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The Virginia Folklore Society


VFS Bulletin No. 1, 1913

2003 Program Celebrates The Virginia Folklore Society's 90thAnniversary

The VFS meeting on November 15th will be held in the Faculty Lounge, 229-231 Bryan Hall, Department of English, UVA.

The program is as follows:

2-5 PM:

  • Welcome and introductory remarks by VFS president Nancy J. Martin-Perdue on the celebration of both the 90th anniversary of the VFS and the first CD compilation of ballads/songs issued from the Society's 1930s field recordings, with recorded samples. The CD's title is: Traditional Ballads of Virginia & More, Volume 1.

  • VFS Archivist Charles Perdue will pay tribute to his predecessor as Archivist, the late Prof. Arthur Kyle Davis for his role in obtaining deposit of the WPA/VWP folklore materials in Alderman Library; his efforts conducting the early VFS field recording project; and his excellent work editing the publications, Traditional Ballads of Virginia (1929), More Traditional Ballads of Virginia, and Folk Songs of Virginia (1960): A Descriptive Index and Classification of Material Collected under the Auspices of the Virginia Folklore Society. (1965).

  • John Lohman of the Virginia Folklife Program, VFHP&P will talk about the VFP's Apprenticeship Program and its recently released CD.

"Driving Up the Streambed with Mr.'Whilikins:' Vivid Memories of George Foss and Paul Clayton, 1957-58"

Keynote address by Dr. Roger D. Abrahams,
Retiring Director of the Center for Folklore & Ethnography,
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

After the keynote address, we will have wine/cheese and conversation in the Faculty Lounge until about 5:30PM.

5:30-7:00 PM:

A buffet dinner has been arranged for Dr.Abrahams, VFS members and others in the Garden Room of the UVA Colonnade Club.

  • The buffet at $19.95 /person (everyone at their own expense) includes everything from a choice of mixed greens or couscous salads; grilled vegetables; roasted salmon; pork medallions with braised red cabbage; rolls, chocolate chambourd cake, coffee, tea (iced or hot), and more. It should be very nice for a special occasion in a celebratory mode. ADVANCE NOTICE IS NECESSARY by Nov. 12th, if you wish to attend the dinner. Contact me in this regard by email at: np8h@virginia.edu or by phone: (434) 924-6823.

7:30-10:00 PM:

Musicale/jam session back at the Faculty Lounge in Bryan Hall.

  • Mel Lee and a group of singers who did a program on VFS & Child ballads at the Rockingham Historical Society Museum in Dayton, VA last summer have been invited to bring their ensemble to the meeting; Eve Watters, Dave Nealon, Chuck and I, Roger and others, possibly including Doug Day, the Perdue boys and the Mando Mafia, will be on hand for the evening's musicale as well.

There will be no attendance charge for the meeting because it is being sponsored in part by the English Dept.; there is never any charge for members at Society events in any case. However, we encourage people to become members or to renew their expired memberships at this time. We also welcome any donations in support of the Society or to help defray other meeting expenses and CD production costs. We hope to have the Society's CD on hand for sale, or by advance subscription if it is not as yet available for release on that day.

Please help us make this year's program a fitting celebration of the Virginia Folklore Society's ninetieth anniversary!

Some Editorial Musings on the Passings of 2002
& the Virginia Folklore Society

Nancy J. Martin-Perdue, VFS Editor & President

Another year has passed and much has been lost with its passing. There was both irony and sadness in the fact that I began this editorial in 2003 on the date of the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That date, January 20th, also marks the passing in 2002 of Virginia native and much beloved friend, John Jackson. Both his description as a "Blue Ridge Songster - Virginia Bluesman - American Legend" and his 1986 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Award as a Virginia musical treasure recognized the importance of his legacy to African American musical culture and heritage. [See Books & Media for earlier Jackson record reviews on this site.] However, for many, including my family & myself, his loss was up close and personal.

Whether we memorialize Dr. King who had "a dream" or John Jackson for his musical riches on January 20th, we must not in the process lose sight of the obstacles each had to overcome for the sake of their accomplishments. It is the troublesome stuff of everyday life and experience that most rapidly fades from social memory and in turn, finds substitutes in mythic stories about such larger-than-life figures. So for the record, I offer here several personal narratives and first-hand observations in remembrance of John Jackson. These stories from the early days of our involvement with John and his family expose some of the gross racial attitudes and conditions against which he struggled to play his music in the decades before being acclaimed an "American Legend" in the late twentieth century. Lest we forget.

