and 70s.

StoryCorps Collection: AFC received the first increment of the StoryCorps Collection, a born-digital collection comprising oral history interviews and family stories collected at Grand Central Terminal, New York City, since the establishment of the StoryCorps project in 2004. These recordings document the lives of ordinary Americans, and form an oral historical record of life at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The project was inspired by the interviews done during the 1930s by the Federal Writers’ Project of the WPA. AFC staff helped develop the themes and database used by StoryCorps. The StoryCorps Project is ongoing, with future narratives generated not only at the original StoryCorps site, but also at “Ground Zero” in New York City, and by two mobile recording studios that are visiting towns and cities throughout the United States.

Reference Activities

All members of the AFC’s staff with training in folklore, ethnomusicology, or audiovisual archiving took shifts on the Folklife reading room reference desk, assisting Library patrons in person and by telephone. The four persons designated as “Folklife Specialists (Reference)” handled the bulk of the Folklife Center’s mail and email reference correspondence, and referred questions as needed to other AFC staff as well as to Library of Congress and professional colleagues around the world. All AFC staff, however – particularly those with known subject expertise – received and handled inquiries that came to them directly.

The reference staff had primary responsibility for maintaining the AFC’s in-house Collections Database, as well as for the inventories of the AFC’s various categories of vertical files. This year’s AFC website redesign made it possible for the reference staff to correct and update online cross-collection finding aids. In addition, AFC placed online a list with summary information on approximately 60% of the collections.

The physical relocation of the Reading Room in 2004 required many decisions regarding where materials (such as the 35,000+ subject files) should be located for easiest use by staff and patrons, as well as what equipment was required at which analog and digital workstations for optimum playback access.

The growing number of digitized audio, video, and image (photo as well as manuscript) collections led to new questions about mechanisms for supplying access and for handling photo- and phono-duplication requests. Digital formats broadened the AFC’s service while requiring the development of new policies for use of digital cameras and scanning.

Reference Team Acquisitions Work: The AFC reference staff handled the serial publications and many small collections that came directly to the AFC. During the year, AFC added more than 2400 items of ephemera to the subject files and over 500 serial issues. It also recommended the acquisition and routing of hundreds of published items to other parts of the Library.

Meetings and Visitors


In FY05, the AFC hosted visitors and assisted researchers from the following countries: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bhutan, Canada, Czech Republic, Egypt, England (UK), Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Jordan, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Northern Ireland (UK), Norway, Oman, Palestine, People’s Republic of China, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Scotland (UK), Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan (China), Tunisia, Wales (UK). AFC Staff also hosted or visited members of several Native American nations, including Zuni and Cherokee peoples.

AFC staff met with, visited, or provided services to the following domestic educational institutions: Bell Multicultural High School, Brandeis University, Brevard College, Brigham Young University, Cleveland State University, Colorado College, Cornell University, Folger Institute, Harvard University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, Little Priest College, Louisiana Technical University, Middle Tennessee State University, Norwood School, Oglala Lakota University, Purdue University, Salisbury University, Sitting Bull College, University of Alabama , University of Chicago, University of Maryland, University of Missouri, University of South Dakota, University of Utah, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

AFC staff aided or worked with the following domestic government agencies, museums, and non-profit organizations: The American Society of Human Genetics, Archive of the City of New Orleans, Arizona Historical Society Museum, Arizona State Museum, Army Corps of Engineers, Association for Cultural Equity, California Council for the Humanities, Center for Southern Folklore, Cleveland Public Art, Florida Arts Council, Florida Folklife Council, Florida House, Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, Indigenous Language Institute, Institute of Noetic Sciences, International Storytelling Foundation, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Maryland Cultural and Historical Trust, Maryland State Arts Council, Mid Atlantic Arts Council, Modern Archives Institute,The Museum of the Cherokee Indian, National Council for the Traditional Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Geographic Society, National Humanities Alliance, National Museum of the American Indian, National Park Service, National Public Radio, National Visionary Leadership Project, Organization of American States, Recording Academy, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Sharlot Hall Historical Society (Arizona), Smithsonian Institution, Society for American Archivists, South Carolina Traditional Arts Network, StoryCorps, Traditional Arts Indiana, US State Department, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Voice of America.

