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Online Collections and Presentations

The American Folklife Center provides online access to selected portions of our collections. Online content may include audio samples of music and stories, digital images of rare letters and photographs, and video clips. To use the featured collections in their entirety, please visit our Collections & Research Services page for information about doing research in our Reading Room.

American Folklife Center Online Presentations

image of Lao dancerAFC Concerts, Lectures, and Symposia with Webcasts, Photographs, and Essays
American Folklife Center online archive of websites and materials from past events.
Image from After the Day of InfamyAfter the Day of Infamy: "Man on the Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
A presentation of approximately twelve hours of opinions recorded the days and months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor from over two hundred individuals in cities and towns across the United States.
Drawing of Lead Belly, head only.Alan Lomax Collection
The Alan Lomax Collection includes ethnographic field documentation and cross-cultural research created and collected by Alan Lomax and others on traditional song, music, dance, and body movement from around the world.
Icon for the Alan Lomax Michigan and Wisconsin CollectionAlan Lomax Collection of Michigan and Wisconsin Recordings
The Alan Lomax collection of Michigan and Wisconsin recordings documents Irish, Italian, Finnish, Serbian, Lithuanian, Polish, German, Croatian, French Canadian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Swedish songs and stories, as well as occupational folklife among loggers and lake sailors in Michigan and Wisconsin. Recorded in 1938.
AFC Illustrated GuideAmerican Folklife Center Print and Audio Publications
Links to print and audio publications, including the American Folklife Illustrated Guide, Folklife Center News, LP Liner Notes, and other available digitized publications. Some items have links to audio recordings. Information on obtaining published AFC audio recordings is also available.
AFC Illustrated GuideAncestral Voices
This first presentation in the Ancestral Voices project is the result of a collaborative venture among the AFC, the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine, and the creators of TK Labels and Mukurtu CMS. Passamaquoddy elders have provided cultural narratives and added traditional knowledge about Passamaquoddy recordings made in 1890.
Bess Lomax Hawes CollectionBess Lomax Hawes Collection
This collection is comprised of papers, photographs, and audiovisual materials relating to the career and personal life of folk arts administrator, folklorist, ethnomusicologist, filmmaker, musician, and teacher Bess Lomax Hawes, most from 1960-2001.
Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife ProjectBlue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project
The Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project was conducted by the American Folklife Center in cooperation with the National Park Service. Ten folklorists conducted fieldwork in August and September 1978, and collected related materials from 1977 to 1981.
The Brazil Cordel Literature Web Archive iconThe Brazil Cordel Literature Web Archive
Brazilian chapbooks, known as literatura de cordel, are a grassroots form of communication that educates and entertains. Today these chapbooks are increasingly in digital form. This web archive collection preserves selected sites or blogs containing full-text cordel, video or audio clips of repentista performances, and news about cordel-related events.
Image of Buckaroos in ParadiseBuckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-82
Documentation of a Nevada cattle-ranching community with a focus on the family-run Ninety-Six Ranch. The material was collected as part of the Paradise Valley Folklife Project conducted by American Folklife Center from 1978-1982.
Image from California GoldCalifornia Gold: Northern California Folk Music From the Thirties
Thirty-five hours of sound recordings, photographs, and drawings collected during a New Deal project aimed at documenting the European, Slavic, Middle Eastern, and Spanish-language folk music of Northern California in the 1930's.
Image from Life on the Ohio and Erie CanalCaptain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal
This collection captures the culture and music of the men, women, and children who worked and lived along the Ohio and Erie Canal. Included are 75 songs, sung by Nye, along with transcribed lyrics, photographs, and personal letters Nye sent to the Library from 1937 to 1944.
Center For Applied Linguistics CollectionThe Center for Applied Linguistics Collection
This collection comprises fifty-nine audio recordings documenting North American English dialects. The recordings include speech samples, linguistic interviews, oral histories, conversations, and excerpts from public speeches. They were drawn from various archives, and from the private collections of fifty collectors, including linguists, dialectologists, and folklorists.
Chicago Ethnic Arts Project CollectionThe Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection
This survey was conducted in 1977 by the American Folklife Center at the request of the Illinois Arts Council to assess and document the status of ethnic art traditions in more than twenty ethnic communities in Chicago, and was jointly sponsored by both organizations.
Civil Rights History ProjectThe Civil Rights History Project
This site presents interviews with civil rights activists conducted beginning in 2010. The video recordings of their recollections cover a wide variety of topics within the civil rights movement. This project was a collaboration between the American Folklife Center and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Colorado Folklife Project CollectionColorado Folklife Project Collection
This collection consists of field recordings, photographs, drawings, and field notes that document aspects of local history, traditional ranch life, vernacular architecture and other forms of material culture in the lower Blue River Valley in Summit and Grand Counties, Colorado.
Colorado Folklife Project CollectionEthnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project
The Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project was conducted in 1982 by the American Folklife Center to survey selected religious and secular ethnic community-based schools conducted, at least in part, in a language other than English to document the continued ethnolinguistic and cultural diversity of the United States.
Veterans History ProjectExperiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Told through oral history interviews, memoirs, diaries, and correspondence, these heartfelt accounts make us laugh, cry and remember. These stories are not a formal history of war, but a treasure trove of individual feelings and personal recollections.
Image of Henry Reed FiddlingFiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection
184 Traditional fiddle tunes performed by Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia that evoke the history and spirit of Virginia's Appalachian frontier. Recorded from 1966-1967, when Reed was over eighty years old, many of the tunes passed back into circulation during the fiddling revival of the later twentieth century.
Image for Florida FolklifeFlorida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942
