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American Folklife Center Collections: Slovak Republic

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


Letter from Alton C. Morris to Carita Doggett Corse, September 5, 1939
Alton C. Morris, author. Letter from Alton C. Morris to Carita Doggett Corse, September 5, 1939. Morris discusses the importance of the Florida project. Florida Folklife from the WPA Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

American Folklife Center collections documenting Slovaks represent the diversity of its expressive culture in the Slovak Republic and the United States. Among its unique collections are recordings of radio programs of broadcasts in the Slovak Republic and the United States. The American Folklife Center's Chicago Ethnic Arts Project included documentation of the Czechoslovakian community in Chicago with interviews with Slovaks. American Folklife Center public programs have included presentations of Slovak music, including a performance by the group Harmonia and a lecture and demonstration of overtone flutes from the Slovak Republic by Bob Rychlik, who was born in Czechoslovakia. The work of Alton C. Morris in Florida during the Great Depression documents Slovaks songs. More about these collections may be found below.

Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections

Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections combines sound recordings and manuscript materials from four discrete archival collections made by Work Projects Administration (WPA) workers from the Joint Committee on Folk Arts, the Federal Writers' Project, and the Federal Music Project from 1937-42. The collection includes recordings of Slovak songs recorded by Alton Morris.

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.

Podcasts and Blog Posts

Public Programming

The fujara is the largest member of the overtone flute family. It developed in the seclusion of the Slovakian mountains, and, until recently, was barely known outside Slovakia. Even today, only a small number of traditional musicians play the instrument, and only a handful of craftsmen know how to make it. However, since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the fujara has been "discovered" by the rest of the music world, and an increasing number of musicians and listeners are embracing this magnificent "Queen of the flutes." The fujara's imposing size, (up to six feet long), and the intricate decorations on the flute's surface draw immediate attention, but listeners only begin to understand the true uniqueness of the fujara after hearing the first tones of its editative, soulful, and overtone-rich voice. The fujara was originally developed and played by Slovak shepherds. Its unique voice was used to play slow, lyrical, melancholic folk melodies, which the fujarist played in alternation with sung lyrics about various topics: shepherds' daily routines and hard lives; love; the beauty of nature; and the adventures, capture, and execution of forest outlaws. In this presentation, Bob Rychlik will demonstrate the fujara's versatility by playing examples from the traditional repertoire as well as classical and contemporary music, including several of his own compositions. This lecture/performance was presented by Bob Rychlik in conjunction with the American Musical Instrument Society Annual Meeting and in cooperation with the Music Division, Library of Congress.