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Shape-Note Singing: Resources in the American Folklife Center

Related Online Resources

Through blog posts, podcasts and videos presentations of public programs and concerts, you can learn more about the American Folklife Center's collections directly from folklorists, specialists, and performers.

Folklife Today Blog

Folklife Today is a blog for people interested in folklore, folklife, and oral history. The blog features brief articles on folklife topics, highlighting the unparalleled collections of the Library of Congress, especially the American Folklife Center and the Veterans History Project.

Highlighted Blog Posts

The highlighted blog posts below focus on the topic of "shape-note singing.”

American Folklife Center Podcasts

Discover the treasures of the Library through its experts and special guests. Find full podcast series produced by the American Folklife Center by following the links below.

Highlighted Podcasts

The selected podcasts below focus on the topic of shape-note singing in the American Folklife Center collections.

Public Programs

Since its inception in 1976, the American Folklife Center has routinely hosted public programs at the Library of Congress in the form of concerts, lectures, panels, and symposia. From 2006 on, most of these public programs have been video recorded and made available online.

Playlists and Series

There are a number of playlists available on the YouTube page that gather videos from certain seasons of our Homegrown Concert series External or pull together various lectures as a sampler External of the types of topics covered. You can also simply search "folklife" on the YouTube page External to pull up hundreds of videos.

It is also possible to view entire series of American Folklife Center videos on the Library's website. Those links are provided below. Many (if not all) of the same videos can be found on the Library's YouTube channel.

Highlighted Public Programs


In this 2010 Botkin lecture, David Warren Steel, associate professor of music and southern culture at the University of Mississippi, discusses his book, The Makers of the Sacred Harp, published by the University of Illinois Press. (Event date: October 21, 2010)



Margaret Kruesi from the American Folklife Center provides a brief history of the collection of religious songs from the United States, including a history of shape-note singing with visual tutorial of the notation. (Event date: June 14, 2012)



Kluge Fellow Douglas Harrison examines the history, performance culture and role of southern gospel music within evangelical Christian experiences. His talk includes a section on shape-note music, particularly of the invention of the seven note method that occurred in Southern singing schools. (Event date: August 14, 2014)



Nathan Salsburg of the Association for Cultural Equity explores two key undertakings from this aspect of Lomax's career, his 1959 "Southern Journey" field-recording trip and its later ancillary, the American Patchwork video recording project (1978-1985). While shape-note singing is briefly mentioned, Lomax's fieldwork was essential in capturing the Sacred Harp tradition. (Event date: June 10, 2015)