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American Folklife Center Collections: Minnesota

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


Joan R. Haglund, artist. 1996 Minnesota State Winner. Lands' End All-American Quilt Collection (AFC 1997/011). Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

American Folklife Center collections from Minnesota document the diversity of its expressive culture. Beginning with Alice Fletcher's recordings of swift Flying Feather, a member of the Leech Lake delegation to Washington D.C. in January 1899, and continuing with Frances Densmore's extensive cylinder recordings of Chippewa singers on four Minnesota reservations between 1907-1912, the Minnesota archival collections include substantive documentation of its Native people.

In addition, both Euroamerican and African American song traditions were recorded by collectors throughout the 20th century, many at festivals both within the state and elsewhere. Finnish-American music by Minnesota performers, for example, was recorded at the 1939 National Folk Festival in Chicago.

Other collections include a Dutch/Russian Mennonite funeral from 1950; an African American Baptist service recorded in Minneapolis in 1968; as well as interviews with people of Croatian, Serbian, and Slovenian descent from Minnesota's Iron Range recorded in 1977 and 1983.

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

"Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946," a 2013 Botkin Lecture by James Leary, University of Wisconsin, discusses the 1930s-1940s field recordings of Alan Lomax, Sidney Robertson Cowell, and Helene Stratman-Thomas in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, in which areas a staggering array of indigenous, immigrant, and enslaved peoples have collectively maintained, merged, and modified their folk song traditions for more than two centuries.