Press contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302, David Taylor (202) 707-1736

December 23, 2008

Library of Congress Seeks Sermons and Orations Relating to 2009 Presidential Inauguration

Over many decades, the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress has documented everyday citizens’ reactions to major historic events in our collective American experience. For instance, man-on-the-street interviews were recorded on the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941; Italian Americans were documented to celebrate the Columbus quincentenary in 1992; interviews were conducted with Americans across the nation in the weeks following the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001; and the Veterans History Project is preserving the personal experience stories of Americans who served the nation in wartime. These voices of ordinary Americans responding to extraordinary events exist as valuable research collections for the scholars of today and they are a cultural legacy preserved for future generations.

On Jan. 20, 2009, the United States will inaugurate Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president. In anticipation of citizens’ efforts to mark this historic time around the country, the AFC will be collecting audio and video recordings of sermons and orations that comment on the significance of the inauguration of 2009. It is expected that such sermons and orations will be delivered at churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship, as well as before humanist congregations and other secular gatherings. The AFC is seeking as wide a representation of orations as possible. This collection is one of many oral history and spoken word collections at the AFC that preserve American emotions and memories of important cultural events.

Congregations and groups interested in contributing to this once-in-a-lifetime documentary project are asked to record sermons and orations delivered during Inauguration Week 2009 and donate them to the Library of Congress. The donated recordings will be preserved at the AFC in order to enhance the nation’s historical record and preserve the voices of religious leaders other orators for researchers and scholars of the future. After being processed by archivists, the collection will be made available to scholars, students and the general public.

Individuals and groups interested in contributing to the Inauguration 2009 Sermons and Orations Project are asked to submit audio and video recordings made in digital or other approved formats. To be accepted into the collection, the recordings must be of sermons and orations that were delivered to congregations and other audiences between Friday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009.

In addition to audio and video recordings, the AFC is collecting written texts of sermons and orations (submitted in the form of print or electronic media), as well as printed programs from the events during which the sermons and orations were delivered. All submissions must be postmarked by Feb. 27, 2009, and must be accompanied by a signed release form and completed data form, found on the AFC Web site, www.loc.gov/folklife/.

For additional information about the Inauguration 2009 Sermons and Orations Project, including the technical specifications of the recordings that can be accepted, downloadable copies of the required forms, and instructions for submitting collections, please visit www.loc.gov/folklife/, or call the center at (202) 707-5510 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday – Friday, Eastern Standard Time.

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest 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 Web site www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at myLOC.gov.

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed 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.

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PR 08-234
12/23/08
ISSN 0731-3527

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