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American Folklife Center Collections: Oklahoma

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


Midway with departing crowd, Carson & Barnes Circus, 1965. Original image held by interviewee. Image associated with Martha Moore Henderson and Michael Moore interview conducted by Tanya Ducker Finchum and Juliana M. Nykolaiszyn. 2011. The "Big Top" Show Goes On: Archie Green Fellows Project, 2011-2012. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

American Folklife Center collections from Oklahoma document expressive culture from nearly every corner of the state. From the cylinder recordings of Absentee Shawnee, Sauk, and Kickapoo songs and spoken word gathered by Truman Michelson in the early 1910s to the dialect samples assembled in the early 1960s to the oral history interviews of wintering circus workers in Hugo, Oklahoma, between 2011 and 2015, the collections document many aspects of Oklahoma history.

Particularly noteworthy are the large collections of tribal recordings made in the state by recordists such as Willard Rhodes, Vincent McMullen, Kenneth Croft, Frank Speck, Jason Baird Jackson and Victoria Lindsay-Levine, plus the "Indians for Indians" collection of radio programs broadcast on WNAD-Norman between 1943 and 1950. The latter program is the feature of an exhibition at the University of Oklahoma in fall 2019, with a companion website of many of the programs.

Collections here represent two members of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame: Woody Guthrie, named in 2006, and Vida Chenoweth, inducted in 1985. The Folklife Center has recordings and correspondence by Guthrie, and the entire collection of field recordings made by Chenoweth and her students in various parts of the world.

Occupational Folklife Project

The Occupational Folklife Project began in 2010 as a multi-year project by the American Folklife Center to document the culture of contemporary American workers during an era of economic and social transition. To date, fieldworkers across the United States have recorded more than 900 audio and audiovisual oral history interviews with workers in scores of trades, industries, crafts, and professions. The completed interviews have been incorporated into the American Folklife Center archive at the Library of Congress.

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 Programming

View the concert performed by D. J. Battiest-Tomasi and Tim Tingle in the Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress on June 29, 2011 as part of the Homegrown concert series sponsored by the American Folklife Center. D. J. Battiest-Tomasi and Tim Tingle are enrolled members of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and regularly participate in tribal events, as well as performing professionally on American Indian flutes; both are accomplished storytellers.