American Folklife Center

American  Folklife Center The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress includes one of the largest ethnographic archives in the world, and preserves and presents folklife through research, archival preservation, public programs, and training.
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Operating as usual

Happy Birthday to Michael Doucet! See him in concert with Beausoleil Quartet...link below in the caption! The Cajun musi...
02/14/2021

Happy Birthday to Michael Doucet! See him in concert with Beausoleil Quartet...link below in the caption! The Cajun musician, singer, bandleader, and cultural historian was born February 14, 1951. He's both a Grammy-winner and a National Heritage Fellow, one of the leading figures in American roots music. He's best known as a fiddler and leader of the band Beausoleil, but he also plays the accordion and leads the smaller Beausoleil quartet, who appeared here at the Library of Congress.

At the link, find a "Homegrown Plus" post over at "Folklife Today," featuring both the Beausoleil concert video and the oral history with Michael and his bandmates!

https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2018/09/homegrown-plus-beausoleil-quartet/?loclr=fbafc

On February 13, 1939, in Concord, California. Sidney Robertson Cowell recorded Mario Olmeda’s renditions of six Italian ...
02/13/2021

On February 13, 1939, in Concord, California. Sidney Robertson Cowell recorded Mario Olmeda’s renditions of six Italian folksongs, including “Marinaro (The Sailor),” and “La Capinera (The Blackbird),” a song that he said he had learned from his father. Find the songs, photos, and more at the Library's "Today in History."

https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/february-13/?loclr=fbafc

Happy Year of the Ox! The Chinese lunisolar calendar marks February 12, 2021 as the New Year-- a calendar used in some o...
02/12/2021

Happy Year of the Ox! The Chinese lunisolar calendar marks February 12, 2021 as the New Year-- a calendar used in some other Asian countries as well. The reliable hard-working ox is said to have been ahead of the other 12 animals arriving to visit the Jade Emperor and be assigned their order on the calendar. But the ox had agreed to give the rat a ride to the party. The clever rat got on the ox's head and jumped off to be first to meet the Emperor. So the rat is the first sign of the zodiac and the humble ox is second.

Enjoy this 2020 performance by Ann Yao, part of AFC's Homegrown at Home series. Yao performs cutting-edge interpretations of traditional material on the zheng, one of China's most ancient instruments: https://www.loc.gov/item/webcast-9352/?loclr=fbafc

At this link Ann Yao talks about her life and her music with folklorist Stephen Winick: https://www.loc.gov/item/webcast-9644/?loclr=fbafc

Image: A large bull or ox by Tachibana, Morikuni, 1679-1748. Wood block print, 1720. https://www.loc.gov/item/2008660995/?loclr=fbafc

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. The Library of Congress has vast amounts of Lincoln materials, including ...
02/12/2021

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. The Library of Congress has vast amounts of Lincoln materials, including his papers and some of his personal effects. At the American Folklife Center, we especially like the song sheets for several songs from his first presidential campaign in 1860. See them at the first link.

The tunes are noted, so everybody sing!
https://www.loc.gov/search/?fa=subject:song+sheet&q=Lincoln+Hamlin&loclr=fbafc

Find out more about the lithograph at the second link:
https://www.loc.gov/item/2003654191/?loclr=fbafc

For Lincoln's papers, see the following link:

https://www.loc.gov/collections/abraham-lincoln-papers/about-this-collection/?&loclr=fbafc

On February 11 we honor gospel, soul, and blues singer Otis Clay, who was born on February 11, 1942 and died in January ...
02/11/2021

On February 11 we honor gospel, soul, and blues singer Otis Clay, who was born on February 11, 1942 and died in January 2016. Clay was a member of the blues hall of fame and a GRAMMY nominee. Although he mostly sang modern songs, he occasionally performed traditional folksongs as well. At the first link, hear him sing "Banks of the Ohio":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GB4Emma6u0

At the second link, hear a more traditional version sung by Ruby Vass, recorded by Alan Lomax in Virginia:

http://research.culturalequity.org/rc-b2/get-audio-detailed-recording.do?recordingId=3668

The photo is by Masahiro Sumori and shared to Wikimedia Commons with a Creative Commons License.

