Collections

The Archive of Folk Culture mainly consists of the collections of the American Folklife Center. It was originally founded as the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library in 1928. In 1978 the archive became part of the American Folklife Center and was subsequently renamed the Archive of Folk Culture. The holdings comprise documentation of traditional culture from all around the world, and feature multiformat materials in both analog and digital formats.

We strongly advise that you contact the reference staff a minimum of one week before your visit to allow us enough time to locate collection materials and to provide you with any additional information you might need. Arrangements must be made to access unprocessed materials (digital and analog) or materials stored offsite. Staff have produced a guide to accessing and using ethnographic collections at the Center, which can be found at this link: https://guides.loc.gov/accessing-ethnographic-collections.

  • Digital Collections A number of American Folklife Center collections are available as online presentations, and we continue to add new materials and update existing collections. Digital collections generally contain photographs, audio recordings, and manuscript materials such as field notes or logs for recordings and photos. Note that in many cases the full collection is not online, and in order to access some materials-such as administrative records...
  • Web Archives The American Folklife Center curates the Web Cultures Web Archive, which includes sites documenting the creation and sharing of emergent cultural traditions on the web. The mission of the Center is to document traditional cultural forms and practices, and the proliferation of smart phones, tablets, and wireless Internet connections has positioned networked communication as a space where people increasingly develop and share folklore. This...