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Broadcast-Related Materials: Resources in the American Folklife Center

This research guide focuses on radio and television broadcast recordings; scripts and other manuscripts; and related ethnographic documentation, as found in the collections of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.


Carl Fleischhauer, photographer. WHHV radio; Hillsville. Stage manager (operations mgr?) Russ Pomerory. 1978. Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

This guide provides an introduction to doing research on broadcast-related materials in the American Folklife Center collections. The collections include documentation of radio and television programming including audio and visual recordings, scripts, photographs, and other materials. The American Folklife Center has been producing events for webcast since it began experimenting with this medium in 2000 and now regularly produces programming for various forms of internet broadcast, such as online videos and podcasts. Internet broadcasts produced by others are increasingly included among the collections (browse related event videos available online).

Many American Folklife Center collections include documentation related to broadcasting. Examples include the "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews and "Dear Mr. President" Collections in which people were interviewed for their reactions to the entry of the United States into World War II. Portions of these recordings were used in radio broadcasts. The Center for Applied Linguistics Collection includes two historic speeches, one by Jack Dempsey and one by Eleanor Roosevelt, that were used in radio broadcasts. Alan Lomax recordings of radio broadcasts made during Lomax's long career are among the collections. Alan Lomax Radio-Related Materials, 1939-1969: A Guide (PDF) provides a detailed list of these collections and their radio-related contents. Recordings of some examples of these have been made available online through a partnership with the the Lomax Digital Archive External. The Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project includes documentation of WHHV programs.Other American Folklife Center field projects include recordings of radio broadcasts related to news about the ongoing project or of examples of local cultural programs.

While the American Folklife Center collections do not have as many examples of television programs as radio, there are some examples of television broadcasts and video made for broadcast. The majority are shows featuring the American Folklife Center and/or staff members. Some researchers include copies of broadcasts featuring their work among their collections. Perhaps most unusual is a rare early television video of The Flatt and Scruggs show No. 383, No. 384 [videorecording] / WSM-TV made in 1968. A copy may be viewed in the American Folklife Center Reading Room.

The following guide offers general research strategies for use of the American Folklife Center collections.