Selected Meetings and Visitors:

October 26: Michael Taft hosted archiving planners from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to advise on the establishment of an archive for their institution.

November 10: Guha Shankar met with four scholars from Bangladesh visiting AFC as part of the State Department sponsored Visitors Exchange Program.

December 8: Michael Taft described AFC operations to a delegation that included the head of the Albanian National Library and the Albanian Minister of Culture.

December 9-10: Michael Taft visited The Museum of the Cherokee Indian, NC, to discuss archival practices with local archivists, librarians, and cultural workers.

January 6: Peggy Bulger and David Taylor met with cultural attachés at the Norwegian embassy to discuss partnerships to showcase Norwegian folklife.

February 25: Michael Taft hosted a visit by Thorleifur Jónsson, head of the National Department, National and University Library of Iceland, and described AFC operations.

March 10-11: Peggy Bulger and David Taylor visited Pete and Toshi Seeger at their home in Beacon, New York. The purpose of the visit was to present the Seegers with DVD "donor copies" of selected films in the large collection they donated to the Center last year, and to discuss the donation of their papers sometime in the future.

March 15: Peggy Bulger met with Bendik Rugaas of the Embassy of Norway to discuss possible collaborations.

March 15: Professor Michael Alcorn, director of the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast, and Anne Hanafin of the Northern Ireland Bureau met with AFC staff Guha Shankar, Matt Barton, Ilana Harlow and Stephen Winick.

March 24-25: The American Folklife Center Board of Trustees met at the LOC for its spring meeting. On March 24, many members of the staff conducted presentations and discussions.

March 30: David Taylor, Peggy Bulger and Michael Taft extensively briefed the Librarian of Congress on AFC acquisitions, describing recently acquired collections and well as major prospective collections that are being pursued.

April 6-7: Peggy Bulger spoke to the combined meeting of the Florida Arts Council, the Florida Folklife Council, and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Board in Tallahassee. While there she attended the induction of Stetson Kennedy into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

April 8-9: Maggie Kruesi and Guha Shankar gave presentations at a conference in Madrid, Spain, sponsored by the Spanish Council for Scientific Research.

April 15-16: Peggy Bulger delivered the keynote address to the “Future of Folk” conference in Madison, WI, and met with the Midwest Folklorists Association.

June 10: David Taylor and Michael Taft gave Madison Council members Jack and Charlotte Kessler a presentation on the AFC.

July 1: Michael Taft hosted a delegation from Bhutan--Mr. Dorji Tshering, Director, National Library; Mr. Thinley Gyamtsho, Principal, Royal Academy of Performing Arts; Ms Dorji Yangki, Division for Conservation and Architectural Heritage.

July 6: Michael Taft hosted Mr. Pedrag Malbaša, Deputy Minister for Cultural and Natural Heritage for the Republic of Montenegro.

July 13: Snehalata Gupta (India), one of a group of international teachers of English, paid a visit to the AFC, where she was given an overview of AFC's heritage and other education projects by Guha Shankar.

July 14: Dance scholar and collector Anthony G. Barrand visited from Brattleboro, Vermont in order to deliver the first half of his collection of documentary materials on Morris, sword, and clog dancing and mumming, which he donated to AFC.

August 4-7: Stephen Winick, Cathy Kerst and Jonathan Gold accompanied and supported the Librarian of Congress at the one hundredth consecutive reunion of the Roberts, Borders, Mauney, Howell, Briggs and related families in Charlotte, NC. They explained the mission of the AFC for family members, documented the reunion, and met and spoke with Congressman Melvin Watt. They conducted twenty-eight oral history interviews, documented ten hours of speeches, performances and family events, and acquired eight important documents of family history.

September 12: Blues musician B.B. King visited the Library to receive the Living Legend Award from Dr. Billington. He was interviewed by Peggy Bulger for the AFC collections.

September 16: Marcia Segal was contacted by Dr. John Lonnquest, Director of the Army Corps of Engineers oral history program, requesting guidance on CD-R media. She provided advice and links to web sites with detailed information.

Programs, Projects, and Public Events

Field School for Cultural Documentation. The AFC’s Field School for Cultural Documentation was held for the second year in a row at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. From July 16 to August 7, Guha Shankar and Ilana Harlow served as faculty at the Field School in Provo, while David Taylor was the field school’s co-director. The student participants conducted research on the intersection of nature and recreational culture in one of Provo's landmarks, Provo Canyon. This was the eighth field school that AFC has sponsored since 1994. BYU is considering establishing its own annual field school on the AFC model, which would be the first such program at sparked by the AFC field school.

