January 19, 2016 American Folklife Center Launches "My Tradition" Photo Campaign

Project Kicks Off Year of Events Celebrating 40th Anniversary

Public Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302 | Stephen Winick (202) 707-1732
Contact: How to Participate

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (AFC) today launched a year-long campaign asking Americans to share photos of their folk traditions. The campaign kicks off a year of events that will commemorate AFC’s four decades as the institution of record for American folk traditions and ensure that it remains the country’s most vibrant folklife archive and research center well into the future.

“We’re very excited to be passing this milestone in the Center’s history,” said AFC Director Elizabeth Peterson. “We want to take this year not only to look back, but more importantly to look forward to the next forty years of documenting and preserving traditional arts and cultural heritage.”

The photo campaign asks people all over the United States and beyond to submit photos of a folk tradition in which they themselves participate, creating a collective snapshot of folklife in 2016.

“The ‘My Tradition’ project is one way we are using the anniversary to highlight the continuum of AFC’s work,” Peterson said. “We want researchers in the future to understand the folklife of 2016, just as today’s researchers use AFC collections to look at traditions 20 and 40 years ago.”

Photo subjects can include performances; artworks; cuisine; handmade objects such as baskets, textiles or furniture making; or customs observed, such as anniversaries, holidays or other traditions. The campaign asks participants to share the photos to Flickr with the tag “MyTradition” and a Creative Commons license. The campaign will last throughout 2016, and at the end of the year the Library of Congress will harvest photos that have both the tag and a license and add them to the AFC’s collections. For further details on how to participate (and what constitutes a folk tradition), visit the AFC blog, Folklife Today.

The “My Tradition” campaign is the first in a series of public programs, special events and other activities planned throughout the year celebrating AFC’s 40-year role in the preservation and promotion of traditional culture.

Plans include special events in the center’s annual summer Homegrown Concert Series and Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series; collaborations with organizations such as the Society for Ethnomusicology and the International Association of Sound Archives; presentations by staff members at academic conferences and symposia; concerts and open mic stages at large folk music gatherings such as Folk Alliance International and the Brooklyn Folk Festival; and an expansion of AFC’s traveling exhibition, which is displayed at performance venues, conferences, and local libraries.

AFC will issue a 2016 edition of its classic fieldwork manual “Folklife and Fieldwork,” as well as other print and online publications. The center’s blog, Folklife Today, will make regular postings throughout the year highlighting AFC’s contributions and collections, and noting AFC’s events.

The events will culminate on December 8, with a special concert in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium. Details on this and other events will be added throughout the year to the center’s website, loc.gov/folklife/events/.

The American Folklife Center was created by Public Law 94-201, The American Folklife Preservation Act, which was signed into law by President Gerald Ford on Jan. 2, 1976. The law placed AFC 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 has become one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the U.S. and around the world. The archive includes about 6 million sound recordings, manuscripts, photographs and other items -- 5 million of which have been acquired in the last 40 years.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s first-established 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, loc.gov.


PR 16-015
ISSN 0731-3527