Online Collections and Presentations
The American Folklife Center provides online access to selected portions
of our collections. We create our own online presentations on various topics
and the American Memory project
provides additional online access to selected collections. Online content
may include audio samples of music and stories, digital images of rare
letters and photographs, and video clips. To use the featured collections
in their entirety, please visit our Collections & Research
Services page for information about doing research in our Reading Room.
American Folklife Center Online Presentations
AFC Concerts, Lectures, and Symposia with Webcasts, Photographs, and Essays
American Folklife Center online archive of websites and materials from past events.
Alan Lomax Collection of Michigan and Wisconsin Recordings
The Alan Lomax collection of Michigan and Wisconsin recordings (AFC 1939/007) documents Irish, Italian, Finnish, Serbian, Lithuanian, Polish, German, Croatian, French Canadian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Swedish songs and stories, as well as occupational folklife among loggers and lake sailors in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Alan Lomax Collection (manuscripts installment)
The Alan Lomax Collection includes ethnographic field documentation and cross-cultural research created and collected by Alan Lomax and others on traditional song, music, dance, and body movement from around the world. This presentation includes the first 25,000 pages of Alan Lomax’s personal papers and office files from his time at the Library of Congress (1932-1942) and from his post-Library career through the 1990s.
American Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide
Guide to the history and scope of the collections with images and audio recordings selected from the archive by the staff of the Folklife Center. Available online and in print with an accompanying cd. Edited by James Hardin with a forward by Dr. Peggy Bulger and a CD produced by Jennifer Cutting. Published by the Library of Congress, 2004. Select here to purchase the printed version of the Guide from the Library's Online Sales Shop.
Blue Ridge Harvest: A Region's Folklife in Photographs [PDF, 123 pp., 44.38 MB. Requires free Adobe Reader software.]
This often-requested 1981 book published black and white photographs from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project
conducted by The American folklife Center in cooperation with the National Park Service in August and September 1978.
The Civil Rights History Project
This site presents interviews with civil rights activists conducted beginning in 2010. The video recordings of their recollections cover a wide variety of topics within the civil rights movement, such as the influence of the labor movement, nonviolence and self-defense, religious faith, music, and the experiences of young activists. Select the link to learn more about this project; a collaboration between the American Folklife Center and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Egg Art [PDF, 15 pages, 2480kb. Requires free Adobe Reader software.]
This little booklet produced by the American Folklife Center in 1982 is long out of print, yet still very much in demand. It gives a brief description of European egg decorating traditions and explains the techniques for producing elaborate designs. Color cover photo with black and white photos inside. Orignal size: 4 1/2 x 4 1/2".
War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Told through oral history interviews,
and correspondence, these heartfelt
accounts make us laugh, cry and remember. These stories
are not a formal
history of war, but a treasure trove of individual feelings
and personal recollections.
of America: The Robert Winslow Gordon Collection, 1922-1932
Samples of wax cylinder recordings of
folksongs collected by the first head of the Archive of Folk
Culture, Robert Winslow Gordon. This presentation of recordings,
photographs, and notes from the 1978 LP was made in celebration
of the 75th anniversary of the Archive of Folk Culture.
Halloween: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows
The origins and traditions of Halloween are explored
in an article by folklorist Jack Santino. A selected bibliography on Halloween
and related topics compiled by American Folklife Center staff is also included.
Historic AFC LP Liner Note Booklets
Booklets from publications of long playing records produced from the 1950s to the 1980s containing liner notes and scholarly essays about the music. Some of these were previously issued on 78 rpm records in the 1940s, and some were re-issued as cassettes by the Library and as CDs by Rounder Records (currently out of print).
The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America
The Songs of America presentation allows you to explore American history as documented in the work of some of our country's greatest composers, poets, scholars, and performers. A cooperative project of the Music Division; the Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division; and the American Folklife Center.
Celebrating Community Roots
A snapshot of America's diverse culture,
the Local Legacies Project Collection includes photographs, sound recordings,
newspaper clippings, and more from communities in all 50
states, the trusts, territories, and the District of Columbia.
This presentation provides descriptions of the projects accompanied by photographs. The project was initiated by members of Congress
commemorating the Library's Bicentennial.
Lomax Family Collections
In March 2004, the American Folklife Center acquired the
Alan Lomax Collection, which comprises the unparalleled ethnographic
documentation collected by the legendary folklorist over
a period of sixty years.
Mary Sheppard Burton Collection
A set of twelve beautiful hooked rugs made by Maryland artist Mary Sheppard Burton from the Tell Me ’Bout series—each relating a personal narrative about the Burton family. The carpets, which are as large as 45" by 69", may be viewed as complete images (in three sizes) or interactively using the "zoom" view.
National Sampler Project
The National Sampler Project, in progress, is an effort to present a selection of United States audio recordings, webcasts, and images from the American Folklife Center's Archive, representing each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. Select the link to find the samplers currently available.
New Yellow Ribbon Tradition
Wearing and otherwise displaying ribbons of
various colors to remember loved ones or to identify a particular cause
is a contemporary custom with roots in both popular culture and folk tradition.
These origins are explored in two articles by the late Gerald E. Parsons
Jr., folklorist and reference librarian at the American Folklife Center.