376 sound recordings that document African-American, Arabic, Bahamian, British-American, Cuban, Greek, Italian, Minorcan, Seminole, and Slavic cultures in Florida. Recorded in conjunction with the Florida Federal Writers' Project, the Florida Music Project, and the Joint Committee on Folk Arts of the Work Projects Administration.
Image for Folk Songs of AmericaFolk-Songs of America: The Robert Winslow Gordon Collection, 1922-1932
Samples of wax cylinder recordings of folksongs collected by the first head of the Archive of Folk Culture, Robert Winslow Gordon. This presentation of recordings, photographs, and notes from the 1978 LP was made in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Archive of Folk Culture.
Image of Hispano Music and CultureHispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection
Selections of sound recordings and manuscript material collected by Juan Bautista Rael, a pioneer Hispano folklorist. The material he collected documents the religious and secular music of Spanish-speaking residents of rural Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado including alabados (hymns), folk drama, wedding songs, and dance tunes.
Image of Halloween skull and bones costume Halloween: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows
The origins and traditions of Halloween are explored in an article by folklorist Jack Santino. A selected bibliography on Halloween and related topics compiled by American Folklife Center staff is also included.
Image of a bride at a Cambodian American WeddingItalian Americans in the West Project Collection
This collection presents documentation from the American Folklife Center's Italian Americans in the West field project conducted from 1989 through 1991 to document aspects of traditional cultural expression of Italian Americans in the western United States.
Image for James Mooney Ghost Dance Song RecordingsJames Mooney Recordings of American Indian Ghost Dance Songs
Berliner disc recordings of ghost dance songs made for the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology by Professor James Mooney, Smithsonian Institution, July 5-11, 1894. Part of: Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry.
Image for Songs of AmericaThe Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America
The Songs of America presentation allows you to explore American history as documented in the work of some of our country's greatest composers, poets, scholars, and performers. A cooperative project of the Music Division; the Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division; and the American Folklife Center.
Image for Living Nations Living WordsLiving Nations, Living Words
This online presentation contains audio recordings of 47 contemporary Native American poets reading and discussing an original poem. Included are sound recordings, transcripts, poems, photos, and biographies for each participating poet.
Image for Local LegaciesLocal Legacies: Celebrating Community Roots
A snapshot of America's diverse culture, the Local Legacies Project Collection includes photographs, sound recordings, videos, newspaper clippings, and more from communities in all 50 states, the trusts, territories, and the District of Columbia. This presentation provides descriptions of the projects accompanied by photographs.
Image of Alan LomaxLomax Family Collections (guide)
In March 2004, the American Folklife Center acquired the Alan Lomax Collection, which comprises the unparalleled ethnographic documentation collected by the legendary folklorist over a period of sixty years.
Image of a bride at a Cambodian American WeddingLowell Folklife Project Collection
The Lowell Folklife Project was conducted in 1987-1988 to document contemporary ethnic neighborhoods, occupations, and community life related to the history of industrialization in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Lomax Kentucky RecordingsThe Lomax Kentucky Recordings
These sound recordings of rural Kentucky music and lore were collected under the auspices of the Library of Congress between 1933 and 1942. The collectors include John Lomax, Alan Lomax, Elizabeth Lomax, and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle. Produced by The Association for Cultural Equity, Berea College, University of Kentucky Libraries, and the Library of Congress.
image of a twin barnMaine Acadian Cultural Survey Collection
The Maine Acadian Cultural Survey was an eight-week study conducted in 1991 as a joint project of the American Folklife Center and the North Atlantic Regional Office of the National Park Service to research information to be used in planning an Acadian Cultural Center in Maine.
Veterans History ProjectMary Sheppard Burton Collection
A set of twelve beautiful hooked rugs made by Maryland artist Mary Sheppard Burton from the Tell Me ’Bout series—each relating a personal narrative about the Burton family. The carpets, which are as large as 45" by 69", may be viewed as complete images (in three sizes) or interactively using the "zoom" view.
Montana Folklife Survey CollectionThe Montana Folklife Survey Collection This survey was conducted in the summer of 1979 by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, in cooperation with the Montana Arts Council. The survey was a field research project to document traditional folklife in Montana.
National Sampler Project
National Sampler Project
The National Sampler Project, in progress, is an effort to present a selection of United States audio recordings, webcasts, and images from the American Folklife Center's Archive, representing each state, territory, and the District of Columbia.
New Mexico ProjectNew Mexico Folklife Project Collection
The New Mexico Folklife Project was conducted by Carl Fleischhauer, consultant, of the American Folklife Center, in the summers of 1984 and 1985. In 1984, the effort supported the work of the folklorist Laurie Beth Kalb, representing the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and focused on three Hispanic santeros in northern part of the state.
Image of Yellow RibbonThe New Yellow Ribbon Tradition
Wearing and otherwise displaying ribbons of various colors to remember loved ones or to identify a particular cause is a contemporary custom with roots in both popular culture and folk tradition. These origins are explored in two articles by the late Gerald E. Parsons Jr., folklorist and reference librarian at the American Folklife Center.
Image from Now What a Time"Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943
Approximately one hundred sound recordings and related written documents collected by John Wesley Work III, Willis Laurence James, and Lewis Jones during trips to Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. The recordings include selections from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia.
Occupational Folklife Project This project began in 2010 as a multi-year documentation project that seeks to document the culture of contemporary American workers during an era of economic and social transition. Collections will be put online as they become available. Currently online: Working the Port of Houston.
Image from Omaha Indian MusicOmaha Indian Music
Photographs and sound recordings featuring the traditional Omaha music from the 1983 Omaha harvest celebration pow-wow, the 1985 Hethu'shka Society concert at the Library of Congress, and the wax cylinder recordings of Francis La Flesche and Alice Cunningham Fletcher made 1895-1897.

