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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

Library of Congress: American Folklife Center

Introductory Information

Library of Congress: American Folklife Center

Address: 101 Independence Ave. SE, Thomas Jefferson Building, room LJ-G31, Washington, DC 20540-4610

Telephone number: 202-707-5510

Contact information

Online catalog

Digital Collections link

Access Policies

Hours of service

Open to the public: Yes

Interlibrary loan: No

Reference policy

Background note
A Library of Congress Reader Registration card is required to use Library of Congress reading rooms. To obtain a registration card, applicants must be 16 years of age or older and present photo identification bearing a verifiable permanent address. Please see Reader Registration and Access to Library of Congress Reading Rooms for more information.


The American Folklife Center's collections often intermingle archives, manuscripts, recordings, and images. The best way to get a sense for their holdings is to view their guide:

Vernacular Religious Expression: Resources in the American Folklife Center

Vertical files

The Folklife Reading Room vertical file has folders with clippings and other miscellaneous materials under the following headings:

African-American Music: "Negro Spirituals"; American Indian: Ghost Dance; Christmas Carols; Christian Harmony (folk hymnal); Church of the Brethren; Church services; Folk hymn; Folk masses; Folk religion; Gospel; Gospel music; Gregorian chant; Hanukkah; Hymnody; Hymns; Hutterite; Islamic; Jewish; Kwanzaa; Mennonite; Menorah; Myth; Nestorian; "Program on the History of Hymnology in America"; Quaker; Religion; Religious folksong and lore; Resurrection; Ritual and sacred narratives; Ritual songs; Rites of passage; Sacred Harp (hymnal); Saints; Salvation Army bands; Santería; Sephardic Jews; Sephardic songs; Sermons; Scopes trial; Shakers; Voodoo.

There are also entries in the vertical file under the names of well-known folk hymns and gospel songs, e.g. "Ezekiel Saw the Wheel," "Hail Glorious Apostle."

Databases and/or electronic resources

Digital collections

Subject Headings

African Americans--Religion; Amish; Baptists; Buddhism; Catholic Church; Church music--Brazil; Church music--Jamaica; Church music--United States; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Church services; Fire handling; Folk religion; Folklore; Hopi Indians--Religion; Hymns and hymnals; Islam; Judaism; Kwanzaa; Mennonites; Poison handling; Prayer; Religious education; Revivals; Ritual; Russian Orthodox Church; Sermons; Seventh-day Adventists; Snake handling; Spiritual healing; Spirituals; Witchcraft