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American Folklife Center Collections: Missouri

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


American Folklife Center collections from Missouri document the diversity of its expressive culture. Among its unique recordings are Anglo-American ballads; shape-note singing; jazz performances from Kansas City and St. Louis; fiddle music; Ozark songs and folklore; and Missouri-French songs recorded on cylinders in the 1920s

Dennis Stroughmatt performed at the Library of Congress on June 21, 2012. He was born and raised in southeastern Illinois, is an authority on French Creole music and culture of "Upper Louisiana," aka Illinois-Missouri-Indiana, an area once known as the Louisiana Purchase. By an amazing string of chance events, young Dennis Stroughmatt came upon the descendants of these Midwestern settlers, and he spent over three years in southeast Missouri studying and learning to speak Illinois French Creole, play the fiddle, and sing many of the traditional songs that have permeated the region for over three hundred years. As they say in the hills: "On est toujours icitte: We are still here!"

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.

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The Gannon Family performs Irish music and dance from Missouri. Helen and Patrick Gannon emigrated from Ireland in 1967. Since then, they have brought traditional Irish music, song and dance to thousands of children and families nationwide. They are also accomplished teachers, sharing their tradition each week with more than 100 current students in the St. Louis Irish Arts school of music, song and dance. Their students have won more than 35 all-Ireland championship medals, and 66 Congressional award medals, 14 of which are gold medals. This concert presented three generations of an accomplished musical family. Patrick was the all-Ireland champion on harmonica in 1980 and 1981, and Helen became the first commissioned Irish dance teacher in Missouri in 1987. Helen and Patrick's daughter, Eileen, became all-Ireland champion on Irish harp in 2000, and their son Niall won the senior ensemble (groupai cheoil) competition in 2004. Eileen's husband Kurt plays piano and guitar, and Niall's wife Gretchen is the family's singer. Niall and Gretchen's daughters, Riley and Fiona, are accomplished on fiddle, concertina and whistle. Family friend Tommy Martin, a piper, rounds out the group. November 2006.