Skip to Main Content

American Folklife Center Collections: North Carolina

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


Lyntha Scott Eiler, photographer. Carrie Severt, Alleghany County, North Carolina (image 18). 1978. Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

The collections of the American Folklife Center contain rich material from North Carolina that documents the state's diverse folk traditions. Among its unique recordings are African American religious services; fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, and guitar music; recordings of folklore dating from the 1940s; and the Joseph S. Hall Great Smoky Mountains Project, which includes recordings of folksongs, narrative, instrumental music, and speech, from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection

The Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project was conducted by the American Folklife Center in cooperation with the National Park Service. Ten folklorists from the American Folklife Center conducted fieldwork in August and September 1978, and collected related materials from 1977 to 1981. The materials were collected for use in designing and improving National Park Service interpretive programs along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The collection consists of sound recordings, video recordings, photographs, manuscripts, sheet music, printed ephemera, artifacts, administrative records, and ethnographers' field notes.The survey examined folklife in and around an area of the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Virginia and North Carolina border. The project documented old-time music, tales, hunting and hunting stories, farming, tobacco cultivation and auctions, vernacular architecture, quilting, foodways (including drying, canning, and baking), religious music and beliefs, as well as dance events featuring square dancing and flatfoot dancing. Recordings and photographs document local music (including concerts, fiddlers' contests, and music in homes), community events, church services and baptisms, local radio programs, and interviews with white and African American residents. The collection includes two American Folklife Center publications based on these materials and a final report presented to the National Park Service: "The Process of Field Research, Final Report on the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project" by Carl Fleischhauer and Charles Wolfe (1981).

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.

Podcasts and Blog Posts

Public Programing

Benton Flippen, one of the icons of old-time fiddling in America, was born and raised in a musical family in Surry County, North Carolina. Born in 1920, Flippen comes from a generation of great players at the epicenter of Southern mountain music. Among his contemporaries were Tommy Jarrell, Fred Cockerham, Kyle Creed and Earnest East, musicians who have influenced countless students of Old Time music. Flippen has been similarly influential, and he received the 1990 North Carolina Folk Heritage Award for being the innovator of a distinctive style of old-time string music. The Smokey Valley Boys consist of Paul Brown on banjo, Verlen Clifton on mandolin, and Frank Bode on guitar. This concert took place at the Library of Congress on August 17, 2005.

Additional Public Programming