Arizona Heritage Project (AHP). On November 19 and 20, Guha Shankar met with educators and students at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe, Arizona to review the progress reports presented by the five partner schools in this year's AHP, now headquartered at the Sharlot Hall Historical Society (SHHS) in Prescott. On February 2, Dan Shilling, Executive Director of the AHP, Richard Sims, Director of the SHHS, and Kelley Cabral, the SHHS Business Officer, met with AFC staff members Peggy Bulger, Guha Shankar, David Taylor and Maggie Kruesi in order to formally launch the next stage of the AHP, which includes expansion into other areas of the state. From June 22 to 25, Guha Shankar participated as A faculty member in the third annual AHP Summer Teaching Institute, held at SHHS. Shankar provided participants with an introduction to the American Folklife Center's work and to the Library's online educational resources. He also conducted workshops on the principles and research methods of heritage-in-education projects.

Montana Heritage Project (MHP). On December 21, Guha Shankar and Jonathan Gold videotaped interviews with AFC Director Peggy Bulger, Peter Bartis (VHP), and former AFC director Alan Jabbour on the significant accomplishments of the MHP on the eve of the MHP’s tenth anniversary. On April 4 and 5, Guha Shankar attended the tenth anniversary MHP youth festival in Helena, Montana. He gave the opening remarks for the festival. On May 4, student ambassadors from the MHP paid their annual visit to the Library. The students presented their yearlong research findings to the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billington, and Associate Librarian for Library Services, Deanna Marcum. On September 12 to 14, Peggy Bulger attended the executive board meeting of the Montana Heritage Project in Helena.

State Department Tours: American Folklife Center staff members Peggy Bulger, Michael Taft and Todd Harvey traveled to seven U.S. embassies in Europe during February and March, presenting materials from the Alan Lomax Collection at the AFC, at the request of the U.S. State Department. The presentations, titled African-American Heritage and the Legacy of Alan Lomax, were given in celebration of African-American History Month. Public presentations were made in the following countries: Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia, Austria, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Hungary, England and Poland. Each program included two speakers, one from the AFC and one from the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), an organization established by Alan Lomax in the 1980s to promote access to his collections and equitable representation of the cultures they represent. In addition, AFC staff members presented descriptive materials and CDs at each venue to describe the work of the AFC and the Library of Congress.

Zuni Pueblo: AFC continued to pursue a relationship with the community of Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico. Discussions with community members centered on the Archive’s two significant Zuni collections: the Doris Duke Zuni Storytelling Collection and the Curtis Cook Zuni Pueblo Storytelling Collection. On October 14, Guha Shankar met with University of Utah archivists to undertake a preliminary survey of research materials in their collection that promise to significantly expand knowledge of the cultural and historical context of the Duke recordings. On February 14, ethnolinguist Curtis Cook met with AFC staff to deliver a presentation on his recently donated collection. On May 11, Shankar, Michael Taft and David Taylor held a conference call with Dan MacCool, Director, American West Center at the University of Utah to discuss the possible exchange of copies of materials pertaining to the Duke Collection. The University collection includes manuscripts, correspondence, and graphic materials from the collecting trip. On May 12, Shankar, Taft, Taylor and Judith Gray met with Richard Yarnall, Head of the Anglo-American Acquisitions division of the Library to discuss the repatriation of digital copies of the Doris Duke Zuni Storytelling Collections to the tribe. On September 23, Guha Shankar arranged for a visit to the Center by approximately 30 students and teachers from the Zuni Indian community of Zuni Pueblo. They were accompanied by Councilman Arden Kucate of the Zuni Tribal Council.

Alan Lomax Symposium: The AFC began planning for a major symposium entitled The Lomax Legacy: Folklore in a Globalizing Century, which will be held at the Library of Congress from January 18 through 20, 2006. A diverse group of scholars, cultural workers, and media producers will gather to reflect on the life work of preeminent song collector, musical anthropologist, and cultural activist, Alan Lomax (1915-2002). The symposium will consist of two days of panel presentations, film screenings, and an evening concert. Participants will discuss their own research, publications, productions, and advocacy work in light of Lomax's pioneering initiatives in these same areas. The gathering highlights the AFC's 2004 acquisition of the Alan Lomax Collection. Lomax's career began at the Library's Archive of American Folk Song in 1933. In FY05, speakers and events were arranged and scheduled, and registration began.

