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Integrating Folklore, Music, &
Traditional Culture Into K-12 Education

Interdisciplinary Educational Curriculum

Explore a tradition in your community and share it with the world.

WHAT IS FOLKLORE? National Folklore and Folklife Related Organizations Additional University Home Pages of Interest to Folklorists
International Organizations Regional Societies Folklore and Folklife Around the United States (Special Interest Sites)
Folklife, Research, Projects,
and Grants
Online Publications Art and Media Sites

Appalachian Journey
VIDEO 56 minutes

Appalachian Journey
America Reigns Supreme Mountain Music in Overdrive
Appalachian Journey songs, dances, and religious rituals of the descendents of the Scotch-Irish frontiers people.

Alan Lomax
travels through the Southern Appalachians investigating the songs, dances, and religious rituals of the descendents of the Scotch-Irish frontiers people who have made the mountains their home for centuries. Preachers, fiddlers, moonshiners, cloggers and square dancers recount the good times and the hard times of rural life.
Performances by Tommy Jarrell; Janette Carter; Ray and Stanley Hicks; Frank Proffitt (Tom Dooley) Jr.; Sheila Kay Adams; and Ray Fairchild, the man reputed to be the fastest banjo-picker in the world.


What is a folklorist and what do they do?

What is the Folklorist Process?

How do you document the process?

Research - Document - Interpret - Present

1. Use the Fieldwork Notebook
Fieldwork is the primary form of research that folklorists use. It is called “going out in the field”.

2. Use the Interview Guide
Interview your tradition bearer and collect photos, video and/or audio. Tell the tradition bearer’s story in under 6 minutes through a video or slideshow presentation.
Most of what folklorists want to discover is not in books; it is in the lives and minds of people. Through observation, participation and asking good questions while interviewing tradition bearers, folklorists learn firsthand about living traditions.

3. 2016 Global Folklorist Challenge

This guide uses resources directly from the Smithsonian - Letter from Betty Belanus

Teachers use Children's Books about Folk Artists and Material Culture

  • Teaching children about folklore and Appalachian culture extensive bibliography of resources by Tina Hanlon at Ferrum College.
  • Michael Lacapa, who is Apache/Hopi and has written several children's books based on Native American folktales:
    The Mouse Couple: A Hopi Folktale
    The Good Rainbow Road
    Antelope Woman: An Apache Folktale
    The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale
    The Flute Player
  •  Ryan Thomas Skinner's book, *Sidikiba's Kora Lesson*
  • Govenar, Alan. 2006. /Extraordinary Ordinary People: Five American Masters of Traditional Arts/. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
  • 2000. /Osceola: Memories of a Sharecroppers /Daughter. Shane Evans, illus. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.
  • 2006. /Stompin at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller/. Martin French, illus. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
  • Lyons, Mary E. 1997. /Catching the Fire: Philip Simmons, Blacksmith/. New York: Houghton.
  • 1993. /Stitching Stars: The Story Quilts of Harriet Powers/. New York: Scribners.
  • Raven, Margot Theis. 2004. /Circle Unbroken/. E.B. Lewis, illus. New York: Square Fish.
  • Yin, Chamroeun. 1996. /In My Heart, I Am a Dancer/. Ren J. Marquez, illus. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Folklore Project.
  • Mary Lyons. Catching the Fire: Philip Simmons, Blacksmith Houghton Mifflin
  • George Ancona, The Pinata Maker Harcourt-Brace, 1994
  • Cornelia Cornelisen. Music in the Wood NY: Delacorte [about a violin maker]
  • Dia's Story Cloth tells Hmong history through paj ndaub
  • Kathy Whitehead. Art from her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter


National Folklore and Folklife Related Organizations


2013 Funding opportunities offered by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs -


Artist-in-residence programs
State agency managers can tell interested parties what's available in their state. In New York, most of the lists are by BOCES districts. You have to go to each BOCES and get listed with the programs you offer and what you charge and sometimes how that fits in the curriculum. There is also and association of teaching artists in NYS.

Young Audiences is in relativly few places, will only be in geographical clusters, and the listing will hardly be complete. There may be 30 affiliates in the U.S. Many artists avoid them because of the fees, and copyright issues and the exceptionally bad contract for artists, Young Audience's contract demands you to sign that they control the copyright to your show in their region. The artist, after signing, is not allowed to perform in that region outside of the organization.They also take an enormous percentage of the artist's fee. It is a really bad contract from the artist's point of view.




Mission is to "To research, document, interpret and present the living traditional arts and expressions of everyday life of the folk and ethnic communities of the multi-national {xxx} region."

Food Guidelines Category is to accept "snack and desserts" "festival, carnival and large outdoor events foods" the public at large (we bring in 100,000 people) wants diversity in food choices other than the ethnic and regional foods that are the staple of the festival.

"Local" and "Homey" are the same as "Folk" (are they not?) even if not "Ethnic". Why are folklorists being so picky about this issue?