Someone told us cat pictures are popular on Facebook!  Here's Mrs. Sanfilippo, her sister, and her cat. Mrs. Sanfilippo ...
02/11/2021

Someone told us cat pictures are popular on Facebook! Here's Mrs. Sanfilippo, her sister, and her cat. Mrs. Sanfilippo was married to singer Francisco Sanfilippo, who recorded several Sicilian songs for Sidney Robertson Cowell on February 11, 1939. Find all the photos, recordings, and other documentation at the link!

https://www.loc.gov/search/?in=&q=sanfilippo+francisco&new=true&loclr=fbafc

February 10 is the anniversary of the murder that gave us such ballads as "Oxford Girl," "Knoxville Girl," and "Waco Gir...
02/10/2021

February 10 is the anniversary of the murder that gave us such ballads as "Oxford Girl," "Knoxville Girl," and "Waco Girl." Hear "Waco Girl" at the link!

https://www.loc.gov/item/toddbib000038/?loclr=fbafc

On February 10, 1683, in the town of Hogstow near Shrewsbury, England, the miller Francis Cooper killed his lover Anne Nichols. The date for the murder is established by the diary of Philip Henry, a nearby clergyman, who heard of the murder on February 20 and wrote that it had occurred 10 days before. The names of the murderer and victim are established by this broadside ballad, which was published soon after the case came to light. The ballad contains details, including the murderer's nosebleed, that indicate a relationship between this early broadside and the song that Fred Ross, the singer of the version above, recorded as "Waco Girl."
Charles Todd and Robert Sonkin recorded Fred Ross's version in California in 1940. Ross said he had learned his version from Dorothy Ledford, and Todd and Sonkin transcribed her version as well. Find it at the link below:

http://www.loc.gov/item/toddbib000518/?loclr=fbafc

"The Bloody Miller" was the earliest form of the ballad which in oral tradition came to be known by titles such as "The Oxford Girl," "The Wexford Girl," and in the United States, "The Knoxville Girl" and "The Waco Girl." The song has been recorded by many popular country, folk, and rock artists, including the Louvin Brothers, The New Lost City Ramblers, Brownie Ford, The Blue Sky Boys, Lemonheads, Mac Wiseman, Vandaveer, and The Dead Rabbits. AFC has many versions in its collections as well. At the third link, find the one by Eddie Murphy of Crowley, Louisiana, recorded by John and Alan Lomax in 1934.

http://www.lomax1934.com/the-waco-girl.html

At the last link find an Irish American version called "The Wexford Girl," recorded by Alan Lomax from John W. Green of Beaver Island, Michigan:

http://www.loc.gov/item/afc1939007_afs02282a/?loclr=fbafc

Katherine Dunham was famous as a trailblazer in dance choreography. But, as a young anthropology student, she also helpe...
02/10/2021

Katherine Dunham was famous as a trailblazer in dance choreography. But, as a young anthropology student, she also helped develop the ethnographic study of movement and dance. Read about Dunham's ethnographic work in this new blog for African American History Month in Folklife Today: "Katherine Dunham’s Ethnographic Research in the Caribbean" http://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2021/02/katherine-dunham-in-the-caribbean/?loclr=fbafc

Reminder: The American Folklife Center award and fellowship committees are accepting applications for the Archie Green F...
02/09/2021

Reminder: The American Folklife Center award and fellowship committees are accepting applications for the Archie Green Fellowship in occupational folklife, the Parsons Fund award for ethnography at the Library of Congress, and the Blanton Owen Fund award for fieldwork through March 1, 2021. Read more about these awards and learn how to apply at this link: http://www.loc.gov/folklife/grants.html?loclr=fbafc

On February 9, we share this iconic photo of ethnomusicologist Frances Densmore listening to a cylinder recording with P...
02/09/2021