Website Redesign/Updates: On January 24, the "September 11, 2001, Documentary Project" was released on the American Memory website. The redesigned AFC website was put online on April 28. The AFC web redesign team (Stephanie Hall, Michael Taft, Gene Berry, Peggy Bulger, Judith Gray, Cathy Kerst, Guha Shankar, Ann Hoog, John Barton, Sarah Bradley Leighton and Stephen Winick) worked with Julianne Mangin and Elizabeth Miller from the Library Services Technology Policy Office during most of FY05 to redesign and edit the 650 pages of the AFC website including navigational pages. During FY05, Stephanie Hall added the following online collections guides: The David Dunaway/Pete Seeger Interviews Collection; The Fletcher Collins, Jr. Collection; and The Sam Eskin Collection. Jennifer Cutting’s webcast Bringing in the May went live on the Library’s website on May 3 as part of the Journeys & Crossings series. On July 19, Ann Hoog added a “List of Collections” to the AFC website. On September 8, a finding aid to collections from the state of Rhode Island was made available on the website.

Card Catalog Conversion: AFC undertook the first steps of converting the AFC’s card catalog to a database. Several boxes of cards were digitized to image files, and await OCR and keying to convert them to database entries. AFC Staff, including Michael Taft, John Barton, Guha Shankar, Jennifer Cutting, Cathy Kerst and Maggie Kruesi, met with staff members in various Library offices including the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI), Automation Planning and Liaison Office (APLO), and the Cataloging Policy and Support Office (CPSO), all of whom are interested in the progress of the AFC’s catalog conversion. External financial support for the project came from Rich Nevins, founder of Shanachie Entertainment, inc.

AFC Poetry Book: Stephen Winick completed a proposal for a book of poetry on folklife themes, tentatively entitled How to make Rhubarb Wine: American Heritage in Poetry. The proposal was in response to a letter from Ted Kooser, the U.S. Poet Laureate. It has met with the Poet Laureate’s approval, and will be used to find a publisher for the book.

Ethnographic Thesaurus: The AFC continued to work in partnership with the American Folklore Society (AFS) to complete the development of an Ethnographic Thesaurus (ET) for the benefit of ethnographic archives worldwide. The project is funded by a $484,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. From April 1 to 3, Michael Taft and Cathy Kerst attended and co-hosted the ET Board and Team meeting in Washington, DC. The Board meeting on April 2 was also attended by Maggie Kruesi of the ET advisory board. On August 24, Cathy Kerst and Michael Taft, co-chairs of the ET Project, with Maggie Kruesi, AFC cataloger; Kristin Rainey, database manager; and David Batty, lexicographer for the Project, attended an LC CATS Group (Categorization, Taxonomies, Thesauri, Controlled Vocabularies, Classification, and Automated Metadata Generation) meeting.

Genetic Health Family History Project. The Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $400,000 for a collaborative project among the AFC, Institute for Cultural Partnerships, American Society of Human Genetics and the Genetic Alliance for the "Healthy Choices Through Family History Awareness Project." The project uses ethnographic fieldwork to elicit health-related narratives, assisting health professionals and families in the identification of risk factors that should help determine best medical care. The first draft of the tool, entitled "Does it Run in the Family," has been completed. On August 30, Ilana Harlow participated in a meeting at the Association for the Study of Human Genetics to review and improve the first draft and to ready it for publication and field-testing.

StoryCorps: On February 16, the AFC announced the acquisition of the first increment of StoryCorps interviews. The StoryCorps project, a national initiative to instruct and inspire Americans to record one another's stories, was conceived by MacArthur Fellow David Isay of Sound Portraits Productions. Isay was inspired by the WPA oral history recordings that are held at the LC. The StoryCorps interviews provide a contemporary corollary to these documentary recordings from the 1930s, and they are the AFC's first "born digital" collection. On May 19, a press conference announced the opening of two mobile StoryCorps recording booths that spent a week in residence at the LC. During that week, Peggy Bulger interviewed Marvin Kranz of the Library’s Manuscript Division, as well as folklorist and social activist Stetson Kennedy. AFC Board of Trustees member Mickey Hart interviewed Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress. Michael Taft interviewed former AFC writer-editor Jim Hardin, and Todd Harvey interviewed former AFC director Alan Jabbour. On May 24, the AFC hosted a press event and evening reception for the StoryCorps project in the Great Hall.

