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American Folklife Center



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



Folk Music Revival

The Folk Archive includes recordings and other material from the National Folk Festival, an annual event now coordinated by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) of Silver Spring, Maryland. The festival, first held in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1934, sought the help of folklorists, anthropologists, and other field-workers to identify and present authentic folk performers. The National Folk Festival, which has been staged in many different cities, has been a model for other such events and has presented the most notable of folk virtuosos from many ethnic traditions—British, Irish, Native American, African, Hispanic, Asian, and continental European. The archive collections include material from the early years and the present day.

The Folk Archive also houses a major collection of recorded music and other material concerning the “folk revival” that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, when many college students learned to play the guitar and the coffeehouse was a favorite social venue. The spirit of that movement changed radically with the war in Vietnam, as did so many other things, but musicians of all sorts continued to trace their roots to folk music and its popularizers. Many women performers are associated with the folk revival, both as individuals, such as folksinger and musician Jean Ritchie, and as members of groups, such as Ronnie Gilbert of the Weavers. Some perform music they learned in the traditional manner, in their families and communities; others perform new compositions in a traditional style, or traditional music they have learned in nontraditional ways—for instance, by listening to Library of Congress field recordings.

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