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American Folklife Center Online Archive of Symposia
and Related Events

collage of symposia photos
Clockwise from upper left: Pete Seeger, film presentation at Labolore, John Moulden, Labolore panel, Robert Watt. Center: Elaine Eff.
Available here are photographs, flyers, event website pages, and webcasts of presentations from past symposium events. The materials available online will vary with each event. Recordings may be available in the Folklife Reading Room for an event or parts of an event that were audio-recorded or videotaped, but not produced as a webcast. For currently scheduled events, go to the What's Happening at the American Folklife Center page.


The Stations that Spoke Your Language: Radio and the Yiddish-American Cultural Renaissance: September 6-7 2012. Leading Yiddish language and culture experts joined media scholars and Library of Congress specialists to address Yiddish radio in America: its history and cultural impact, its continuing influence on American media, and its multifaceted legacy.


Literatura de Cordel: Continuity and Change in Brazilian Popular Literature: September 26-27, 2011. Presentations at this symposium focused on the history of literatura de cordel, a form of popular literature from northeastern Brazil, as well as accompanying traditions. These include the composition of poems, lyrics, and stories; the creation of woodblock images; and performances inspired by literatura de cordel. The symposium drew attention to the American Folklife Center's collections of literatura de cordel, which are among the most extensive in the world. The symposium also explored the artistry, narrative, and iconography of cordel in order to examine the tradition during the recent past, and to encourage research on these compelling collections. Noted scholars of cordel were featured, as will the artistry of cordel poets, singers, and woodcut artists. The symposium was timed to coincide with this year's Organization of American States' Inter-American Year of Culture.


Work and Transformation: Documenting Working Americans: December 6-7, 2010. This symposium featured presentations by the 2010 recipients of the AFC Archie Green Fellowships, conserning their documentation of the culture and traditions of American workers in New York, Idaho, and Louisiana. Panels also included representatives of community-based documentation projects supported by IMLS who discussed the role of America's libraries and museums as centers for the documentation of oral history and the development of 21st century skills.  Speakers also included social and economic policymakers exploring the value of using personal narratives about work to address broader social issues. Webcasts are available.

Borderlines / Borderlands: Culture and the Canadian-U.S. International Boundary: This free public symposium, co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and the Canadian Embassy, was held on June 15 and June 16, 2010 and brought together leading Canadian and U.S. scholars to explore the history, cultures, and traditions of regions and communities along the U.S.-Canada border. (event photographs forthcoming)


Unsung Heroes: A Symposium on the Heroism of Asian Pacific Americans During World War II October 26, 2009. View the webcasts: Part 1 and Part 2. The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center and the Library of Congress Asian Division Friends Society will co-host a special commemorative program honoring Asian Pacific American heroism during World War II. This session of the symposium includes Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba's overview of the war in the Pacific Theater, Anna Chennault's recollection of her life with the Flying Tigers and Poet Vince Gotera performing a dramatic reading from his book "Ghost Wars."

Baseball Americana Symposium October 2-3, 2009
Baseball Americana was a unique celebration of our national pastime, held at the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, the Library of Congress. Webcasts and event photographs are available.

Legends and Legacies:
An American Folklife Center Celebration of Public Folklore

On September 10-11, 2009, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress hosted a two-day event including a tribute, a symposium, and a concert, honoring folklorists Archie Green and Joe Wilson, and celebrating the acquisition of the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) Collection by the Center's archive. The multifaceted event featured spoken tributes, musical performances, panel discussions, and rare glimpses at archival treasures, and was crowned by a magnificent evening concert in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium. Webcasts and event photographs are available.

Robert Burns at 250: Poetry, Politics, and Performance, February, 2009. To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, in collaboration with the Scottish Government, presented a free public symposium on Burns’s life and work, as well as his impact on America and American culture. The web site for this event includes a list of Burns-related resources with links. Webcasts and event photographs for this event are available.


Art, Culture, and Government: the New Deal at 75, March, 2008. This symposium was aimed at re-focusing attention on the New Deal, the multi-faceted social, cultural, and fiscal recovery programs launched by the Roosevelt administration in 1933, to reform and reinvigorate national life in the wake of the Great Depression. The symposium focused especially on cultural documentation performed by New Deal programs, and its impact on collections at the Library of Congress and elsewhere. Webcasts and event photographs for this event are available.


Laborlore Conversations IV: Documenting Occupational Folklore Then and Now, August, 2007. Scholars and community workers gathered at the Library of Congress to engage in dialogues and discussions on the history of documenting laborlore (or occupational folklife). In particular, some of the significant collections of work culture housed at the Library were discussed. Webcasts and event photographs for this event are available.

Rediscover Northern Ireland Programme, May, 2007. This site presents materials from related concerts and lectures as well as the symposium "All through the North, As I Walked Forth...": Northern Ireland's Place Names, Folklife and Landscape with Kay Muhr and Henry Glassie. Webcasts and event photographs for the concert performances and lectures are available. The symposium presentations are not available as webcasts at this time.

How Can I Keep from Singing? A Seeger Family Tribute, March, 2007. The Library of Congress paid tribute to one of America's most enduring musical legacies in this two-day celebration. Events included a symposium, a concert, and a special screening of archival films. Webcasts and event photographs for this event are available.


SAA Pre-Conference Symposium: Ethnographic Archives, Communities of Origin, and Intangible Cultural Heritage, August, 2006. This event was co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress; the National Anthropological Archives & Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution; and the Native American Archives Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists. Event photographs are available. No webcasts are available.


In Country: The Vietnam War, 30 Years After May, 2005. The Veterans History Project hosted a symposium which included General Julius Becton, Jr. (U.S. Army, Ret.), Vietnam veteran and educator; Bernard Kalb, a veteran journalist, author and founding anchor on the weekly CNN program Reliable Sources; Stanley Karnow, World War II veteran, journalists and author of "Vietnam: A History;" and panelist/moderator, Dr. Daun van Ee of the Library of Congress Manuscript Division and Vietnam veteran and specialist in 20th century military history. (This link goes directly to the webcast of the symposium)

War's End: Eyewitness to History Symposium May, 2005. A symposium marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II was presented by the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Thursday, May 26, 2005. The symposium program and webcasts of the event are available online.


Folk Heritage Collections in Crisis, December, 2000. The American Folklife Center and the American Folklore Society sponsored a symposium at the Library of Congress for over one hundred invited experts and observers, who discussed what they are individually and collectively doing, or hoping to do, to respond to the crisis in preserving and documenting historic archival recordings in all media. Webcasts for two of the three keynote addresses are available. All of the keynote addresses are available in text form.


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