In 1964 when we first met John, the caretaker & houseman for lawyer & Mrs. John Barbour of Fairfax, the idea of civil rights and equal treatment under the law was still a distant hope in Virginia. A few years later, when John's oldest son was arrested after being stopped, presumably for a broken tail light, and put in the Fairfax jail overnight without the mandated free call, another local lawyer told us "you might just as well be in Mississippi" as to be black and living in Fairfax at that time.

It was not surprising then that the issuance of an Arhoolie LP record, Blues & Country Dance Tunes from Virginia, by the Barbour's houseman received little local note in 1965. No record store in the area would stock it. Most of the first 500 records released were sold unceremoniously by John and his wife Cora to friends and relatives or by my husband Chuck and I, out of the back of our American/Nash Rambler station wagon, at meetings of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, at folk festivals, and elsewhere.

Although black pride and consciousness was on the rise in the 1960s, it was also accompanied at times by a mix of determined cultural amnesia & denial. In one such case in 1965, John was invited to participate in the Three Days of Soul festival at Cardoza High School in Washington, DC, but his performance was short-lived. John was booed off the stage by an audience who literally would not allow him to play what they protested was "old plantation music" that they wanted no part of anymore. What they did want to hear and see, however, were the drummers and dancers representing that part of an even more distant African past.

The audience's reaction was upsetting enough, but when John went backstage he was met by a man who accused him of being an "Uncle Tom" and then threatened him with a knife as he was leaving the building. All of this served as an especially keen reminder to John of earlier musical disputes and jealousies, which had led increasingly to fights and violence at house parties in his native Rappahannock County. After one such particularly unpleasant occasion, John quit going to house parties and put down his guitar for almost fifteen years. After that lapse, he had just begun to play again not too long before we met him.

If urban black audiences of the time were not yet able to deal with John's particular blend of blues and country dance songs, whites were generally only a little less baffled as to how to categorize his tunes. No less than Lawrence Cohn, the reviewer of new folk and blues LP record releases for the Library of Congress commended John's new record with faint racism, writing in November 1966:

Another previously unrecorded artist, forty-two year-old Virginian [John] Jackson, although a Negro, easily traverses the road between Negro and white country music. He is as much at home playing the five-string banjo, singing 'Cindy' and imitating Jimmie Rodgers as he is with the blues and 'knife-style' guitar. Through all of this he manages to remain original and creative in his own right, possessed of charming vocal intonations and a strong instrumental attack.

John Jackson at Newport Festival, 1965Even earlier, we had taken John to the annual Newport Folk Festival, where he appeared on its blues stage in July 1965. Afterward, we were all booked (John, Chuck & myself) at a Folk Musical Festival Night presented under the Fairhaven Summer Theatre's auspices in the Fairhaven, Massachusetts Town Hall. The reviews of the blues performances at Fairhaven were mixed. The writer praised both Bruce Chambers, who had just gained Pete Seeger's approval at the Newport Festival & "proved adept at the blues", and Ed Morris, a very fine country blues guitarist & fellow Folklore Society of Greater Washington member, who had been studying at the feet of bluesman Skip James in DC for sometime. The sounds of young white folk revival blues players were intelligible to the reviewer's ear, but of John he noted with some ambivalence, "Self taught, his rhythms were, at times, hard to follow. His lyrics, also, left much to guesswork. However, for sheer blues sense, he filled the bill."

John more than filled the bill with his kind heart, generous spirit, consummate artistry, and gracious, unassuming presence. The reality of the situation was that it took a very long time for most audiences to come to recognize that what they were hearing and seeing was a master musician, cultural treasure, and American legend, and to be able to discern the difference. John was the genuine article both as a human and as an artist.

In his enduring legacy as a musician, John joins others who preceded him, like Blind Boy Fuller, some of whose songs he played. As he always spoke quietly, "Goodbye Blind Boy", at the end of playing Blind Boy Fuller's Farewell, we, too, now have to say "Goodbye John." Regrettably, those to come will never be able to know him as a person in the full possession of his life and music. Instead, they will have to be content with comprehending his artistry only at a distance: as it is represented by a disembodied, digitized sound on a synthetic disc. So much more has been lost in the passing.