Pinelands Folklife Project
The Pinelands Folklife Project collection represents the culmination of a three-year effort to identify and record the cultural traditions in and around the Pinelands National Reserve in the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey in the mid-1980s.
Image from Quilts and QuiltmakingQuilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978-1996
410 photographs and 181 sound recordings provide a glimpse into America's diverse quilting traditions. Selected from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project and the "All American Quilt Contest" sponsored by Lands' End and Good Housekeeping.
Manuscript image from the Radio Research Project Manuscript CollectionRadio Research Project Manuscript Collection
The January 1941 launch of the Radio Research Project marked the Library’s initial foray into broadcast media. The project created numerous and diverse radio programs primarily relating to American history and folklore.
Quahog Fishing image from the Rhode Island Folklife Project CollectionRhode Island Folklife Project Collection
The Rhode Island Folklife Project collection was conducted in 1979 and documents the ethnic, regional, and occupational traditions of Rhode Island, especially ethnic arts, maritime activities, material culture, and local history.
Icon for the September 11, 2001 Documentary ProjectSeptember 11, 2001 Documentary Project
Almost 200 audio and video interviews, drawings, photographs, and narratives that capture the heartfelt reactions, eyewitness accounts, and diverse opinions of Americans and others in the months that followed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93.
Icon for the South-Central Georgia Folklife CollectionSouth-Central Georgia Folklife Project Collection
The South-Central Georgia Folklife Project collection was an ethnographic field project conducted in the summer of 1977 by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress and the Arts Experiment Station of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia. The eight-county area chosen for the study is in the center of the "Wiregrass" region of Georgia.
Image from Southern MosaicSouthern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip
Nearly 700 sound recordings, as well as fieldnotes, dust jackets, and other material that documents a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States. John and Ruby Lomax traveled from Port Aransas, Texas to Washington, DC documenting folk singers and folksongs across a broad spectrum of traditional musical styles.
Image from Tending the CommonsTending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia
The American Folklife Center's Coal River Folklife Project (1992-99) documents the traditional uses of the mountains in Southern West Virginia's Big Coal River Valley. Functioning as a de facto commons, the mountains have supported a way of life that for many generations has entailed hunting, gathering, and subsistence gardening, as well as coal mining and timbering.
card catalog iconTraditional Music and Spoken Word Card Catalog
This searchable database provides bibliographic information and images of original catalog cards for approximately 34,000 ethnographic sound recordings. Most were recorded between 1933 and 1950. The catalog has been digitized in order to provide wider access to this historic research tool for early AFC collections.
Image from Voices from Days of SlaveryVoices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories
Almost seven hours of recorded interviews that took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. A podcast series from this collection is also available.
Image from Voices from the Dust BowlVoices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd & Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection
363 sound recordings and accompanying photographs document the life, work, music, and cultural traditions of residents in the Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California from 1940 to 1941.
Web Cultures Web Archive The Web Cultures Web Archive includes sites documenting the creation and sharing of emergent cultural traditions on the web. This collection, co-curated with scholars who study digital culture, captures a set of websites that document elements of the various digital vernaculars enabled through networked and computer-mediated communication.
Image of Woody GuthrieWoody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song, Correspondence 1940-1950
A collection of letters that highlights the correspondence between Woody Guthrie and staff of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center). The material provides a unique perspective on Woody Guthrie's past, his art, his life in New York City, and his feelings about WWII.
Image of Paterson, New JerseyWorking in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting
This presentation documents the occupational culture of Paterson, New Jersey in 1994. Selected from the Working in Paterson Folklife Project conducted by the American Folklife Center, the collection explores how the industrial heritage of the city expresses itself in its work sites, work processes, and memories of workers.
I Pledge Allegiance Flag World War II Rumor Project Collection
The World War II Rumor Project collection contains manuscript materials compiled by the Office of War Information (OWI). The OWI was established by an Executive order on June 13, 1942, for the purpose of achieving a coordinated governmental war information program.


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   November 18, 2021
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