On February 9, we share this iconic photo of ethnomusicologist Frances Densmore listening to a cylinder recording with Piegan Blackfoot elder Mountain Chief, which was taken on February 9, 1916. The date comes from the negative or negative sleeve, and was part of a caption by the National Photo Company: "Blackfoot Chief, Mountain Chief making phonographic record at Smithsonian, 2/9/1916." After receiving the photo, Library of Congress staff determined that the ethnologist in the photo was Densmore. Later still, American Folklife Center staff realized that the horn on the cylinder machine was for playback, and that they were therefore playing a cylinder rather than recording one. But we have no reason to think the date is inaccurate. The photo has a Library of Congress Reproduction Number LC-DIG-npcc-20061

Because of the sensitive nature of Native American field recordings, not many of Frances Densmore's recordings are online...but there is one. Please follow the link to listen to Menominee singer Louis Pigeon's recording of "Manabus Tells the Ducks to Shut Their Eyes," recorded in 1925:
https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200196307/?loclr=fbafc

For more versions of this iconic posed photo, and information about each one, follow the second link to materials from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division.

https://www.loc.gov/photos/?fa=language:english&q=%22Frances+Densmore%22&loclr=fbafc

Over at No Depression, read about the 2021 inauguration, including Jennifer Lopez's rendition of "This Land is Your Land...
02/08/2021

Over at No Depression, read about the 2021 inauguration, including Jennifer Lopez's rendition of "This Land is Your Land" and the song's journey from its author Woody Guthrie to its performances at the Obama and Biden inaugurations. You'll read about the song's appearance at the 2009 inauguration, where it was led by Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger. We'll also revisit a classic rendition of "This Land" by Senator Bernie Sanders. Embedded throughout the piece you'll find some video treasures from the AFC archive: three versions of "This Land is Your Land" sung entirely or partially in Spanish. We'll also take a side trip into the January 2021 sea shanty craze on social media, and hear Springsteen's version of the classic shanty "Pay Me My Money Down," as well as the Alan Lomax field recording of the Georgia Sea Island Singers. Pop over to Folklife Today to find a link to the article!

http://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2021/02/jennifer-lopez-plus-pete-seeger-bernie-sanders-sea-shanties-and-more-at-no-depression/?loclr=fbafc

The photo by Stephen Winick shows Sones de Mexico Ensemble, who played "Esta Tierra Es Tuya" in the Coolidge Auditorium in 2015.

On February 8, we honor blues and jazz guitarist, singer, songwriter, and violinist Lonnie Johnson (1899-1970), who is g...
02/08/2021

On February 8, we honor blues and jazz guitarist, singer, songwriter, and violinist Lonnie Johnson (1899-1970), who is generally believed to have been born February 8, 1899. (Some sources, however, give 1894 and others 1889 as his birth year.) Johnson was a prolific player and composer, originally from New Orleans, who achieved success as a solo blues performer (with over 130 recordings by 1932) and as a guest guitarist with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and many other jazz musicians. His blues influenced generations of pop musicians, including Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, and his fluid soloing style influenced guitarists in all genres, including Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian. During the folk revival of the late 1950s and 1960s, he experienced a resurgence of popularity as a blues artist.

In April, 1941, the FSA photographer Russell Lee encountered Johnson playing with a trio in Chicago and took three photos of the group. It's unclear if he knew who Johnson was, but the photos stand as precious documentation of that phase of his career. Johnson is the person at the left of the photo (to the bass player's right). Visit the link to see all three photos:

https://www.loc.gov/photos/?q=Entertainers+at+Negro+tavern&loclr=fbafc

On February 7, we honor Oscar Brand (February 7, 1920 – September 30, 2016), one of the most important figures in the 20...
02/07/2021

On February 7, we honor Oscar Brand (February 7, 1920 – September 30, 2016), one of the most important figures in the 20th century folk revival, and also a longtime friend of AFC.