Unfortunately, John's passing was not the only one to closely touch us in 2002. Barbara Carns, another longtime friend and a wonderfully gutsy, deep-voiced blues singer, died on July 9th, 2002-- succeeding John by only months (see also, Lomax & Foss below). It was Barbara, in fact (a former Atlantan transplanted to New Bedford, MA), who organized the Fairhaven Folk Musical Festival night mentioned previously. Given Barbara's many uncanny abilities, it would not be surprising if even now she is in some other part of the universe singing a song for John. If so, it would undoubtedly be the one she did that he loved the best, He Was A Friend of Mine.

Two other fine Virginia musicians, on hand with the Perdue clan to welcome an auspicious year on New Year's Day 2002, were all too soon "cut down in their prime" by March. Dave Grant, a world-class bass player who was included along with John Jackson, on Kelly Perdue and the Mando Mafia's latest CD, Get Up In The Cool, was killed in a horrific occupational accident--the result of another worker's inexcusable carelessness. Dave left a wife Darlene and a young son. Gary Hawk, who was overwhelmed by an aggressive cancer, was a fine banjo player and a respected forensic psychiatrist with the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, & Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Gary spent many long hours in the Folklore Archive in Brooks Hall discussing the history of folk & country music, a subject on which he was as much a scholar as he was an expert in forensic science. Gary's wife Jenny and two sons survive him. Our hearts still go out to these families for their losses.

Among many others whose passing last year deserve note here, I will mention only two: Alan Lomax, a noted American folklorist who died on July 19, 2002, see The Alan Lomax Collection for tributes to him; and George D. Foss, a former musician with the National Symphony Orchestra and Virginia folksong collector, who died in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 21, 2002. Foss, with whom we had many discussions about folk music in the early days of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, co-authored Anglo-Anerican Folksong Style with Roger D. Abrahams in 1968. George Fosses' previously unpublished manuscript on folksong collecting in Albemarle County, VA, From White Hall to Bacon Hollow can be found online at: The Shiflet Family website. Suffice it to say here that the year 2002, which began with a succession of tragic losses, continued its devastating course through to the end. While we had hoped the year 2003 would be kinder to us all, it has not as yet proved to be so. Most recently, Freyda Epstein, a singer/musician, former Charlottesville resident & member of the Trapezoid ensemble, was hit and killed May 17, 2003 in a bizarre automobile accident on her way to join friends at Musicalia--an annual music weekend/camp-out in Albemarle County, VA.

Another passing in 2002 of a different sort, however, was evoked by the 2003 commencement of bicentennial celebrations for the Lewis & Clark Expedition, broadcast in January from the stark mountaintop setting of Jefferson's Monticello home. Those midwinter scenes vividly recalled the somewhat warmer and sunny day of December 1, 2001, when the last annual meeting of the Virginia Folklore Society was hosted by the Monticello-Thomas Jefferson Foundation at its Kenwood Research Center. We were doubly obliged to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation's director and to members of the Foundation's research staff for their valuable contributions to the program; as well as, to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities & Public Policy, who through the agency of Jon Lohman and the Virginia Folklife Program, kindly provided a buffet luncheon for all and contributed to a general atmosphere of contentment through the rest of a long day. To all, we extend our thanks.

In retrospect, it is easy to consider the well-attended 2001 program an unqualified success. It would not have been so, however, without the efforts of all those persons who attended and came (considerable distances in many cases) to give presentations, enjoy the exchange of ideas in a beautiful setting, or simply to support the Society out of their own interests in the organization. During the Business Meeting at the end of the day, those attending voted to extend Honorary Memberships to Mike Seeger & former VFP director Garry Barrow for their dedication and years of services toward documenting folk music & folklife in Virginia. However, thoughts of that grand day of fine fellowship & optimism are painful reminders now of the loss of such an opportunity in 2002.

There will be no such lapse in 2003--the 90th anniversary year of the founding of the Virginia Folklore Society!

