May 16, 2000 Local Legacies Participants To Visit Washington To Celebrate Their Unique Cultural Traditions at the Library of Congress

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189, Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

A busload of Native American dancers from Montana, a group of mule drivers from North Carolina, participants in a yearly celebration of Thomas Edison from Florida, and celebrants from Saint Mary's, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church's Polka Mass from Pennsylvania are just a sample of the hundreds of Americans from all over the nation who will converge on the Library of Congress May 22, 23, and 24 to celebrate the completion of the Local Legacies Project, a joint effort by Congress, the Library of Congress and communities throughout the nation to document their local customs and heritage and send the results to Washington for safekeeping.

On Tuesday, May 23, from 6 to 8 p.m., a reception will be held in the Library's Great Hall to honor Local Legacies Project participants and the members of Congress who nominated projects from their districts and states to become Local Legacies. Special tables will be set up so that participants can meet with Members of Congress or staff.

More than 1,300 traditional activities or events were selected by members of Congress as Local Legacies in every state and the District of Columbia to celebrate American cultural diversity as a Bicentennial project of the Library of Congress, which celebrated its 200th birthday on April 24. Participants were asked to document their activity in photographs, videotape, audiotape, and written expression. Folklorists and curators from the Library of Congress provided guidance and suggestions for the massive documentary project that is now housed in acid-free boxes in the Archive of American Folk Culture.

"The Local Legacies project celebrates, and shares with the nation, the grassroots creativity of every part of America," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "It provides a kind of snap shot of what Americans thought worth preserving at the turn of the new century and should be a valuable resource for scholars in the future."

Thousands of participants have been invited to travel to Washington to tour the facilities of the world's largest library during the three-day period, where the record of their local music, parades, powwows, dogsled races, rodeos, festivals, and craftwork has been cataloged and archived by the American Folklife Center as a snapshot of America at the turn of the 21st century that will be made available for future generations to study.

In addition to special tours of the Library's facilities and collections, the Local Legacies Project office will hold an open house each day from 10 noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room LA144 of the Library's John Adams Building, 110 Second St. S.E., so that participants can see how their collection has been cataloged and preserved, as well as view the photographs, videos, posters, recordings, interviews and written documentation that was submitted by other groups across the nation.

Note to editors: Reporters and media representatives are invited to attend the reception and/or meet with Local Legacies participants during their visit to Washington. Contact the Library's Public Affairs Office to find out which projects from your area will be represented and contacts for interviews. Descriptions of all the projects, sample illustrations and other documentary material are now available on the Library's Web site at

A selection of high resolution digital photographs of projects around the nation are available via email from [email protected].

A complete television news package, with video samples of projects and sound bites from James Billington, Librarian of Congress, and Peter Bartis, Project Coordinator, is available from Audrey Scolny at DWJ TV, (800) 766-1711, ext. 228


PR 00-080
ISSN 0731-3527