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Bosnia & Herzegovina and the Bosnian Collections in the Library of Congress

American Folklife Center

The Market Place, Sarajevo, from Through Bosnia and Herzegovina with a paint brush by Mrs. Edward Robson Whitwell. 1909. Library of Congress General Collections.

The American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress collects and documents folklife and traditional culture from the United States and around the world. Originally concentrating on folk music in the 1920s, the American Folklife Center now collects ethnographic materials in many formats. Some of those collections and materials are Bosnian in origin or content.

The Denise Bowles-Johnson, Elizabeth Kostova, Vlasta Maric, and Laura Olson Collection of Central Bosnian Music contains twenty-eight cassettes forming a study entitled "Non-Professional Music in Central Bosnia, 1989: Singing and Instrumental Music in Village, City, and Church Contexts." The recordings include an Orthodox Mass from Sarajevo, a Serbian Orthodox Mass, a Catholic Velika Gospa (holiday Mass), a Serbian wedding party, recordings by Ivanka Ekmečić, Emsura Hamzić-Sladoje, Miko and Bosa Lohinski, Dragomir Nakaradić, Mara and Marta Mišković, Muharem Skrozo, and others. Recordings are from Sarajevo, Železnik, Ozren, Medakovo, Jevadije, Mostar, Omanjska, and Novi Miljanovci. The collectors were interested in creating a sampler of non-professional music-making, with an emphasis on vocal music, in Central Bosnia and to learn repertoire for performance by Rozmarin, a singing ensemble in the U.S.

The Karl Signell / "Music in a New World" Collection offers excerpts of interviews, narrations, songs, and stories, including examples of Bosnian music, recorded by Karl Signell, February-April, 1981. The collection was intended as a preview of the "Music in a New World" series for National Public Radio. Another collection containing Bosnian content is the Barbara Krader collection of Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian music with 8 sound reels of folk music from a festival of folk songs and dances held in Opatija, Croatia, September 9-13, 1951.

Besides music recordings, the American Folklife Center holds over 100 oral histories from U.S. soldiers who served as peacekeepers in Bosnia as part of the Veterans History Project. These narratives are freely available on the Library of Congress website.

To locate Bosnian material in the Folklife Center you can use a filter in an advanced search of the Library's catalog. For example, use the search terms "Bosnia" or "Bosnian" and limit your location to the American Folklife Center for archival collections and to the American Folklife Reference Collection for books in the AFC reference collection. For further information about the Bosnian content held by the American Folklife Center, contact them directly and see their online collection guides.

Besides the selected special collections in the American Folklife Center mentioned above, the Library of Congress collects in depth published books and periodicals on the folk ways of other countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those materials are part of the vast general collections and may be identified using the Library of Congress online catalog. Staff of the European Reading Room are happy to help researchers locate published materials on Bosnian and Herzegovinian folklife.

About the American Folklife Center

The American Folklife Center was created in 1976 by the U.S. Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibitions, publications, and training. Designated by the U.S. Congress as the national center for folklife documentation and research, the American Folklife Center continues to collect and document living traditional culture, while preserving for the future its unparalleled collections in the state-of-the-art preservation facilities of the Library of Congress.