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American Folklife Center Collections: Rhode Island

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


Thomas Burns, photographer. Sand sculpture of Christ on the cross,Matuneck Beach, Rhode Island. Rhode Island Folklife Project collection, 1979 (AFC 1991/022 RI79-TB-25). Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

The American Folklife Center contains rich and varied materials from Rhode Island reflecting the diversity of the state's traditions. Among its audio recordings are the Helen Hartness Flanders and Eloise Hubbard Linscott collections of folk music from New England recorded in the 1930s-40s. In 1979, the Center conducted the Rhode Island Folklife Project, surveying folk cultural activities throughout the state. In 1982, the Center's Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools Project highlighted a Ukrainian school in Woonsocket. More recently, photographer Markham Starr has documented occupational folklife in the Rhode Island maritime industries.

Rhode Island Folklife Project Collection

The Rhode Island Folklife Project collection resulted from a field survey project of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, conducted in cooperation with the Rhode Island Heritage Commission, the Rhode Island Council on the Arts, and the Rhode Island Historical Society from July 15 to December 31, 1979.

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.

Public Programming

Irish step dancer Kevin Doyle of Barrington, R.I., first learned Irish step dancing as a child from his mother, who learned the steps from her mother in Ireland's County Roscommon. From the age of ten, Doyle competed successfully in many East Coast feis (competitions), earning U.S. Irish Dance Champion honors. He teaches and performs with Rhode Island Celtic music performers Pendragon, folk performers Atwater-Donnelly and international Irish dance ensemble Atlantic Steps. Doyle is a recipient of a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. He performs with an all-star lineup of Irish musicians, including 2013 Heritage Fellow Séamus Connolly.