Irish Musical Traditions Exhibition: The AFC continued to plan for this exhibit, which will explore the journeys of Irish immigrants, and consequently the journeys of Irish music and song, by looking at the spectrum of performance situations and spaces within which these traditions were created and preserved. If funded, the exhibit will highlight AFC and Library collections, musical performances and events, outreach and educational programs. On October 28, Dr. Mick Moloney came to consult on the exhibit; on February 7, Dr. Séamus Ó Catháin of University College, Dublin arrived to consult; on February 9, Peggy Bulger and staff met with Anne Hanafin, Tim Losty and Michael Gould of the Northern Ireland Bureau; and on March 18, Angela Smith, Member of Parliament and Minister of Culture of Northern Ireland visited the Library to learn about the exhibit.

WIPO/UNESCO: AFC continued to be involved with international discussions concerning intellectual property, folklore, traditional knowledge and genetic resources. Peggy Bulger served on the U.S. delegation to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and participated in meetings of U.S. government officials concerning cultural policy matters involving intellectual property. On October 5 to 12, Bulger attended UNESCO planning meetings at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to discuss the cultural diversity convention. On October 16, Bulger was a panel participant in “WIPO and Folklorists’ Roles” at the American Folklore Society meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. From November 1 to 5, Bulger attended the WIPO committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge & Folklore as part of the U.S. delegation in Geneva, Switzerland. On December 7, Bulger attended a UNESCO meeting at the U.S. State Department on Cultural Diversity. On March 23, Bulger attended a meeting at the State Department about the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity. On May 2, Bulger attended a meeting with the UNESCO Cultural Diversity working group at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). On May 12, she attended a meeting with the WIPO U.S. Delegation at the (United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to plan for the WIPO subcommittee meetings on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore. On May 18, Bulger met at the State Department with a working group to plan for a UNESCO cultural diversity meeting. From June 4 to 10, she attended the WIPO Committee meetings on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the U.S. delegation. From June 16 to 17, she attended a symposium sponsored by the Center for Intellectual Property at the University of Maryland at College Park. And on September 30, Bulger met with Brian Brachner of the Library of Congress Law Library to discuss intellectual property issues and WIPO initiatives.

Video Conferences: On December 13, June 6, June 13, July 11, August 9 and August 11, Cathy Kerst and Judy Graves of the LC Digital Reference Team participated in video conference workshops for K-12 educators entitled “Gathering Community Stories."

The Homegrown Concert Series is an ongoing project of the AFC to document the best folk and traditional performing artists in the United States for the archive’s collections, as selected by state folk arts coordinators in the U.S. This program served the state folklife offices across the nation by offering a venue for their artists in DC, and provided opportunities for congressional outreach to constituents. Artists participated in oral history interviews recorded and deposited in the Archive of Folk Culture. The concerts during FY 05 were:

  • October 20: Nadeem Dlaikan and the Dearborn Traditional Ensemble (Arabic music from Michigan)
  • November 17: The American Indian Music and Dance Show with Tom Ware (Kiowa and Comanche traditions from Oklahoma and elsewhere on the Great Plains)
  • December 8: Jerry Grcevich and his Orchestra (Croatian-American tamburitza music from Pennsylvania)
  • April 21: Fiddler Liz Carroll and guitarist John Doyle (Irish-American music from Illinois)
  • May 18: The Chu Shan Chinese Opera Institute (Maryland)
  • June 21: Margaret MacArthur (ballads from Vermont)
  • July 20: D.W. Groethe (Cowboy songs and poetry from Montana)
  • August 17: Benton Flippen and the Smokey Valley Boys (old-time string-band music from North Carolina)
  • September 20: Dale Jett and the Carter Singers’ tribute to the Carter Family (old-time country music from Virginia)

The Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series provided once-a-month lectures that were free and open to the public. The lectures offered a platform for folklife and ethnography professionals to present findings from original research, and added collection materials to the archive. Botkin Lectures in FY05 included:

  • October 21: "From Bridge to Boardwalk: An Audio Journey Across Maryland's Eastern Shore,” by Douglas Manger, folklorist, Mid Atlantic Arts Council, Tatiana Irvine, radio producer, and Elaine Eff, folklorist, Maryland Cultural and Historical Trust
  • January 25: “Enthralled by the Story,” Todd Harvey and Valda Morris discussing AFC’s International Storytelling Collection
  • February 23: "Between Midnight and Day" -- an illustrated lecture by Dick Waterman, photographer, agent, manager, and promoter of traditional Blues artists
  • March 23: “Music in Bulgaria: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture,” an illustrated lecture by Professor Timothy Rice, ethnomusicologist, UCLA
  • May 24: “Building Democracy in America”-- Stetson Kennedy, folklorist, activist and author, interviewed by Peggy Bulger
  • June 22: "From Virginia to Vermont: a Trek from Slavery to Freedom" -- an audio illustrated lecture by Jane Beck, Folklorist and Executive Director of the Vermont Folklife Center, Middlebury, Vermont
  • July 21: "Bridles, Bits and Beads: Folk and Fieldwork from the High, Wide and Handsome State of Montana"-- an illustrated lecture by Dr. Alexandra Swaney of the Montana Arts Council
  • August 23: “Tales of the Jersey Devil” -- an Illustrated Lecture by Stephen D. Winick of the American Folklife Center
  • September 28: “The Beat: Go-Go's Fusion of Funk and Hip-Hop” -- ethnomusicologist Kip Lornell discussing the book he co-authored with Charles C. Stephenson, Jr.

Other Programs and Public Events

March 23: The Center co-sponsored, with the Hebrew language table and the Hispanic Division, a performance of Ladino music by Ramon Tasat.

March 29: The Center co-sponsored, with the African and Middle Eastern Division, a concert of Persian music in honor of Persian New Year, Noruz, performed by the Chakavak Ensemble.

April 1-30: John Barton converted the "Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection" to text for a scholar who will be putting the widely used index online.

May 23-26: Jennifer Cutting and Matt Barton worked with Karen Lund of the Music Division in order to provide a digitized version of Alan Lomax’s 1939 recording of Captain Richard Maitland singing “Shenandoah” for the Thomas Hampson / American Creativity pages under construction on the Library’s website.

May 24: Jennifer Cutting prepared a report on Czech and Czech-American materials in the Archive of Folk Culture for AFC Board member Mickey Hart’s presentation to Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic.

August 1 through 8: Jennifer Cutting coordinated a team consisting of Michael Taft, Maggie Kruesi, Marcia Segal, Stephen Winick, and herself to provide critiques of the first round of work samples for the critical edition of the James Madison Carpenter Collection.

September 21: The AFC hosted the National Endowment for the Arts’s National Heritage Fellows’ Banquet.

Enriching Scholarship

Blanton Owen Fellowships. AFC’s Committee for the Blanton Owen fund made three awards in FY05. $1100.00 was awarded to Sandra Grady for her work with Somali Bantu refugees being resettled in Louisville, Kentucky. $300.00 was awarded to Jaman Matthews in support of his project “Life and Afterlife in the Mississippi Delta: Photographs and Visions.” $300.00 was awarded to Carrie Leonard to support her photographic documentation of Inupiaq life in Noorvik, Alaska.

Gerald E. and Corrinne L. Parsons Fund for Ethnography Fellowships. AFC’s Committee for the Parsons Fellowships made two awards in FY05. $600.00 was awarded to David Hoffman of Burlington, Vermont for a research project focusing on AFC’s involvement in issues pertaining to cultural and environmental conservation. $600.00 was awarded to David Stanley of Salt Lake City, Utah, for a project aimed at assembling an anthology of classic cowboy poetry.

Internships. The AFC hosted and trained twelve interns in FY05, who accomplished a variety of work concerning the collections in the Archive of Folk Culture. The interns were: Amanda Berger, Krista Dorsey, Beth Daniels, Jeff Huffnagle, Rona Razon, Katie Heimer, Maya Lerman, Brian Oliver, Hannah Sacks, Breanna Byecroft, Osei Essed, and Jeremy Foutz.

