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american folklife center

P.L. 94-201, The American Folklife Preservation Act of 1976 (20 USC 2101) which created the American Folklife Center, states the following: that the diversity inherent in American folklife has contributed greatly to the cultural richness of the Nation and has fostered a sense of individuality and identity among the American people; . . . [and] that it is in the interest of the general welfare of the Nation to preserve, support, revitalize, and disseminate American folklife traditions and arts. . . .
The term "American folklife" means the traditional expressive culture shared within the various groups in the United States: familial, ethnic, occupational, religious, regional; expressive culture includes a wide range of creative and symbolic forms such as custom, belief, technical skill, language, literature, art, architecture, music, play, dance, drama, ritual, pageantry, handicraft; these expressions are mainly learned orally, by imitation, or in performance, and are generally maintained without benefit of formal instruction or institutional direction.

American Folklife Center Permanently Authorized!
Letter written by then Director Alan Jabbour

About Dr. Alan Jabbour who authorized the American Folklife Center.

Public Law 94-201 creating the American Folklife Center was passed by the 94th Congress on January 2, 1976. Established in 1976 by a Title 20 Education Act, the American Folklife Preservation Act (P.L. 94-201) is a small and versatile organization designed to operate in cooperation with other federal state and local agencies and organizations and to initiate independent programs using its own resources. It is mandated by Congress to engage in a broad range of educational and research activities that preserve, revitalize, and present America's rich and diverse cultural heritage -- a heritage associated with ethnic, regional, and occupational cultures.

RIP Alan Jabbour 1942 - 2017 1/17/17 by Stephen Winick In 1968 Alan Jabbour became an assistant professor of English and folklore at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1969 he was appointed head of the Archive of Folk Song (now the American Folklife Center Archive) at the Library of Congress.


The American Folklife Center
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4610 and Contact the folks that work there.

A Popular '40s Map of American Folklore Was Destroyed by Fears of Communism The government saw Red when looking at William Gropper's painting of the United States.


In 1999, Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress where he heads the sub-committee on the digitization and preservation of the Center's vast collections. In October of 2000, the Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters upon Mickey for his work in advancing the preservation of aural archives.

Subject: New from the American Folklife Center
Date: 7 Jan 1998 22:58:36 -0000


_Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection_, a multi-format ethnographic field collection from the American Folklife Center's Archive of Folk Culture, has just been made available through the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress ( This collection documents the everyday life of residents of Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California in 1940 and 1941. This collection consists of audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, and ephemera generated during two separate documentation trips undertaken by Todd and Sonkin.

"Today in History," accessible through the Library of Congress's main homepage The entry uses the fiddle tune "Eighth of January" as represented in _Voices from the Dust Bowl_.

California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the '30s_, another ethnographic field collection from the American Folklife Center's Archive of Folk Culture, continues to be available online
This elaborate online collection 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 representing 185 musicians.

Folklife Sourcebook: A Directory of Folklife Resources in the United States has been revised and expanded for 1997. Chapters include directories for graduate programs, public sector folklore organizations, archives, serial publications, and more. This edition will be available as an online resource only. Please send updates on information in the directory to Peter Bartis, The URL for this publication is:

In addition, the Folklife Center's web pages include many popular publications, guides to collections, information about projects to publish recordings from the collections on CD, and the Folkline information service.


  • Alan Lomax Remembered 1915-2002 passed away on the morning of July 19, 2002. and John Lomax who collected cowboy songs
  • Woody Guthrie - This Land Is Your Land
  • Ramblin' Jack Elliott - Born Brooklyn, New York as Elliot Charles Adnopoz August 1, 1931 saw his first rodeo watchiing Gene Autry and the blacklit bulls at Madison Square Garden. Elliot left home at 14 years old, hitched a rig to Washington, DC where he joined the Rodeo and became a cowboy. Eliott said "It ain't where you're from that counts, it's where you're going." Woody and Jack braved the trail to California in 1954. Their destination was Topanga Canyon, a hideout for the greatest outlaw desperadoes of the 1950's — left wing artists and/or intellectuals waiting out the McCarthyist storm. Elliott was Woody Guthrie's protégé - then came Bob Dylan, doing the Guthrie-Elliott thing, called a poor man's Elliott (Jack, in turn, had been called a poor man's Guthrie) Ramblin Jack's Discography
  • Pete Seeger - Folksinger and Activist - Having refused to answer the committee's questions about his associations without invoking the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination, Pete was cited for contempt of Congress, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a year in prison.
  • Bess Lomax Hawes - Noted folklorist and performer with Pete Seeger
  • Bernie Krause was a member of the Weavers with Pete Seeger
  • Cordley Coit - Ethnomusicologist on the Educational CyberPlayGround.
  • The Byrd's Roger McGuinn
  • Jean Ritchie Receives Heritage Fellowship From The NEA.
    RIP 2015 Jean Ritchie, who brought hundreds of traditional songs from her native Appalachia to a wide audience — singing of faith and unfaithfulness, murder and revenge, love unrequited and love lost — and in the process helped ignite the folk song revival of the mid-20th century, died on Monday at her home in Berea, Ky. She was 92. Hers was not a trained voice, but it was a splendidly traditional one: high, sweet, lyrical and plaintive, accompanied by the Appalachian fretted dulcimer she had learned to play as a girl. By the time she left Kentucky, Ms. Ritchie had learned more than 300 songs by osmosis, many of them old ballads like “Barbara Allen” and “Lord Randall” that had been carried to Appalachia by settlers from the British Isles. She became a collector of folk songs and an authority on their origin, performance practice and regional variants.
  • Karen Ellis - Guavaberry Books
    Domino - Traditional Children's Songs, Proverbs, and Culture U.S.V.I.
  • Joel Bernstein Photographer, Archivist, American Culture Keeper
  • Tossi Aaron Author, Publisher, Orff Teacher, Founder of PAOSA. early leader in AOSA, passed away on March 20, 2018 -- Performer and Here, the early days
  • David Goldenberg, pharmacist, record collector and film preservationist who accumulated a trove of more than 10,000 classic recordings and early-movie sound tracks.
  • MOVIE - O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? learn about the song OH DEATH and the interesting people who recorded it.
  • Song Catcher these songs - these ballads literally changed the course of pop music, the African rhythms joined up with melodic Irish fiddle tunes and ballads and it produced a real variety of sounds.