Folk Life Collections breathing air into primary documentation.

 Preconference Workshop 2 – Thursday – “Chronicling America” Library of Congress Collections

As I found my way to the second pre conference workshop based on folklore and special collections at the Library of Congress, what a revelation! The American Life Folklife Center implements the idea of primary documents in ways that many would not even recognize.

Sr. Folklorist Guhua Shakar, and Oral Histories

Examining the video from Zoharah Simmons, from the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer involving the deaths of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman– reveals the reactions and reflections on race and the extent of discrimination.  The ability to access these records is priceless and Zoharah Simmons’ interview is poignant.

Looking at the abilities of the American Folklife Center to collect the aspects of Cultural Equity, Civil Rights, Expressive Cultures, and the ability to access field notes, letters, manuscripts, live performances, photos, and so many more primary and secondary artifacts.  An examples of one of these exhibits was Herb Ohta.

In looking at oral histories available, looking at projects of Wallace Quarterman (the last remaining freed slave on record), Jelly Roll Morton from 1938, and looking at the culture of Buckaroos from 1982 gives a small, tiny look into the variety that is represented in this collection.

Referencing the Occupational Folklore Project, from the Archie Green Fellowship, many looks at multigenerational African American farms of the Midwest were a unique resource to be worthy of looking into. 

The indigenous perspectives and representation through the Federal Cylinder Project is ASTOUNDING.  Looking at Omaha Indian Music, and the American memory Project, there were some amazing discoveries. Looking at sponsors like the Sustainable Heritage Network, it is offering Cultural Documentation guidelines to help guide people to work on this project and contribute.  Interview guidelines, are provided that help and guide others to continue to contribute to this project as well.

It was also a treasure to see William Saunders’ account of his experience in army life – and again, seeing how racism and how past generations have dealt with, faced, and survived racism is a crucial element of anyone’s education.   This was a GREAT and amazing transition to the Veteran’s History project, and one of the best parts of this project is the fact that the public can play a crucial part of this collection.

With theVeteran’s History Project, and the ability that Owen Rogers from the Library of Congress has enabled the public to be part of this project, I do believe we can all make a huge impact and help with this collection. Former student David Miller’s work should be on the way to the LOC, as I emailed him today. Each of you can help instruct youth with the guides provided to help students learn about archiving and interviewing while contributing to the Library of Congress Veteran’s Project. Any materials or questions you might have about this – can be answered or sent using this email for Mr. Owen Rogers – orog@loc.giv

The Field Guide that is available is one of many documents provided that extend this Library of Congress project beyond a library archive, but one we each can play a vital role in.

I want to say more, but will let this page speak for this project, and it is PERFECT in showing what education should be, learning WHILE doing in every class.

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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