Junior Fellows. Two Library of Congress Junior Fellows worked at the AFC during FY05: Sarah Reeder, a recent graduate of the College of William & Mary; and Amy Palmer, who has a master’s degree in library science from the School of Library and Information Science at the Catholic University of America.

Leadership Development. The AFC hosted a Leadership Development Intern during FY05: Parthenia Palmer, a longtime employee of the Library of Congress and a student in the School of Communications at the University of Maryland University College. Palmer worked on developing a public relations plan for the AFC.

Key Personnel Changes

February 28: Stephen D. Winick reported for duty as AFC’s Writer-Editor.

May 15: Marcia Segal, formerly an AFC processing technician, was promoted to Processing Archivist.

September 4: David Taylor, formerly AFC Senior Folklife Specialist, was appointed Head, Research and Programs.

Congressional Relations

November 24: Michael Taft and David Taylor gave Sen. Bob Graham (FL) and family a tour of AFC.

January 13: Peggy Bulger and Peter Bartis met with Roger Szemray of Rep. Marci Kaptor’s (OH) office to discuss her wish to serve ethnic museums across the nation.

March 8: Peggy Bulger and Stephen Winick prepared letters for the Librarian’s signature to Senators George Voinovich of Ohio and Tom Harkin of Iowa, and to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert of Illinois. The letters concerned Peggy Bulger’s visits to the embassies in Slovenia and Luxembourg in February.

March 14 (week of): Jennifer Cutting spoke with a member of Rep. Bob Menendez’s (NJ) staff. The call was to recognize the work of Menendez’s constituent, Calvin Earl, a singer of African-American spirituals.

March 15: Jennifer Cutting hosted former Sen. Connie Mack’s (FL) visit to the Folklife Reading Room. Sen. Mack came with his friends, Andrew and Julie Nichols. Mr. Nichols’s mother and aunts were recorded in Florida by the WPA, and their singing is featured in the Center’s web presentation on the Florida WPA.

May 25: Peggy Bulger, Sarah Bradley Leighton, David Taylor and Stephen D. Winick met with Rep. Bill Pascrell (NJ). Rep. Pascrell was presented with a copy of the collection guide for the Working in Paterson Project Collection and a copy of American Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide.

June 21: David Taylor, Thea Austen and Stephen D. Winick coordinated the visit of Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, Mrs. Jeffords, and approximately twenty of his staffers to the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium for the Margaret MacArthur concert, which was part of the “Homegrown” series. David Taylor presented Senator Jeffords with a copy of American Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide, and with the CDR Vermont Recordings from the Collections of the American Folklife Center, created by Stephen Winick.

July 25-29: The office of Senator Harry Reid (NV) contacted the reference desk to obtain copies of photos Paiute Indians from the “Buckaroos in Paradise” website.

August 6-7: Melvin Watt, Congressman from North Carolina, was interviewed for the AFC by Dr. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress. The interview was arranged by Stephen D. Winick, coordinated by Cathy Kerst, and documented on video by Jonathan Gold. Stephen D. Winick presented Rep. Watt with a copy of American Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide and several CDs of African American Music from the Archive.


During FY05, three issues (one a special double issue) of Folklife Center News were produced. The new writer-editor, Stephen D. Winick, redesigned the look of the newsletter, adding color to the covers. Editorially, he emphasized guest writers from the field of folklife and historical articles about the AFC’s collections.

During FY05, AFC produced an updated edition of the manual Folklife and Fieldwork.

Staff Publications:

Judith Gray

  • Review-essay of six series of CDs containing early recordings from the Vienna Phonogrammarchiv. Ethnomusicology 49, 2: 331-36.
  • Review of the first two CDs in the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv Historische Klangdokumente series. IASA Journal 25: 50-52.

Ilana Harlow

  • “Shaping Sorrow: Creative Aspects of Public and Private Mourning in Response to September 11th.” In Samuel Heilman (ed.) Death, Bereavement and Mourning, 2005.

