About this Reading Room
The American Folklife Center (AFC) documents and shares the many expressions of human experience to inspire, revitalize, and perpetuate living cultural traditions. Designated by the U.S. Congress as the national center for folklife documentation and research, the Center meets its mission by stewarding archival collections, creating public programs, and exchanging knowledge and expertise. The Center’s vision is to encourage diversity of expression and foster community participation in the collective creation of cultural memory.
Since 1976—when Congress passed the American Folklife Preservation Act (Public Law 94-201) and President Ford signed it into law—the American Folklife Center has fulfilled its charge to “preserve and present” folklife in all its diversity. Over the years the Center's staff have coordinated and conducted large scale fieldwork projects, produced rich public programs onsite and online, supported training for researchers and fieldworkers, provided robust reference services, and, built a significant multiformat archive that holds cultural documentation of lived human experience and meaning-making from around the world.