- American Folklife Center
The American Folklife Center at the
Library of Congresswas created by Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American Folklife" (see Public Law 94-201 [http://www.loc.gov/folklife/public_law.html] ). The Center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established at the Library in 1928 as a repository for American folk music. The Center and its collections have grown to encompass all aspects of folkloreand folklife from this country and from countries around the world.
The twentieth century has been called the age of documentation. Folklorists and other ethnographers have taken advantage of each succeeding technology, from
Thomas Edison's wax-cylinder recording machine (invented in 1877) to the latest CDor digital audioequipment, to record the voices and music of many regional, ethnic, and cultural groups in the United Statesand around the world. Much of this priceless documentation has been assembled and preserved in the American Folklife Center's Archive of Folk Culture, which founding head Robert Winslow Gordonin 1928 called "a national project with many workers." As we enter the twenty-first century, the American Folklife Center is working on the critical issues of digital preservation, Web access and archival management.
The collections of the American Folklife Center include Native American song and dance; ancient English ballads; the tales of "Bruh Rabbit," told in the
Gullahdialect of the Georgia Sea Islands; the stories of ex- slaves, told while still vivid in the minds of those who endured one of the most harrowing periods of American history; an Appalachianfiddle tune that has been heard on concert stages around the world; a Cambodian weddingin Lowell, Massachusetts; a Saint Joseph's DayTable tradition in Pueblo, Colorado; Balinese Gamelanmusic recorded shortly before the Second World War; documentation from the lives of cowboys, farmers, fishermen, coalminers, shop keepers, factory workers, quilt makers, professional and amateur musicians, and housewives from throughout the United States; first-hand accounts of community events from every state; and international collections from every region of the world.
All of these images, sounds, written accounts and a myriad more items of cultural documentation are available to researchers at the Center's Archive of Folk Culture. There, more than 4,000 collections, assembled over the years from "many workers," embody the very heart and soul of our national traditional life and the cultural life of communities from many regions of the world.
The collections in the Center's Archive of Folk Culture include folk cultural material from all fifty states, as well as from United States trusts, territories and the
District of Columbia. Most of these areas have been served by the American Folklife Center's cultural surveys, equipment loan program, publications, and other projects.
Gordon "Inferno" Collection
* [http://www.loc.gov/folklife/ American Folklife Center]
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