American Folklife Center collections documenting Greek culture represent the diversity of its expressive culture in Greece and the United States. Among its unique collections are two projects recording Greek music and song in Florida (both available in the online presentation Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942 from links in the Additional Collections of Interest below), documentation of storytelling, poetry, and song by James A. Notopoulos in the 1950s,
Benjamin Jackson's recordings of Greek festival music recorded in Greece and Macedonia, the American Folklife Center's Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project with documentation of two Greek schools, and the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection described below.
The Chicago Ethnic Arts Project survey was conducted in 1977 by the American Folklife Center at the request of the Illinois Arts Council to assess and document the status of ethnic art traditions in more than twenty ethnic communities in Chicago, and was jointly sponsored by both organizations.
The collection includes documentation of Greek culture, traditional music, religious traditions, foodways, needle crafts, and more.
Part of the documentation focuses on activities of members and clergy of the St. Andrews Greek Orthodox Church.
The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.
Sophia Bilides sings and plays santouri (Greek hammered dulcimer) and zilia (finger cymbals). Smyrneika songs arose out an urban population where the music of Greeks, Turks, Jews, and Armenians influenced each other in the early decades of the 20th century. This vibrant cultural scene was shattered when conflicts led to the 1922 Asia-Minor Catastrophe. The destruction of the port city of Smyrna (Izmir) led to the expulsion of two million Greeks from their homeland. Fortunately, highly skilled refugee musicians managed to keep alive their urban musical traditions by bringing their cosmopolitan talents to the Greek mainland and to America. (Event date: August 24, 2011)