In 1945, Brand began broadcasting his weekly radio show, "FOLKSONG FESTIVAL," which went on to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running weekly entertainment show in history in any medium. In addition to his work as a radio host, Brand was one of the foremost singer-performers of the 20th-century North American folk revival. In 2009, he arranged for his collection to come to the American Folklife Center, and it has since been accessioned by the center. It contains thousands of audio recordings of performances and interviews with leading folk music figures and thousands of manuscript items (e.g. clippings, flyers, and posters), as well as some photos and moving images on video and film. His radio station WNYC has placed a tribute online; find it at the link:

https://www.wnyc.org/story/70-years-oscar-brands-folksong-festival/

On February 6, 2018, for African American History Month, we republished this classic article on the African American spi...
02/06/2021

On February 6, 2018, for African American History Month, we republished this classic article on the African American spiritual "Come by Here" or "Kumbaya." The article was first published in 2010, and the history of the song presented there inspired activists in Georgia to press for its establishment as Georgia's first State Historical Song. Since the 2018 republication, the story has also been covered by the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Read the article at the link!

https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2018/02/kumbaya-history-of-an-old-song/?loclr=fbafc

The photo is Odetta, pictured in a 1958 Publicity photo by John Ross. From the Library’s New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection.

On Feb 6, 1788, Massachusetts became the 6th US state. Learn about collections from Massachusetts in American Folklife C...
02/06/2021
Research Guides: American Folklife Center Collections: Massachusetts: Introduction

On Feb 6, 1788, Massachusetts became the 6th US state. Learn about collections from Massachusetts in American Folklife Center collections in this new guide with links to the Lowell Folklife Project collection and other online materials. https://guides.loc.gov/massachusetts-folklife?loclr=fbafc

Find more guides to Library of Congress collections at https://guides.loc.gov/?loclr=fbafc Guides for AFC collections for all 50 states can be found at this link.

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the state of Massachusetts at the Library of Congress.

On February 5, 2015, The Western Flyers brought classic Western swing, hot jazz & swing standards, toe tapping cowboy so...
02/05/2021

On February 5, 2015, The Western Flyers brought classic Western swing, hot jazz & swing standards, toe tapping cowboy songs, and electrifying old-time fiddle tunes to the Whittall Pavilion at the Library of Congress. AFC staff member Steve Winick snapped this photo of the group in the Great Hall. Enjoy the concert video at the link!

https://www.loc.gov/item/webcast-6645/?loclr=fbafc

Pearl R. Nye was born February 5, 1872. He was born and raised on a canal boat on the Ohio and Erie Canal and grew up to...
02/05/2021

Pearl R. Nye was born February 5, 1872. He was born and raised on a canal boat on the Ohio and Erie Canal and grew up to captain his own boat. He learned songs from his family and other canal families. After the canal closed in 1913, he worked to write down these songs and later sought folklorists who would document the songs he had collected. Read "An Informant in Search of a Collector: Captain Pearl R. Nye of Ohio" https://www.loc.gov/collections/captain-pearl-r-nye-life-on-the-erie-and-ohio-canal/articles-and-essays/an-informant-in-search-of-a-collector-captain-pearl-r-nye-of-ohio/?loclr=fbafc

Explore the collection at: Captain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal: https://www.loc.gov/collections/captain-pearl-r-nye-life-on-the-erie-and-ohio-canal/about-this-collection/?loclr=fbafc

Photo from the collection: Captain Pearl R. Nye. Library of Congress American Folklife Center. https://www.loc.gov/item/afc1937002.ph01?loclr=fbafc

On February 4 we honor Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, who was born on February 4, 1913At the link, find kids' birthda...
02/04/2021

On February 4 we honor Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, who was born on February 4, 1913

At the link, find kids' birthday cards to Rosa Parks, and from there begin exploring the Rosa Parks papers:

https://www.loc.gov/collections/rosa-parks-papers/?fa=subject%3Abirthday+cards&st=gallery&loclr=fbafc

AFC's Civil Rights History Project also has items relating to Rosa Parks. In her interview, Ruby Sales talks about the underlying issues for African American women in Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat on a bus. Her comments begin at about 01:06:00: http://www.loc.gov/item/afc2010039_crhp0007/?loclr=fbafc

