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Serbia and the Serbian Collections in the Library of Congress

American Folklife Center

Serbian peasants and citizens of a counry town. Lady Georgina Mary Muir (Mackenzie) Sebright. Travels in the Slavonic provinces of Turkey-in-Europe. Volume 1, 1877. Library of Congress General Collections.

The American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress collects and documents folklife and traditional culture from the United States and around the world. Originally concentrating on folk music in the 1920s, the American Folklife Center now collects ethnographic materials in many formats. Some of those collections and materials are Serbian in origin or content.

The Alan Lomax collection of Michigan and Wisconsin recordings is a rich source of folk music from various American ethnic groups including Serbian with over a dozen of the recordings in Serbian and freely available on the Library of Congress website, and with some other materials accessible only onsite at the American Folklife Center.

The American Folklife Center frequently sponsors lectures and performances on folk culture. In 2008 in the Coolidge Auditorium the Library of Congress recorded the Bajich Brothers of Kansas playing traditional Tambura music. The family also performed the kolo, a Serbian circle dance. The collection associated with this concert includes sound and video recordings of the concert as well as photographs taken during the performance.

Other collections containing Serbian content are the Barbara Krader collection of Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian music with 8 sound reels of folk music, and the George W. Tressel collection, containing 10 tape reels of music at a "Balkan cafe" in Chicago, Illinois, in 1954.

To locate additional Serbian material in the Folklife Center you can use a filter in an advanced search of the Library's catalog. For example, use the search terms "Serbia" or "Serbian" and limit your location to the American Folklife Center for archival collections and to the American Folklife Reference Collection for books in the AFC reference collection. For further information about the Serbian content held by the American Folklife Center, contact them directly.

Besides the selected special collections in the American Folklife Center mentioned above, the Library of Congress collects in depth published books and periodicals on the folk ways of other countries, including Serbia. Those materials are part of the vast general collections and may be identified using the Library of Congress online catalog. Staff of the European Reading Room are happy to help researchers locate published materials on Serbian folklife.

Below are two featured recordings from the Alan Lomax collection of Michigan and Wisconsin recordings: Performers: Pajo Tomić and Ilija Sainović.

About the American Folklife Center

The American Folklife Center was created in 1976 by the U.S. Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibitions, publications, and training. Designated by the U.S. Congress as the national center for folklife documentation and research, the American Folklife Center continues to collect and document living traditional culture, while preserving for the future its unparalleled collections in the state-of-the-art preservation facilities of the Library of Congress.