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American Folklife Center Collections: Maryland

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the state of Maryland at the Library of Congress.


Mary Sheppard Burton, artist. The Secret Place Alice Phipps (1896-1928). This hooked rug showing a girl reading in a cherry tree was made by Burton in memory of her mother. Mary Sheppard Burton Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

The collections of the American Folklife Center contain rich and varied materials from Maryland that document the diversity of the state's traditions. Among its unique recordings are spirituals from labor camps dating from the 1940s; narratives of migrant workers and former slaves; folklore, folk music, and oral histories from the Eastern Shore; the Dorothy Howard Collection about Western Maryland; and interviews with local crafts people, including rug makers and decoy carvers, and Gerald E. Parson's documentation of the traditions of Maryland watermen. Video collections include oral history interviews of Maryland residents. Video recorded events hosted by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress include a variety of speakers presenting topics related to Maryland as well as performances by Maryland artists. The most recent of the event videos are available online.

Mary Sheppard Burton Collection

The Mary Sheppard Burton Collection was acquired by the American Folklife Center in March 2006. The centerpiece of the collection is a set of twelve beautiful hooked rugs made by Maryland artist Mary Sheppard Burton. The rugs comprise a series entitled Tell Me ’Bout, and each relates a personal narrative about the Burton family.

Although the American Folklife Center rarely acquires three-dimensional objects, an exception was made in this case because of the compelling nature of Mary Sheppard Burton's rugs, particularly their use in telling stories that have been passed down in her family.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

Blog Posts and Podcasts

Public Programming

A concert by Phil Wiggins and Friends, a blues and dance group including Phil Wiggins (harmonica), Rick Franklin (guitar and vocals) Marcus Moore (violin) and Junious Brickhouse (dance). Library of Congress, August 6, 2014.

Additional Public Programming