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Folklife and Fieldwork: An Introduction to Cultural Documentation

Folklife and Fieldwork: cover

Fourth Edition, 2016
By Stephen Winick and Peter Bartis

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When the first edition of Folklife and Fieldwork was published in 1979, our readers had a difficult choice to make: the better audio quality offered by a bulky reel-to-reel tape recorder or the convenience of the newfangled cassette deck. With one of those two machines, plus a single-lens-reflex camera and a few rolls of film, the 1979 fieldworker was equipped to document the world. Earlier editions of this guide gave great advice regarding the handling and preservation of these older forms of documentation. These tips are still relevant for some archival collections, but not for most fieldwork. Born-digital documentation requires a whole new set of practices—new ways of recording and new methods of preservation.
Since the first edition appeared there has also been a surge of interest in personal archiving. Preserving family history, genealogy, and community history has never been more popular. Popular interviewing projects like the Veterans History Project and StoryCorps are leading the way in a new era of oral history collecting, and both of their collections are part of the American Folklife Center archive. While this book prioritizes the documentation of folklife, by which we mean traditional culture and heritage, the guidelines offered here for interviewing and documentation apply to a broad range of topics.

A Spanish language version of this edition is not yet available. The PDF of the Spanish language version of the third edition, La Tradición Popular y la Investicación de Campo [46 pp.; 8.21MB ] (2002) is available at the link.


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   October 5, 2016
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