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American Folklife Center



Women Collectors
American Folk Song
Ex-Slave Narratives
Folk Music Revival
Duncan Emrich Autograph Album Collection
arrow graphicThe Local Legacies Project Collection
Field Documentation Projects
Collections Available Online



The Local Legacies Project Collection
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Indian dance performed at Art in the Park Weekend at the Three Rivers Festival, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1981. Forms part of the Local Legacies Project.

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The Local Legacies project was launched by the Librarian of Congress as a major component of the Library of Congress's Bicentennial, which was celebrated on April 24, 2000. The Library invited members of Congress to identify grassroots traditions and activities from every state and congressional district, document them in photographs, sound and video recordings, and manuscripts, and send a portion of that documentation to the Library of Congress for inclusion in the Archive of Folk Culture. The resulting collection provides a snapshot of traditional community life in America at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Project guidelines defined a local legacy as “a traditional activity, event, or area of creativity that merits being documented for future generations.” The project staff hoped for representative or signature events and activities that characterized the local communities. Approximately thirteen hundred projects were nominated by 412 members of Congress. At the time of the May 23, 2000, reception at the Library for Local Legacies participants, more than a thousand had been sent in. Projects included a Chinese New Year's parade in Portland, Oregon; the burning of an effigy of “Old Man Gloom” in Sante Fe, New Mexico; Sacred Harp singing in rural Georgia; the National Storytelling festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee; Nebraskaland Days in Wilber, Nebraska; the California Strawberry Festival in Ventura County; the Bolder Boulder ten-kilometer Memorial Day Run in Boulder, Colorado; arts and crafts from Puerto Rico; Native American dancers from several states; and many more.

Of particular interest to scholars of women's history and culture are the parades, festivals, and other community celebrations that pervade the collection. Many include beauty queens and beauty pageants, ethnic food preparation, costumes, and other activities and displays that represent the traditional roles of women in particular communities. A brief description and sample photograph has been prepared for each Local Legacies project and made available online. To see a listing of projects by state, go to the Local Legacies home page and click on Project Listing.

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