Catherine H. Kerst

  • Review of Framing a National Narrative: The Legend Collections of Peter Christen Asbjornson, by Marte Mvan Hult (Detroit: The Wayne State University Press, 2003). Western Folklore 62, 4: 308-310.
  • Review of MennoFolk: Mennonite & Amish Folk Tradition by Ervin Beck. The Mennonite Quarterly Review, LXXIX, 2: 263-266.
  • “Introduction” in Ervin Beck (ed.), MennoFolk2: A Sampler of Mennonite & Amish Folklore. Scottsdale, Pennsylvania and Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press, 2005.
  • “Access to Multi-Format Ethnographic Field Documentation: Archival Practice in the American Folklife Center.” Folklore Forum 35, 1-2: 29-34.

Michael Taft

  • “Mock Weddings,” “Shivarees,” and “Tall Tales” in David J. Wishart (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.
  • “The Ethnographic Document in the Digital Age: Making Traditional Material Accessible in the Modern World--The Save Our Sounds Project at the Library of Congress.” Cahiers de la société de recherche en musique 8, i:29-34.
  • Review of The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums. San Francisco: National Film Preservation Foundation, 2004. College and Research Libraries 66, 2.
  • Talkin’ to Myself: Blues Lyrics, 1921-1942. New York and London: Routledge, 2005.
  • “Home on the Range: A Study of Regional Preference in Song,” in Martin Lovelace, Peter Narváez, and Diane Tye (eds.) Bean Blossom to Bannerman, Odyssey of a Folklorist: A Festschrift for Neil V. Rosenberg. St. John’s: Memorial University Folklore and Language Publications, 2005.

David A. Taylor

  • Georg Jensen Jewelry. New Haven & London: Yale University Press for the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, 2005.

Stephen Winick

  • Several reviews and articles in the February/March, April/May, June/July and August/September issues of Dirty Linen Magazine, the magazine of folk and world music. Winick is a contributing editor.

American Folklife Center Reference Transactions

For the dates:
October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2005

In-person Reference 1846 2061
In-person Direction 910 1327
Phone Reference 1324 1404
Phone Direction 787 1187
Letter/Fax Reference 132 187
Letter/Fax Direction 21 51
Email Reference 1669 1707
Email Direction 208 680
Total Reference 4971 5359
Total Direction 1926 3235

Other Statistics

  Number Attendees
Classes 0 0
Tours 29 177
Briefings 3 8
Items (containers) served to readers 1481 n/a
Publications given out 2752 n/a
Translations provided to patrons 0 n/a

Acquisitions Statistics

Acquisitions statistics for both AFC and VHP are estimates. AFC’s estimate is simply a count of the materials known to have been acquired in FY05. Since some new acquisitions require a period of time before they are counted and cataloged, AFC does not yet have numbers on many of our FY05 acquisitions, and the numbers below are probably very low.

VHP’s estimate is based on the number of collections acquired in FY05 and the average content of the collections that they have processed in their history. Since the nature of VHP collections is substantially uniform, this is likely to provide an accurate estimate. Since AFC’s collections vary more widely in content, this method would likely not produce a close estimate.

Like most libraries, AFC’s acquisitions are moving from analog to digital. This year’s numbers reflect the acquisition of more digital files and fewer analog items than last year’s for AFC. In the following list, materials that come as digital files are listed under “Digital Files,” whether the content is text, audio, video, or still image. This produces a different kind of count, since a single digital file may contain (for example) 10, 000 manuscript pages, one photograph, or one hour of audio.

Since VHP deals so heavily with World War II era materials and audio recordings of oral histories, they still receive primarily analog collections.

American Folklife Center

Audio Materials: 1, 302
Manuscripts: 20,873
Moving Images: 1,886
Photographs: 1,018
Serials: 500
Other Print Materials (pamphlets and ephemera): 1,853
Digital Files: 142,908

Veterans History Project

These collections are technically part of the American Folklife Center, but generally counted separately.

Audio Materials: 5,027
Manuscripts: 120,617
Moving Images: 3,692
Photographs: 16,264
Machine-Readable Materials
(discs and CDs containing documents):

Veterans History Project Reference

Since reference service for this collection is handled by two separate staffs (folklife reading room and VHP) some of these numbers are reflected in the general reference statistics above. The numbers below reflect questions handled exclusively by the VHP staff, not the AFC reference staff.
Total Reference: 396
Total Directionals: 60


  Back to Top


 home >> About the Center >> Annual Reports

  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
   September 26, 2018
Legal | External Link Disclaimer

Contact Us:
Ask a Librarian