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American Folklife Center



Women Collectors
American Folk Song
Ex-Slave Narratives
Folk Music Revival
Duncan Emrich Autograph Album Collection
The Local Legacies Project Collection
Field Documentation Projects
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Collections Available Online
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Basque ranch wife Delfina Zatica in her kitchen with her grandchildren, Paradise Valley, Nevada, 1978. Photograph by Carl Fleischhauer. Paradise Valley Folklife Project. American Folklife Center. (PFP-CF-4-19379-9a)
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In cooperation with the Library's National Digital Library Program, the Folklife Center is putting whole collections online for use by readers with access to the Internet. The Folklife Center's Web site, which includes a range of publications, information, and links to other sites of interest, may be reached at <>. Several collections containing material on women's history and culture are currently available online. Select the link on the collection title to go directly to the online presentation of that collection. For a complete list of the American Folklife Center's American Memory collections, see Collections and Special Presentations Available Online.

California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties, based on the collection made for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) by Sidney Robertson Cowell (See the section on “Women Collectors ”), includes sound recordings, still photographs, drawings, and manuscripts documenting the musical traditions of a variety of European ethnic and English and Spanish-speaking communities in California. It comprises 35 hours of folk music recorded in twelve languages by 185 musicians. Among the musicians are Mrs. Francisco Etcheverry and her children singing Basque songs from the Spanish Navarre, and Mary McPhee singing Gaelic songs from the Hebrides, Scotland.

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Carrie Severt milks a cow one-handed at her farm in Alleghany County, North Carolina. Photograph by Terry Eiler. 1978. Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project. American Folklife Center. (BR8-TE-96)

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Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection consists of approximately 18 hours of audio recordings, 28 graphic images, and 1.5 linear feet of print material, including administrative correspondence, field notes, recording logs, song text transcriptions, dust jackets from the recording discs, news clippings, publications, and ephemera. Among those interviewed by Charles Todd at the Shafter Migratory Labor Camp in Shafter, California, was Mrs. Frank Pipkin, who was “a gold mine” of Old English ballads.

Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection presents religious and secular music of Spanish-speaking residents of rural northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. In 1940, Juan Rael documented alabados (hymns), folk drama, wedding songs, and dance tunes, by making recordings in Alamosa, Manassa, and Antonito, Colorado; and in Cerro and Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico (see also Latinas in The Area Studies section).

Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982 consists of 41 motion pictures and 28 sound recordings, including motion-picture footage from 1945 to 1965 by Leslie Stewart, owner of the Ninety-Six Ranch. An archive of 2,400 still photographs, along with audio and video selections, portrays the people, sites, and traditions of other ranches and the larger community, which is home to people of Anglo-American, Italian, German, Basque, Swiss, Northern Paiute, and Chinese heritage. The presentation includes interviews with Martha Arriola, a ranch cook, who compares meals she prepared on the farm in her native Germany with those she prepares on the ranches of Paradise Valley.

Quilts and Quiltmaking in America presents material from two American Folklife Center collections, the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collections (1978) and the Lands' End All-American Quilt Contest Collection (1992, 1994, and 1996). Together these collections provide a glimpse of the diverse quilting traditions in America. The quilt documentation from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project, conducted by the Folklife Center in cooperation with the National Park Service, includes photographs of, and recorded interviews with, six women quiltmakers in Appalachian North Carolina and Virginia. These materials document quilts and quilting within the context of daily life and reflect a range of backgrounds, motivations, and aesthetic sensibilities. The materials presented from the Lands' End All-American Quilt Contest Collection include images of approximately 180 winning quilts from across the United States, illustrating a range of patterns and materials.

The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip includes nearly 700 sound recordings, as well as field notes, dust jackets, and manuscripts documenting a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States, which began March 31, 1939, in Port Aransas, Texas. During the trip, John Avery Lomax, honorary consultant and curator of the Archive of American Folk Song, and his wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax, recorded approximately 25 hours of folk music from more than 300 performers. These recordings represent a broad spectrum of traditional musical styles, including ballads, blues, children's songs, cowboy songs, fiddle tunes, field hollers, lullabies, play-party songs, religious dramas, spirituals, and work songs. Ruby Lomax was the author of nearly all written documentation relating to the collection. She also cataloged the contents of each disc and operated the Presto recording machine while John instructed and encouraged the performers.

Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942 presents folk songs and folktales in many languages from a variety of cultural communities throughout Florida: African American, Arabic, Bahamian, British American, Cuban, Greek, Italian, Minorcan, Seminole, and Slavic. The material was recorded by Robert Cook, Herbert Halpert, Zora Neale Hurston, Stetson Kennedy, Alton Morris, and others. Hurston also performed during several recording sessions, as did a number of other women, singing, in particular, children's songs and spirituals.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), originally from Eatonville, Florida, was already a published novelist and folklorist when she took a job with the Federal Writers' Project in Florida. Hurston served as an important contact in the African American community and wrote a project plan entitled “Proposed Recording Expedition into the Floridas” for Dr. Carita Doggett Corse, state director of the Florida Federal Writers' Project. Songs she performed include “Mama Don't Want No Peas, No Rice,” a song from Nassau, the Bahama Islands, sung at jumping dances and fire dances. This song, she said, “is about a woman that wanted to stay drunk all the time, and her husband is really complaining about it. He's explaining to the neighbors what's the matter with his wife and why they don't get along better.” Nineteen of Hurston's performances can be heard on this presentation (see also Women Collectors).

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