September 20, 2000 American Folklife Center to Create National Heritage Fellows Collection

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: (202) 707-5510
Contact: National Endowment for the Arts: (202) 682-5570

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress plans to create a continuing archival collection of documentation relating to the American folk artists who have been named National Heritage Fellows by the National Endowment for the Arts. The collection will be housed at the Center's Archive of Folk Culture, America's first archive of traditional life, and one of the oldest and largest such repositories in the world.

The announcement will be made when the 13 newly named National Heritage Fellows for 2000 are honored at a dinner, by invitation only, on September 20 in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.

The National Heritage Fellowship is the nation's highest honor in the area of folk and traditional arts. Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded 235 Fellowships. Recipients are nominated, often by members of their own communities, in recognition of their continuing artistic accomplishments in such areas as traditional music, dance, crafts, and narrative, as well as their contributions as practitioners and teachers. National Heritage Fellows have come from every region of the country and a broad range of cultural groups. They have included internationally famous artists such as tap dancer Jimmy "Slide" Godbolt, cowboy poet Wally McRae, and acclaimed musicians Zakir Hussain, Shirley Caesar, and Bill Monroe.

"The National Heritage Fellows represent the country's rich and diverse cultural heritage, and they are the living embodiment of the grassroots creativity of the American people," said Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center. "Because of this, we are gathering sound recordings, video, photographs, publications, and other information on their lives and work. We will preserve this collection so that future generations can share in this treasury of American folk artistry."

Newly donated items will complement a modest quantity of information about the Fellows already in the Archive, including files from the NEA, field recordings, photographs, and manuscript materials.

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was created by the U.S. Congress in 1976 through Public Law 94-201 and charged to "preserve and present American folklife." The Center incorporates the Library's Archive of Folk Culture, which was founded in 1928 as a repository for American folk music and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic documentary materials from the United States and around the world. The Center carries out its congressional mandate through its collections, programs, and services, which have touched all 50 states and the American territories.

The American Folklife Center maintains a public reading room (202/707-5510) in the Thomas Jefferson Building, provides reference services, sponsors concerts and other events at the Library, and produces both print publications and published recordings from its collections. The Center conducts field documentation projects and assists ethnographic researchers through an equipment loan program.


PR 00-142
ISSN 0731-3527