May 8, 2013 (REVISED May 9, 2013) American Folklife Center Announces Recipients of Parsons and Owen Research Awards

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (AFC) has announced the recipients of awards from the Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund and the Blanton Owen Fund for 2013.

Awards from the Parsons Fund, which was established to make the collections of unique ethnographic materials housed at the Library of Congress available for the needs and uses of researchers, go to Maurice Mengel of Syracuse University, Alexandro Hernandez of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Michael Largey of Michigan State University.

Blanton Owen Fund awards, which were established in 1999 in memory of folklorist Blanton Owen to support ethnographic field research and documentation in the United States with special emphasis on supporting the work of younger scholars, were awarded to Eric César Morales of Bloomington, Ind., and Susan Taffe Reed of Chapel Hill, N.C.

Mengel is a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Cologne, Germany, and is currently teaching world music and film at Syracuse University. He will come to the Folklife Center for three weeks to work with a large and previously unstudied collection of Romanian materials in the Gheorghe and Eugenie Popescu-Judetz Collection. Mengel hopes to make a valuable contribution to Eastern European ethnomusicology and enrich understanding of Romanian traditional culture, as well as highlight the contributions of researchers Gheorghe and Eugenie Popescu-Judetz, whose fieldwork spanned the years 1938 to 1995.

Hernandez, a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology in the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology, will be working with rare recordings and films in the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, as well as with documentation in AFC and in the Music Division. His project, “The Son Jarocho as Music of Struggle and Protest in Los Angeles,” explores the political and cultural history and musical developments leading up to current uses of this popular song genre in social-justice movements.

Largey, who is professor and chair of musicology at Michigan State University, is working on a book project titled “Finding Haiti: Authenticity and the Ethnographic Imaginary.” He will trace the historical and political roots of ethnographic research done in Haiti during the 1930s, immediately after the 19-year U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915 to 1934). Largey's research on major ethnographers will take place principally in the Library’s Manuscripts Division and its Recorded Sound Division.

Morales, an Indiana University folklore graduate student, will study the Pacific Island dance tradition in Las Vegas, Nev. Las Vegas is considered the “central locale in the Polynesian diaspora.” Morales is a Californian with strong ties to the Las Vegas dance and the Pacific Island arts communities and will work closely with state folklorists in Nevada.

Reed, who is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will conduct research on “Innovating Tradition: Powwows in Appalachian Pennsylvania.” Reed has strong ties to Native American communities in Appalachian Pennsylvania and central New York and extensive credentials as a researcher and writer on Native American culture and traditions.

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American Folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the American Folklife Center Archive of folk culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information, visit

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website,


PR 13-090
ISSN 0731-3527