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Higher Education Resources Available in the American Folklife Center

Online Resources

Lucy M. Long, photographer. Kindergarten, First Korean School, Silver Spring, Maryland. 1982. Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

While patrons are always welcome to visit the American Folkilfe Center in person, we understand that it is not always possible. Luckily, the AFC has made available a wide array of online resources that can be explored remotely. We invite you to search our online collections, including recorded concerts, symposia and speaker series, as well as our Folkilfe Today Blog and Podcast.

Below are links to materials from the American Folklife Center online at the Library of Congress and beyond. You will find collection materials, mainly primary-source documentation such as audio recordings, photographs and manuscripts. You will also find curated content and analysis, such as lectures about our materials, exhibits, and concerts at which musicians interpret archival recordings. These provide context and analysis for archival materials, which are both useful in teaching.

If you would like further assistance navigating the various pages, AFC reference staff are available to help via our Ask A Librarian service.

The Library of Congress hosts a growing number of collections online. These collections are accessible via the Library of Congress website through the Digital Collections site.

Below are Research Guides to AFC collections, curated by AFC librarians and folklorists for geographical and topical research. Please refer to the introductory guide, "Accessing Ethnographic Collections at the Library of Congress" for additional assistance.

Area Studies and Library of Congress Reading Rooms

Additional online resources and guides can be found via our Area Studies and Special Collections Reading Rooms. Please refer to the research guides below for both area studies and special formats:

Special Formats and Initiatives

David Alan Taylor, photographer. Cambodian musicians at the home of Sorn Veuk, Lowell, Massachusetts. 1987. Lowell Folklife Project collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

Story Maps serve to promote engaging and meaningful uses of the collections of the Library and AFC. As a platform, Story Maps connect digitized collection items, such as photographs, audio recordings, and other materials, bringing them into relationships with each other, where their histories, meanings, and cultural contexts can be more clearly shared and explored. The AFC story maps guide users into the Center’s online collections, providing navigable paths based on certain themes, including WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, and blues and jazz traditions in 1977 Chicago.

Below is a selected list of web archives related to the American Folklife Center's Collections. Web Archives refer to online content captured in place and preserved for future generations to view as they existed in context. Archived websites are not snapshots or images of the web, rather it is the webpage itself, including embedded and dynamic content when available.

The Library's Geography and Map Division has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5 million maps, 100,000 atlases, 8,000 reference works, over 5000 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, over 130,000 microfiche/film, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats. Many of these materials have been digitized and are available online. Materials that have not been digitized are available from the Geography and Map Reading Room.

Robert Hemming, photographer. Charles Todd at the recording machine surrounded by a group of Mexican boys and men. 1941. Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Workers Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

The audio recordings represented in this catalog of early field recordings, also known as the Traditional Music and Spoken Word Catalog, were recorded between 1897 and 1962. The majority are lacquer and aluminum-based instantaneous disc recordings made between 1933 and 1950.

The card catalog represented in this online database was first created by Work Projects Administration (WPA) workers in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and continued by the Archive of Folk Song (now part of the American Folklife Center) staff into the early 1960s. Its purpose was to provide the public with access to the thousands of individual songs, tunes, folk tales, sermons, monologues, and life stories in the AFC collections.

Included are the seminal field recordings associated with John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax's Library of Congress collecting work (Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Jelly Roll Morton), and Alan Lomax's less well-known field collections in Haiti in 1936 to 1937 and in the upper Midwest of the United States in 1938. There are hundreds of well-known and lesser-known treasures by other notable collectors including Herbert Halpert, Zora Neale Hurston, Henrietta Yurchenco, Vance Randolph, and Helen Creighton, among many others. The catalog also reflects exchange projects with institutions outside the United States, notably the Discoteca Pública Municipal de São Paulo Collection (1938-1943) of field recordings from Brazil; and field recordings collected in Oceania. The researcher may encounter duplicate or multiple cards for some of the non-English recordings in this catalog. The researcher should also be aware that for some non-English recordings from this period, no cards were made. We hope to expand the catalog in the future and add the bibliographic data for the sound recordings that are now represented only as "Spanish" or "Foreign."

The physical card catalog in the AFC Reading Room is searchable only by title, performer, state (if U.S.), shelflist number , or country/language (other than English). The online version of the catalog searches these areas plus recording dates, recordist's names, and many others. Our plans are to continue to increase access to individually recorded items in our collections and to grow this database beyond just the cards represented in this online catalog to other collections in the Archive.