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The Alliance for American Quilts Is Seeking an Executive Director & Administrative Assistant

The Alliance is a non-profit organization which requires administrative & fund-raising skills, as well as the capability to carry out much of the work effectively in a "virtual" environment. For job descriptions or information about either of these positions, check the Alliance's website at Quilts. Or submit a cover letter, resume & 3 references to:

Alliance Search,
c/o Wolfe, Keens & Co.,
200 N. Little Falls St., Suite 303,
Falls Church, VA 22031.
Resumes may be faxed to (703) 237-2902 or submitted electronically to Search.

Assistantship Available for M.A. Graduate Student in Louisiana Folklife Program

The Louisiana Regional Folklife Program seeks a graduate student assistant to work in the area of public folklore/folklife reseaarch. To receive the assistantship, te student will be concurrently enrolled in the M.A. program in Folklife/Southern Culture in the Dept. of Language & Communication at Northwestern State University. The position guarantees summer and between semester funding, in addition to support during the Fall & Spring semesters. If interested, contact:

Dr. Suzanne Disheroon-Green
Director of Graduate Studies,
Northwestern State University,
Dept. of Language & Communication
318 Kyser Hall,
Natchitoches, LA 71497.
Call (318) 357-6272 or email: Disheroon-Green. Program information may be obtained from the Language & Communication Dept. website. This announcement expires on June 30, 2003.

Internships & Other Training Opportunities

The National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA)

is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the presentation and documentation of folk & traditional arts. NCTA offers an internship with stipend to MAC literate persons who can do office work and/or project coordination & support. The project work could be associated with any of the organization's concert, national & international tours, festivals, radio & television programs, recordings, or films. Available year-round, this internship opportunity extends through December 2004. Mail, fax or email brief resume to:
NCTA Intern Program
National Council for the Traditional Arts
1320 Fenwick Lane, Suite 200
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Fax: (301) 565-0472 or email:

The American Folkife Center (AFC/LC)

has volunteer internships, which may involve working with the collections of the Archive of Folk Culture and are available on a flexible basis. Applications may also be made to the Gerald E. & Corrine Parsons Fund for Ethnography for small grants supporting research that enhances the ethnographic collections of the Library of Congress. The AFC also participates in the LC Junior Fellowship Program, which offers some paid internships. For more information on any of these resources, phone Ann Hoog at(202)707-4428 or email: AFC.

Upcoming Music Events in 2003

June 21:

Wayne Henderson Music Festival & Guitar Competition,
Grayson Highlands State Park,
Mouth of Wilson, VA

July 30-August 3:

Appalachian String Band Music Festival
Camp Washington-Carver State Park,
Clifftop, WV

August 4-9:

Old Fiddler's Convention
Felts Park,
Galax, VA

September 12-13:

Rockbridge Mountain Music & Dance Festival
Glen Maury Park,
Buena Vista, VA

October 25:

Blue Ridge Folklife Festival
Ferrum, VA
For further information, see: "News from the Blue Ridge Institute".

Summer Concert Series at Blue Ridge Parkway's Music Center:

All concerts begin at 7:00 PM unless noted otherwise. For more information, call (276) 236-5309 or check the Blue Ridge Music Center website.

June 7:

White Top Mountain String Band; Alternate Roots

June 14

Nashville Bluegrass Band and The Whites; Gary Patton & Friends

June 21:

Slate Mountain Ramblers; New River Bluegrass

June 28:

The Round Peak Sound

July 5:

Round Peak Ramblers; Fochabers Fiddlers'; Albert Hash Memorial String Band

July 12:

Piedmont & Appalachian Blues Fest - Featuring Cephus & Wiggins; Warner Williams & Jay Summerour; Jeffrey Scott, and Etta Baker

July 19:

Bluegrass Brothers; New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters

July 26:

Fescue; Solomon Branch Band

August 2:

Del McCoury Band; David Lay, Linda Lay. & David McLaughlin

August 10:

Masters of the Banjo. Performers TBA

August 16:

Appalachian Guitar Masters. Performers TBA

August 23:

Marshall Brothers; High Road

August 30:

Bluegrass Tradition; Cana Ramblers

September 6:

Larry Sigmon & Barbara Poole; Wolfe Brothers

September 13:

The Seldom Scene; Stony Point Quartet

September 30:


Other Significant Dates

For more details on the following events, contact the National Council for the Traditional Arts. See address information for NCTA below.