Traditional Music and Spoken Word Card Catalog
This searchable database provides bibliographic information and images of original catalog cards for approximately 34,000 ethnographic sound recordings. Most were recorded between 1933 and 1950. The catalog has been digitized in order to provide wider access to this historic research tool for early AFC collections.
American Memory Online Collections
the Day of Infamy: "Man on the Street" Interviews Following
the Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
A presentation of approximately twelve
hours of opinions recorded the days and months following
the bombing of Pearl Harbor from over two hundred individuals
in cities and towns across the United States.
in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-82
Documentation of a Nevada cattle-ranching
community with a focus on the family-run Ninety-Six Ranch. The
material was collected as part of the Paradise Valley Folklife
Project conducted by American Folklife Center from 1978-1982.
Gold: Northern California Folk Music From the Thirties
Thirty-five hours of sound recordings, photographs,
and drawings collected during a New Deal project aimed at documenting
the European, Slavic, Middle Eastern, and Spanish-language folk
music of Northern California in the 1930's.
Captain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal
This collection captures the culture and
music of the men, women, and children who worked and lived along
the Ohio and Erie Canal. Included are 75 songs, sung by Nye,
along with transcribed lyrics, photographs, and personal letters
Nye sent to the Library from 1937 to 1944.
The Center for Applied Linguistics Collection
comprises fifty-nine audio recordings documenting North American English dialects. The recordings include speech samples, linguistic interviews, oral histories, conversations, and excerpts from public speeches. They were drawn from various archives, and from the private collections of fifty collectors, including linguists, dialectologists, and folklorists.
Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection
184 Traditional fiddle tunes performed by
Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia that evoke the history and spirit
of Virginia's Appalachian frontier. Recorded from 1966-1967,
when Reed was over eighty years old, many of the tunes passed
back into circulation during the fiddling revival of the later
Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942
376 sound recordings that document African-American,
Arabic, Bahamian, British-American, Cuban, Greek, Italian,
Minorcan, Seminole, and Slavic cultures in Florida. Recorded
by Robert Cook, Herbert Halpert, Zora Neale Hurston, and
others in conjunction with the Florida Federal Writers' Project,
the Florida Music Project, and the Joint Committee on Folk
Arts of the Work Projects Administration
Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection
Selections of sound recordings and manuscript
material collected by Juan Bautista Rael, a pioneer Hispano folklorist.
The material he collected documents the religious and secular
music of Spanish-speaking residents of rural Northern New Mexico
and Southern Colorado including alabados (hymns), folk
drama, wedding songs, and dance tunes.
What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals,
Approximately one hundred sound recordings
and related written documents collected by John Wesley Work
III, Willis Laurence James, and Lewis Jones during trips
to Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. The recordings include
selections from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College
(now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia.
Photographs and sound recordings featuring
the traditional Omaha music from the 1983 Omaha harvest celebration
pow-wow, the 1985 Hethu'shka Society concert at the Library of
Congress, and the wax cylinder recordings of Francis La Flesche
and Alice Cunningham Fletcher made 1895-1897.
and Quiltmaking in America, 1978-1996
410 photographs and 181 sound recordings
provide a glimpse into America's diverse quilting traditions.
Selected from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project and the "All
American Quilt Contest" sponsored by Lands' End and Good
11, 2001 Documentary Project
Almost 200 audio and video interviews,
drawings, photographs, and narratives that capture the heartfelt
reactions, eyewitness accounts, and diverse opinions of Americans
and others in the months that followed the terrorist attacks
on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines
Flight 93. Patriotism, sadness, anger, and insecurity are
common themes expressed through the material.
Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip
Nearly 700 sound recordings, as well as fieldnotes,
dust jackets, and other material that documents a three-month,
6,502-mile trip through the southern United States. John and
Ruby Lomax traveled from Port Aransas, Texas to Washington, DC
documenting folk singers and folksongs across a broad spectrum
of traditional musical styles.
Tending the Commons:
Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia
The American Folklife Center's Coal River
Folklife Project (1992-99) documents the traditional uses of
the mountains in Southern West Virginia's Big Coal River Valley.
Functioning as a de facto commons, the mountains have supported
a way of life that for many generations has entailed hunting,
gathering, and subsistence gardening, as well as coal mining
Voices from the Days of Slavery:
Former Slaves Tell Their Stories
Almost seven hours of recorded interviews
that took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states.
Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s,
discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of
slaves, their families, and freedom. A podcast series from this collection is also available.
Voices from the Dust
Bowl: The Charles L. Todd & Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection
363 sound recordings and accompanying photographs
document the life, work, music, and cultural traditions of residents
in the Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps
in central California from 1940 to 1941.
Woody Guthrie and
the Archive of American Folk Song, Correspondence 1940-1950
A collection of letters that highlights the
correspondence between Woody Guthrie and staff of the Archive
of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American
Folklife Center). The material provides a unique perspective
on Woody Guthrie's past, his art, his life in New York City,
and his feelings about WWII.
in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting
470 excerpts from original sound recordings
and 3,882 photographs that document the occupational culture
of Paterson, New Jersey in 1994. Selected from the Working
in Paterson Folklife Project conducted by the American Folklife
Center, the collection explores how the industrial heritage
of the city expresses itself in its work sites, work processes,
and memories of workers.