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American Folklife Center Collections: Thailand

This guide provides access to resources documenting the history and culture of Thailand, and the Thai diaspora, at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.


Photographer, unknown. Photographic Views of Thailand. Between 1890 and 1923. Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The American Folklife Center stewards a sizeable collection of ethnographic materials related to the history and culture of Thailand and the Thai diaspora. Most collection materials are field recordings of traditional Thai music, recorded by US- and European-based ethnomusicologists from the 1900s to the 1960s. These documentarians include Carl Stumpf, Laura Bolton, and Vida Chenowith. A notable exception is Kamol Kedusiri -- a Thai musician and ethnographer, who made field recordings of Thai music on native instruments in the 1950s. The musical recordings also include songs about the Vietnam War, sung by US military personnel, while stationed in Thailand in the 1960s and 1970s. 

The collections also include personal narratives and oral history interviews with Thai-Americans and recent immigrants from Thailand to the United States. Notable within these materials are interviews, from 2015, with immigrants from Southeast Asia, working in the meat packing industry in Iowa. Many of these immigrants were born in, lived in, or traveled through Thailand during their migration experiences. Other collections include interviews with Thai-Americans in Lowell, Massachusetts and in Central Ohio.

The American Folklife Center is just one repository for Thai-related materials at the Library of Congress. To learn more about archival collections related to Thailand and Southeast Asia at the Library of Congress, see this research guide.

Featured Collection - Occupational Folklife Project

The Occupational Folklife Project began in 2010 as a multi-year project by the American Folklife Center (AFC) to document the culture of contemporary American workers during an era of economic and social transition. To date, fieldworkers across the United States have recorded more than 1800 audio and audiovisual oral history interviews with workers in scores of trades, industries, crafts, and professions. Three projects in the Occupational Folklife Project feature materials from Thai-Americans or immigrants to the United States who once lived in Thailand. Find these materials below:

Other Collections of Interest