July 25-27:

The Lowell Folk Festival
Lowell, Massachusetts.

August 22-24:

65th National Folk Festival
Bangor, Maine.

September 19:

2003 National Heritage Fellowships Public Concert
Lisner Auditorium
George Washington University
Washington, DC


A Brief Report from Dayton

A major Library of Virginia exhibition, Virginia Roots Music: Creating & Conserving Tradition, which was displayed in Richmond until March 22, 2003 just ended its recent showing at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society Museum/Library in Dayton, VA on June 10th. VFS officers Charles Perdue & Nancy Martin-Perdue, attended the Dayton exhibit and an associated June 5th musical program which compared ballads from the Francis James Child collection with some submitted by early VFS collector Martha Davis of Rockingham County. Coincidentally, Gregg Kimball, one of the Library of Virginia's curators of the original exhibition was also at the evening performance. Gregg happened to be in the area returning items borrowed from local resident Greg Lam for use in the exhibit in Richmond. The evening of ballads organized by Mel Lee, featured, in addition to himself, Jane Cox, Phyllis Gaskins, & David Landes, was very well attended by an almost, if not, full house. The program was a delight and enjoyed by all. On request, this editor announced the upcoming 90th anniversary of the VFS and associated plans to issue a CD of VFS field recordings in conjunction with the November meeting. We also extended an invitiation to the evening's performers and audience to bring their music and join us in celebration at the November meeting.

Banjo-List New Resident at UVA

"Banjo-L is an Internet e-mail discussion group that California musician Sean Barry created eight years ago 'for devotees of all sorts and styles of banjos, banjo music, artists, accessories, history, and any other subject related to the venerable instrument.' Because Barry is changing jobs, the list, which is noncommercial, unmoderated, and by subscription only, will move from UC-Davis to the University of Virginia." Effective June 1st, Barry handed the List over to fellow banjo player & list member, Marc Perdue, a computer network administrator and web page designer with UVA's ITC. Not only will Perdue's occupational background be of benefit in maintaining the list, but UVA's new list software should provide added protection for subscribers against computer viruses. At last count the list had more than 1,400 subscribers.

The Banjo-List move to Virginia seems appropriate also given the instrument's long history of associations within the state: from Jefferson's mention in Notes on the State of Virginia of slaves at Monticello playing the "banjar" [see also: Elizabeth Langhorne's article in the Society's journal, Folklore & Folklife in Virginia, Vol. I, 1979--online at this site under "Publications"]; the contribution of an additional string to the instrument by Joel Walker Sweeny of Appommatox Co.; the many patents and improvements made in more recent times by Geoff Stelling of Stelling Banjo Works in Afton, Virginia, and the continuing series on the history of the instrument hosted by the Prism Coffeehouse in Charlottesville and sponsored most recently by the Virginia Folklife Program under Jon Lohman's direction & the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities & Public Policy. It would seem to be an auspicious move for the Banjo-List. For more information, email Marc Perdue. To subscribe, go to the Banjo-List. [Source credit: Anne Bromley]

Virginia Folklife Program Logo

Virginia Folklife Program News

Since Jon Lohman took the position as VFP Director in August 2001, he has been very busy, indeed, acquainting himself with the folklore & folklife of the various regions across the state. He also played an active role in the 2001 Virginia Folklore Society meeting [see 2001 program].

   As his first major VFP project, however, Jon initiated a state Folklife Apprenticeship Program. The program "pairs an experienced master artist with an apprentice for a one-on-one, nine-month learning experience, in order to help ensure that a particular art form is passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition," while it also gives recognition to those Virginians whose artistry and skills warrant commendation as masters of their particular traditional art forms. At the inauguration of the Program in August 2002, apprenticeships were awarded to eight pairs of masters & apprentices, who represent a diversity of traditional skills and expressive cultural art forms ranging across the various regions of Virginia. Among the first recipients of these awards were the following:

  • Audrey Hash Ham, a master fiddle maker from Grayson Co., learned the craft from her father the late Albert Hash, a renowned fiddler & instrument maker; her apprentice craftsman is Carl Powers.

