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The collections held by the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress comprise cultural documentation of folk and traditional culture from six continents, every U.S. state and territory, and the District of Columbia. Additionally, AFC staff maintain reference resources that provide descriptive access to our collections; create digital publications such as blogs or podcasts that offer interpretation and context for our collections; and produce public programming that augments collection materials.
These geographic guides offer entry points into the above resources, and draw on the collective knowledge and expertise of the AFC staff.
Multi-ethnic societies provide a rich array of cultural expressions—song, language, dance, materials, foodways, verbal arts—whether retentions or newly formed traditions. American Folklife Center collections from Canada document this diversity. Among its unique materials are First Nations language recordings, songs of Irish immigrant fishermen, and Yiddish songs from Montreal.
The Center for Applied Linguistics Collection contains 118 hours of recordings documenting North American English dialects. The recordings include speech samples, linguistic interviews, oral histories, conversations, and excerpts from public speeches. They were drawn from various archives, and from the private collections of fifty collectors, including linguists, dialectologists, and folklorists. They were submitted to the Center for Applied Linguistics as part of a project entitled "A Survey and Collection of American English Dialect Recordings," which was funded by the Center for Applied Linguistics and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The interview below features a woman from Nass Valley in northern British Columbia. The interview was designed to elicit dialect, but has ethnographic value as she identifies as Nisga'a, and speaks about life in the area, fishing, the cannery, social life, and the local Chinese and Japanese immigrants.
The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.
With a style perpetually galvanized by darkness and haunting northern beauty, sisters, Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik and Kayley Inuksuk Mackay, come together to create Inuit style throat singing duo, PIQSIQ. Performing ancient traditional songs and eerie new compositions, they endeavor to leave their listeners enthralled with the infinity of possible answers to the question "what is the meaning of life." With roots in Nunavut, the two grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. After years of forging hard won skill, they developed their own form blended with haunting melodies and otherworldly sounds. Approaching adulthood, they realized throat singing was not only a musical expression, but a radical, political act of cultural revitalization.