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American Folklife Center Collections: Russia

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting Russian expressive culture in Russia and the United States in the collections of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.


Joseph Czarnecki, photographer. Father Konstantin of the Russian Church, Cassville, New Jersey. 1983. Pinelands Folklife Project Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

American Folklife Center collections documenting Russian peoples in Russia and the United States represent the diversity of their expressive culture. Among these materials are collections documenting the Old Believers in Russia and the United States, Molokans in California, traditions of Jews who emmigrated from Russia to the United States, and Russian Orthodox Christian communities in the United States. Asian Russian traditions are represented by Khalmyk-American and by performances and interviews with Tuvan musicians. American Folklife Center documentary projects produced collections documenting the Russian community in Chicago, as well as a Russian school in North Dakota (links to online collections may be found in the additional collections of interest listed below). Featured is American Folklife Center documentation of the Russian Orthodox Church and community in Southeastern New Jersey as part of the Pinelands Folklife Project.

Pinelands Folklife Project Collection

The Pinelands Folklife Project collection represents the culmination of a three-year effort to identify and record the cultural traditions in and around the Pinelands National Reserve in the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey in the mid-1980s. The collection comprises ethnographic documentation which examines the relationship between the local culture and the surrounding environment. It contains the administrative records, planning documents, and published materials related to the management of the field project. Includes documentation of the Russian community.

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.

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Public Programming

The Alash Ensemble are masters of Tuvan throat singing, a remarkable technique for singing multiple pitches at the same time. Masters of traditional Tuvan instruments as well as the art of throat singing, Alash are deeply committed to traditional Tuvan music and culture. At the same time, they are fans of western music. Believing that traditional music must constantly evolve, the musicians subtly infuse their songs with western elements, creating their own unique style that is fresh and new, yet true to their Tuvan musical heritage. All members of Alash were trained in traditional Tuvan music since childhood, first learning from their families, and later becoming students of master throat singers. Bady-Dorzhu Ondar performs vocals and plays igil and guitar. Ayan-ool Sam performs vocals and plays doshpuluur, igil and guitar. Ayan Shirizhik performs vocals and plays kengirge, shyngyrash, shoor, murgu and xomus. Sean Quirk is the interpreter and manager of the group. The ensemble is named for the Alash River, which runs through the northwestern region of Tuva. (Event date: March 27, 2019)

Additional Public Programming