  • Kinney Rorrer from Pittsylvania Co., a scholar, performer & master of the early 20th century banjo playing style of his relative Charlie Poole, will share his knowledge with apprentice, Jeremy Stephens.

  • Grayson Chesser from Accomack Co. has been acclaimed as one of the "greatest living legends" among carvers of hunting decoys; he will pass his art form on to Robie Marsh, Jr., also from Virginia's Eastern Shore.

  • The Paschall Brothers of Chesapeake in Tidewater Virginia are an a capello singing Gospel Quartet formed in 1981 by Rev. Frank Paschall, St. with his five sons. The sons have carried on the quartet singing style since their father's death in 1999, and will pass it on to a number of apprentices in the the group's church, including the founder's grandson, Terence Paschall Jr.

  • Flory Jagoda of Fairfax Co., a Ladino Singer who learned Judeo-Spanish language ballads as a child from her grandmother in Sarajevo prior to WWII. Jagoda also won a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Award in 2002 for keeping "the flame" of a once rich & ancient tradition; her apprentice and already accomplished protégé is Susan Gaeta.

  • William Rogers of Montgomery Co. uses traditional blacksmithing tools & techniques he learned from his grandfather while growing up on a farm. He has since turned these skills into an art form he has demonstrated as part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts series; Amin Ghaderi will be his apprentice.

  • John Rinehart of Franklin Co., whose craft as a hot rod car builder & customizer extends earlier local traditions of "souping-up" cars so bootleggers could outrun revenuers into a form of "car art". In this case, the well-recognized master Rinehart shares his secrets with a successor in the chain of hot rod car aficionados, Don Fitzgerald.

  • C. Marshall Cofer, who demonstrates his skills as a draft horse handler at the Blue Ridge Institute in Ferrum, learned how to handle horses as part of the domestic & agricultural cycle growing up on a farm in his native Bedford Co.; he will train apprentice, Rebecca Austin, as an assistant to help him continue teaching these skills.

   VFP Apprenticeships are awarded for nine months, with most beginning in September and ending in May. Qualified master artists will receive an honorarium of $1,800; selected apprentices may receive a small honorarium to cover supplies or travel expenses. A copy of the Apprentices Program application for 2003-2004 may be downloaded from the Apprenticeship Program. The postmarked deadline will likely be the end of July for a given year. For more information, contact Jon Lohman at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

   We also look forward to hearing more about Jon Lohman's current VFP projects & to possible future collaborations between the Virginia Folklore Society and the VFP.

News from the Blue Ridge Institute

 The Blue Ridge Institute and Museum includes gallery exhibits and a living history farm museum. The Farm Museum, first opened in 1979, uses costumed staff, historic buildings & animal breeds, to interpret the regional agriculture and lifestyle in 1800 of German-American farmsteaders in the Blue Ridge. The Farm Museum is open for walk-in visitors on Saturdays 10 a.m to 5 p.m.& Sundays 1 to 5 p.m., mid-May through mid-August. Group tours are available by reservation any day April through October. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for children and senior citizens. For more information on farm tours or gallery exhibits, call 540-365-4416 or visit the BRI website.

   The BRI also sponsors the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival held annually as a one-day celebration of living regional traditions. Among the festival's many features are three stages of musical performances ranging from balladry, blues, gospel singing & string band music; folk artisans & craftsman demonstrating and selling their wares; and displays of restored automobiles & farm machinery, all vying with horse pulls, coon dog competitions, and regional foods for visitors' attention. The Festival takes place on the campus of Ferrum College (10 miles west of Rocky Mount, Virginia on Route 40). This year's festival will be held on October 25, 2003 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An admission is charged.

News Briefs from Around the State & BEYOND

The Archive of Folk Culture, Library of Congress, Celebrates 75th Year

Dr. Michael Taft

The Archive of Folk Culture (originally the Archive of American Folk-Song), established in 1928 as part of the Music Division in the Library of Congress, celebrates both its 75th anniversary and the appointment of a new director this year. Dr. Michael Taft, who was recently appointed as the ninth in a line of LC-Archive heads, gave a presentation at the 2001 VFS meeting on the "Save Our Sounds" audio preservation program, for which he serves as project director. A New York native, with a Ph.D. in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland and an M.A. in library & information science from University of Alberta, and with an extensive background as archivist/librarian for a number of other important collections in the U.S. and Canada, Michael is imminently qualified for the position. The Archive of Folk Culture, whose holdings now include more than 3 million items, will be in good hands with him as its director.

