|David A. Taylor|
DAVID A. TAYLOR, Head of Research and Programs, American Folklife Center (AFC); Head of Acquisitions (AFC); Director of Field School for Cultural Documentation (AFC)
PhD and MA in Folklore (Memorial University of Newfoundland), BA in Anthropology (University of Maine). It has been my privilege to work at the American Folklife Center for the past 23 years. At present, my work includes directing field documentation projects; planning symposia, concerts, lectures and other public programs; providing technical and reference assistance to professional colleagues and the general public; and supervising the 7-member staff of the AFC’s Programs Section. I also serve as Head of Acquisitions for AFC's archive, which is the nation's first archive devoted to traditional life and one of the largest repositories of its kind in the world; and I am the founder and director of AFC's annual field school for cultural documentation, which was launched in 1994. I have served as a member of United States delegations to the World Intellectual Property Organization's intergovernmental committee on folklore, traditional knowledge and genetic resources; and hemispheric meetings of UNESCO’s cultural committees; and have represented AFC and the Library of Congress at international cultural symposia and other meetings. Over the course of my years at AFC, I have directed a number of team-based, multi-disciplinary field projects, including the "Italian-Americans in the West Project” (1989-1992), the "Maine Acadian Cultural Survey” (1991), and the "Working in Paterson Project” (1994), and I am currently a member of the team that’s carrying out the Congressional mandates specified in the Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009. Although a great deal of my current work is heavily administrative, I remain keenly interested such research areas as field-research methodology, material culture, maritime culture, and occupational culture. I am an expert on traditional watercraft, and I’m proud that my field research and writing served as the basis for the creation of the award-winning Winterton Boat Building and Community Museum, which has recently expanded to become the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador. Outside of my work at AFC, I am involved with research and writing about European and American decorative arts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My publications include: Northeast Folklore: Essays in Honor of Edward D. Ives (2000), co-editor; Documenting Maritime Folklife: An Introductory Guide (1992); Old Ties, New Attachments: Italian-American Folklife in the West (1992),co-editor; Boatbuilding in Winterton, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland (1982; 2nd ed., 2006); Georg Jensen Hollowware (2003), co-author; Georg Jensen Jewelry (2005), editor; and Shock of the Old: Christopher Dresser’s Design Revolution (2004), contributor.
I believe I can contribute to the AFS Executive Board in a number of ways. One way is by serving as a conduit for information about activities of the Congress and federal agencies that could have an impact on the work of folklorists and the cultural communities they serve. Another way is to serve as liaison between AFS and the American Folklife Center. Over the past few years, a number of important, mutually beneficial partnerships have been forged between AFS and AFC, including work on the Veterans History Project, the Ethnographic Thesaurus Project, the James Francis Carpenter Collection, and the Civil Rights History Project, and it is possible that additional collaborative projects will be developed in the future. Finally, as I look back on my career as a folklorist, I realize that, in addition to the profound impact of my mentors, two factors have shaped my outlook and my practice especially powerfully: solid, hands-on training in fieldwork techniques, which laid a solid foundation for decades of research; and opportunities to meet folklorists and other cultural specialists in their own countries and learn about their cultures and other aspects of the contexts of their work. Because these things have enriched my career immeasurably, I am eager to work with the Board to facilitate opportunities for younger folklorists (particularly at the graduate level) to benefit from similar opportunities.