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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.
American Folklife Center collections documenting Chinese cultures represent the diversity of its expressive culture in China and the United States. Among its unique collections are documentation of various styles of Chinese opera theater; examples of traditional papercutting; videos of Chinese storytellers in Yangzhou, China; and documentation of a Chinese school in Texas done as part of the American Folklife Center's Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project.
The Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project was conducted in 1982 by the American Folklife Center to survey selected religious and secular ethnic community-based schools conducted, at least in part, in a language other than English to document the continued ethnolinguistic and cultural diversity of the United States. The collection includes documentation of the San Saba School (Chinese school) in San Antonio, Texas, as well as a parade in the community.
The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.
The Chinatown opera theater provided Chinese immigrants in North America with an essential source of entertainment during the pre–World War II era. Its compelling stories of legends, passions and warriors also attracted diverse patrons into Chinese American communities. In this presentation, Professor Nancy Yunhwa Rao unmasks a backstage world of performers, performances, and repertoire as well as the spellbound audiences beyond the footlights. She discusses how the circulation of stellar actors and actresses created a vibrant performing network of Cantonese opera in North America during the 1920s, and also explores how Chinatown theaters played a role in constructing Chinese American identities as well as in the birth of ultra-modern music in America. (Event date: August 9, 2017)