Learn more about the Civil Rights Movement through AFC's other oral history interviews with people who were there:

http://www.loc.gov/collection/civil-rights-history-project/about-this-collection/?loclr=fbafc

Pretty Boy Floyd was born 117 years ago today, on February 3, 1904.  By the time he died in 1934, he was a notorious out...
02/03/2021

Pretty Boy Floyd was born 117 years ago today, on February 3, 1904. By the time he died in 1934, he was a notorious outlaw and officially "Public Enemy Number one." He was immortalized in song by Woody Guthrie, who recorded his anthem "Pretty Boy Floyd" for the Library of Congress in late March of 1940. In dialogue with Alan Lomax, Woody recorded quite a bit of commentary about the outlaw himself, followed by the song, followed by commentary about the other famous outlaw Jesse James. While the song is well known from other recordings, the commentary is rarely heard. You can hear both in this licensed video at YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3NjJUjkpiI

When Woody first got a recording contract later that year, record companies did not buy "Pretty Boy Floyd," and Lomax comments on this in a letter in AFC collections:

"I've heard your records which are really fine. My only regret there is that they didn't have sense enough to use 'Pretty Boy Floyd.'"

See the letter at the third link:

https://www.loc.gov/resource/afc1940004.afc1940004_040/?loclr=fbafc

Lomax was right, and "Pretty Boy Floyd" became one of Guthrie's most enduring songs.

The photo is part of the Library's New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection

Address

101 Independence Ave SE
Washington D.C., DC
20540-4610

Closest Metro Stop: Capitol South (orange/blue line) Exit station using main exit Walk approximately 2 blocks N on 1st Street SE. Alternative Metro Stop: Union Station (red line) - .5 miles

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Thursday 08:30 - 17:00
Friday 08:30 - 17:00

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Free online concert tonight, 5 PDT. Come enjoy an hour of original acoustic music. https://fb.me/e/yrdpYCfi
Hello all, I hope this is all right to share here. It's almost here! The 2020 Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music will take place online October 15-18 at this link: http://berea.edu/iss/live Times: Thursday, October 15, 7:00 P:M: Jake Blount Friday, October 16, 8:00 P.M.: Bob Lucas, Alice Gerrard and Kay Justice, Sheila Arnold, Guy Davis Saturday, October 17, 8:00 P.M.: Kevin Howard, Guy Davis, Big Possum String Band, Alice Gerrard and Kay Justice Sunday, October 18, 3:00 P.M.: Berea College Traditional Music Ensemble Showcase - Bluegrass Ensemble, Black Music Ensemble, Mariachi Berea, Folk-Roots Ensemble, Country Dancers, African-Latin Percussion Ensemble For more information, see https://www.berea.edu/.../annual-celebration-traditional.../ or write [email protected] PLEASE SHARE!!! See you then!
Still Time to Register! JOIN US OCTOBER 13-17: The American Folklore Society's annual meeting will be held virtually. The meeting theme is Centers/Peripheries: Connecting Beyond the Binaries. https://www.afsnet.org/page/2020AM "Pay What You Can" registration rates: Additional registration rates to make the meeting more accessible to non-members and those in precarious financial situations. JOIN US! #afsam20
Is is possible to contact anyone in Acquisitions at this time? I have sent Todd Harvey a couple of email messages and not received a reply. I have some questions about materials I am under agreement to send to the library. (I've been working diligently on these!) I hope there is a way to reach someone!
The link to join the event is not working !
How do I get to hear this music? Is it possible on an iPad?
Trying to hear concert now but unable
Walter Parks streaming Aug 12 Noon. Is this the place? Thanks.
Collections Bramuel Hayes Belcher (u.S.M.C.
Check out July 15, noon-1pm
Alasdair Fraser on fiddle and Natalie Haas on cello play Scottish dance music online on July 15 noon-1pm. Go to the page for library of Congress-
#folklifearchivechallenge "Beaver Dam Road" by Frank Proffitt.