VFS Officers Attend Library of Congress Premiere

After consulting on the HBO documentary film, "Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives," VFS Archivist, Charles Perdue & Editor, Nancy Martin-Perdue, along with GWU folklorist John Vlach, were invited to the film's premiere and reception afterward at the LC on January 10, 2003--the night Washington, DC had seven inches of fresh snowfall! Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, actress Alfre Woodard, one of the readers in the film & Professors Ira Berlin and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who gave the keynote address were also in attendance.

   Narrated by Whoopie Goldberg, the film included excerpts from WPA Federal Writers' Project ex-slave interviews as read by Angela Bassett, Michael Boatman, Don Cheadle, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Robert Guillaume, Samuel L. Jackson, C.C.H. Pounder, Courtney B. Vance, Vanessa I. Williams, & Oprah Winfrey, in addition to Ms. Woodard. The film was repeatedly shown on HBO during the month of January, and will no doubt, be aired there again in the future. A thoughtful, well-balanced review by Steven Mintz appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education soon after the film's showing. While the evening overall was interesting and enjoyable despite the snowy drive home, we have to agree with Mintz's assessment in his review's title, "[The HBO] Slave-Narrative Documentary Is Limited, but Compelling." The last word on the subject of slavery in antebellum America is yet to be heard, according to Mintz.


Some of you will recall the fine performances of several Society members at a VFS-sponsored evening concert after the daytime meeting several years ago. One of those musicians, Douglas Day, IV was formerly associated with the Delmarva Folklife Project and did free-lance public sector folklore under the heading of his own non-profit organization, the Southern Council for Folk Culture. We are happy to report that his "non-profit status" may have changed somewhat since he returned to his old "stomping grounds" to become Director of the Albemarle County Historical Society in Charlottesville. This is "old news" to many local members, but congratulations are still in order. As they say, Doug, "Better late than never!"

   The second member referred to above, a talented instrumentalist & singer, David Nealon, produced his first CD last December. He reports that "It's kind of eclectic, but pretty much all acoustic music" with mostly songs he wrote. The record title is "Cleaning Up My Act" and you can hear a sampling of it on: Dave's CD. It can be ordered from him at 10574 Indian Trail Road, Harrisonburg, VA 22802 for $12.00/copy. Or contact Dave Nealon directly by email or by phone at: (540) 433-5461. David also has a new job as Director of Education Programs for Shellbook Publishing Systems in Harrisonburg, VA. We wish both Doug & Dave well in their new workplaces.

Loudoun County Oral History Now Available

Previously we noted here that the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum was conducting oral histories with local residents who worked as farmers during the 20th century in "the second fastest growing county" in the U.S. The 146 page book, It's Just a Way of Life: Reminiscing about the family farm, is now available, costs $15.00, and can be ordered by contacting Allison Weiss or calling (703) 421-5322.

Delmarva Project Folklorist Publishes Work

Kelly Feltault, who spoke about her work on this project at a VFS meeting several years ago, has published the collaborative results of her three years of research. The book, "It's How You Pick the Crab": An Oral Portrait of Eastern Shore Crab Picking is available for $9.95 plus shipping from the store at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. To order a copy, call (410) 745-2916.

Stan Woodward Films Revisited

If you remember Stan Woodward's film on Brunswick Stew shown at the Virginia Folklore Society several years ago, it may be of interest that he is now offering it and several other foodways films for purchase at $30.00 each, plus $4 shipping & handling. These include: Sheep Stew: A Gastronomical Delight; It's Grits; Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Treasure; Lord Have Mercy: Olger's Store; & Carolina Hash: A Taste of South Carolina. They may be ordered from: The Woodward Studio, P.O. Box 5163, Greenville, SC 29606.

Please send any information regarding the activities, publications, or other items of interest for inclusion under the news briefs heading to:

   Editor, The Virginia Folklore Society
   c/o Department of English
   219 Bryan Hall, P.O. Box 400121,
   University of Virginia
   Charlottesville, VA 22904-4121
   Or email: VFS Editor

    August 18-24, 2003: Society of American Archivists.

