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AFS Review: News

AFS Awarded Grant for National Project to Digitize Folklore Archival Collections

Friday, January 11, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Meredith McGriff

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has awarded a “Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives” grant to the American Folklore Society. AFS will lead a 15-month project, in partnership with the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries (IUBL), that will digitize 13 folklore collections from the Vermont Folklife Center and the University of Oregon Folklore and Public Culture Program’s Archives of Northwest Folklore, with support from UO Libraries. These collections will be openly available online through the AFS’s Folklore Collections Database ( and through their home repositories. These digitized collections will also be discoverable through the Open Folklore portal ( managed by AFS and IUBL.

The team for this project will include: two co-PIs (AFS Executive Director Dr. Jessica Turner and Senior Advisor for Partnerships Dr. Timothy Lloyd); two Advisory Committee members from our community of repositories (folklore archivists Andy Kolovos and Steve Green, who have served in this role since the inception of the AFS folklore archives project in 2011); an Advisory

Committee member from the archival staff of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (archivist and folklorist Kelly Revak); a contracted Media Digitization Coordinator, who will oversee and track work on the project; archivists from our two partner repositories; and several personnel from two IUBL divisions: Digital Collections Services and Library Technologies.

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. The Digitizing Hidden Collections program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


More on AFS’s archival projects:

This CLIR-funded project is the fourth in a series of linked projects AFS has carried out to respond to some of the most critical needs of folklore archives identified in our 2000 “Folk Heritage Collections in Crisis” conference:

1. We developed the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus (2004-2008), a controlled vocabulary for describing folklore archival collections, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and now one of the Library of Congress’s official name authorities, available via its Linked Data Service at

2. We developed and continue to maintain Open Folklore (OF; 2009-present), a web-based portal for integrated search of and access to folklore scholarship available online, hosted by IUBL at

3. We developed and continue to maintain the Folklore Collections Database (FCD; 2011-present), an online database providing open access to metadata about our community's folklore archival collections. The FCD was created with National Endowment for the Humanities support and is also hosted by IUBL at

This new effort will create digital versions of the 13 selected collections, and will build the capability for the FCD to present the collections themselves—not just metadata about them—openly online. Oregon and Vermont will also make these collections available openly online themselves. We plan to submit future proposals to digitize and make available more collections from our core community of 24 folklore archives in academic programs, non-profit organizations, and state government agencies nationwide.


Collections to be Digitized through the CLIR Hidden Collections Award:

University of Oregon Folklore and Public Culture Program’s Archives of Northwest Folklore (2 collections), with support from UO Libraries:

Student Folklore Fieldwork Collections, 1970-1979; and Student Folklore Documentary Video Productions, 1985-2013: Student folklore fieldwork collections and student folklore documentary videos documenting expressive culture in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The multi-format, ethnographic collections document the customary beliefs, social practices, and material traits of cultural, religious, occupational and ethnic groups throughout Oregon and the Northwest. Many of the collections reflect diverse viewpoints and document minority communities, including Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest; Asian Americans in Oregon; and African Americans.

Vermont Folklife Center (11 collections):

  • The New England Storytelling Project Collection: Documents a 1998-2004 research initiative that explored regional culture, occupational practices, and traditional arts across Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont
  • Always in Season Video Series: A series of video recordings with six Vermont and New
  • Hampshire folk artists
  • Educated Hands: Video project documenting the work of New Hampshire basketmaker and NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipient Newt Washburn
  • Lake Champlain Project: Vermont Folklife Center folklorist Gregory Sharrow revisited Lake Champlain to explore the waterway’s place in the culture of the region, and its economic and recreational impact on Vermont, New York and southern Quebec
  • Legacy of the Lake: An extensive collection of interviews with individuals who lived and worked on or around Lake Champlain
  • Lure of the Lake: Interviews conducted as a part of developing an exhibition on the cultural heritage of Lake Champlain
  • Ticonderoga: Interviews exploring the history of the Lake Champlain side-wheel paddle steamboat Ticonderoga
  • Vermont Arts Council Barre Sculptors Project: Nine interviews conducted with stone sculptors in Barre, Vermont
  • Vermont Arts Council Diversity Project: Thirteen interviews conducted in July and August 2003 to identify artists in the state from underrepresented cultural communities
  • Vermont Arts Council Immigrant and Refugee Project: Interviews conducted in 2004-2006 to identify artists from immigrant and refugee groups in Vermont
  • Visit’n Collection: Interviews conducted from 1994-2003 to support the publication of nine volumes of the Vermont Folklife Center’s annual serial, Visit’n


Our Core Community of Folklore Archives:

  • Alliance for California Traditional Arts
  • Archive of Alabama Folk Culture, Alabama Center for Traditional Culture
  • Center for Pennsylvania Culture Studies, Pennsylvania State University
  • Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, University of Wisconsin
  • City Lore, New York City
  • Connecticut Historical Society
  • Indiana University Folklore Archives
  • Louisiana State University Libraries Special Collections Division (for the Louisiana Folklife Program)
  • Massachusetts Archives (for the Massachusetts Folk Arts and Heritage Program)
  • Maine Folklife Center, University of Maine
  • Maryland State Arts Council
  • Michigan State University Museum
  • Missouri Folk Arts Program
  • Northern Virginia Folklife Archives, George Mason University
  • Ohio State University Center for Folklore Studies Archives
  • Philadelphia Folklore Project
  • SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments) Archives, Los Angeles
  • TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York)
  • University of Oregon Archives of Northwest Folklore
  • Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections Division (for the Fife Folklore Archive)
  • Vermont Folklife Center
  • Western Folklife Center, Elko, Nevada
  • Western Kentucky University Library, Special Collections, Manuscripts, and Folklife Archives
  • University of Wyoming American Heritage Center

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