  • Spotlight on Archives: Showcasing the Diversity of the Archival Enterpriseis the theme of this year's annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The meeting will be held at the Century Plaza Hotel & Tower in Los Angeles, CA. The program theme having to do with "Preservation of film, audio, and digital materials" is of particular interest to folklorists and oral historians; as is also Session #27: "A Model for Digital Audio Preservation & Distribution: The Arhoolie Foundation Strachitz Frontera Collection." For other information on the program and for registration materials, contact: SAA
  • October 8-12, 2003: Oral History Association.

  • The theme of this year's OHA meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, Maryland is Creating Communities: Cultures, Neighborhoods, Institutions. For more information, contact Roger Horowitz, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE, at (302) 658-2400, ext. 244 or by email: 2003 OHA Program Chair.

    There are some scholarships, not to exceed $500/per request, available to students, independent researchers, community historians, or members of under-represented groups, who wish to attend or to make a presentation at this year's OHA meeting. These funds may be used only to cover costs of workshops, conference meals, and travel-related expenses; recipients of scholarships will also receive complimentary registration. The deadline for applying for one of these scholarships is July 31, 2003. Information & application form may be found under Annual Meetings/Conference Registration/Bethesda on the OHA website.

  • October 8-12, 2003: American Folklore Society

  • Folk Culture and the Public Domain is the theme for this year's AFS meeting, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Details & registration forms for all annual meeting tours and special events will be posted in August on the American Folklore Society website.

  • October 12-19, 2003: Pioneer America Society

  • The theme for this 35th anniversary meeting to be held in Bridgetowwn, Barbados is:The Caribbean-North American Connection. For more details, contact Frank Ainsley at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, by phone: (910) 962-3493 or by email at Ainsley, ERS Dept.

  • November 15, 2003: The Virginia Folklore Society

  • Deadline for Call for Papers: August 15, 2003. The 88th VFS annual meeting program from 2001 follows as a sample.

The Virginia Folklore Society

meeting was held on Saturday, December 1, 2001 at Kenwood in Charlottesville, VA. The conference theme, "A Meeting of Minds & Institutions," conveyed the Society's wish to reach out to other groups & agencies involved in researching, documenting, preserving, or interpreting the traditional material & expressive culture or history of people and localities, both in and outside the state of Virginia.

The program began at:
9:00 AM - Registration with coffee, tea and donuts.

9:30 AM - Morning Session:
  • "Coming before Winter: Monticello Oral History Project," Lucia S. Stanton, Director & Dianne Swann-Wright, Historian "Getting Word" Oral History Project, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, VA

  • "Rebuilding the Past: Recovering the Lost Landscape of Slavery at Monticello," Martha Hill  Mulberry Row Fellow, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, VA

  • "Recording the Folk: Researching an Exhibition on Virginia Music in the 1920s and 30s," Gregg Kimball  Assistant Director, Publications & Educational Services Division, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA

  • "Preserving 20th century field recordings: the Save Our Sounds Project at the Library of Congress,"Michael Taft,  Folklife Specialist, American Folklife Center, The Library of Congress, Washington, DC

  • "A Folklorist Infiltrates Public Health: The NC Commercial Fishing Safety Study" Mary Anne McDonald, MA, Dr. P.H.,  Research Associate, Division of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC.
12:30 PM - Buffet Lunch at Kenwood.
 1:30 PM - 5:00 PM. Afternoon session:
  • "Virginia Folklife Program Roundtable," Jonathan M. Lohman with invited guests & audience 
    Director, Virginia Folklife Program, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities & Public Policy, Charlottesville, VA

  • "Archiving Panel Session", Margaret Yocom & others TBA Associate Professor of English (Folklore), George Mason University, Fairfax, VA Explores issues affecting specific archival cases.

  • "Folklore Societies & Future Directions?", Nancy Martin-Perdue, 
  • Scholar-in-Residence, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
  • Business Meeting.
Cost of registration for the day's meeting was $6.00 for non-members; $3.00 for non-member students; and free for members.

November 19-23, 2003: American Anthropological Association

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