Look at regional produce because the environment dictates what can be grown and the diet of the peoples who live there to a great extent. The ethnic groups in those regions will have foods that reflect what they grow. That way we can get away from generalizations by Western labels such as "Asians". There are regions in Asia (a very big geographic area label) with wheat growers as well as rice, corn, barley and potatoes. A simple way to "in-fold" the food vendors with the music is for each provider to print up a statement (with a picture or two) about their most favored foods and/or dishes. They should note the importance of local
history, personal favorites, and/or what goes with what in this particular culinary culture.

It is all to rare to have curatorial control over festival food vendors, and you should do all you can to maintain it. This challenge is not about food, it's about the festival industry, the commercial force that has homogenized the form and made most festivals in the US virtually identical. Since this is about business, I suggest making a business case to support your current policy -- search for the standard business blather on "Differentiating Factors" and apply as needed.

Additional University Home Pages of Interest to Folklorists

University of Pennsylvania: Department of Folklore and Folklife
University of Southern Mississippi:   Center for Oral History and Cultural Hertitage "
Directory of Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts by Professor D. L. Ashliman
Folkstreams A National Preserve of Documentary Films about American Roots Cultures
News from the Library of Congress

International Organizations

The British Columbia Folklore Society
Estonian Folklore Archives - Electronic Journal of Folklore - articles are free to read
Baltic Institute of Folklore

Regional Societies

Digital Tradtitions Home to a wealth of folk traditions, South Carolina is culturally and geographically diverse.  From the Appalachian Mountains to the Sea Islands and from rural crossroads to urban centers, the state boasts rich sources of traditional culture and folklore.

Folklore and Folklife Around the United States

American Folklore Society Traditional Arts Program Net by the NEA Public Sector Directory: Potential Partnership Organization

AFS Public Program Section Folklorist Directory
1999 Public Folklorist Directory and Special Interest Sites

AFS membership directory
, AFS members can be located by typing in their name

The Library of Congress - Sound recordings in the National Recording Registry. In accordance with the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-474), the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington will name culturally, historically or aesthetically significant sound recordings to the National Recording Registry. The Act sets forth a program to ensure the preservation of our heritage in sound and includes the establishment of the National Recording Preservation Board and National Recording Preservation Foundation, in addition to founding the Registry in the Library of Congress. Sound recordings must be culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or reflect life in the United States. They must also be at least ten years old. A complete listing of the criteria, as well as further information about the Registry and the National Recording Preservation Board may be found at the National Recording Preservation Board National Recording Registry, c/o M/B/RS, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540-4698.

Folklife Grants

  • National Endowment For The Humanities Reviews Funding For Folklore Projects
    For OnLine GrantMaking. CyberGrants has streamlined the entire grant application and management process.
  • Fund for Folk Culture help people applying to the FFC, but great for anyone writing a grant proposal. The FFC site has a Folklorist Consultant Bank.
  • NEH Grants Available
  • States National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
    1029 Vermont Avenue, NW, 2nd Floor
    Washington, DC 20005
    tel: 202-347-6352 fax: 202-737-0526 TDD: 202-347-5948
  • Heritage Arts Services
  • National Endowment for the Arts Guideline Guidelines and Applications
    Guidelines for the Folk & Traditional Arts Infrastructure Just click on "Grants" and then "Apply for a Grant." The deadline is the same (October 1) as in previous years and the same general restrictions apply, i.e. applications are limited to state arts agencies or organizations working in collaboration with state arts agencies. There is a limit of one application per state, with the exception of designated regional arts organizations. The Deadlines for the upcoming grant year: Questions? Contact Barry Bergey 202/682-5726 Folk & Traditional Arts National Endowment for the Arts.
    Rose Morgan 202/682-5678 Folk Arts grants specialist, get a hard copy of the guidelines mailed to you, call 202-682-5428 and leave your name and address.
  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts can help you form your non profit organization

Research, Projects, and Additional Sites of Interest

2007 AFS has joined with history and oral history organizations in this present campaign to advocate for the exemption of most folklore research from IRB review. Threat Seen To Oral History

The U.S. Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), working in conjunction with the American Historical Association and the Oral History general do not involve the type of research defined by HHS regulations and are therefore excluded from Institutional Review Board oversight. At the October 2003 meeting of the Oral History Association in Bethesda, Maryland, George Pospisil of the OHRP's Division of Education and Development, explained the OHRP decision regarding the application of the “Common Rule” (45 CFR part 46), which sets regulations governing research involving human subjects. These federal regulations define research as “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” The type of research encompassed by the regulations involves standard questionnaires with a large sample of individuals who often remain anonymous, not the open-ended interviews with identifiable individuals who give their interviews with “informed consent”that characterizes oral history. Only those oral history projects that conform to the regulatory definition of research will now need to submit their research protocols for IRB review.
Following is the text of a policy statement that was developed by the Oral History Association and the American Historical Association in consultation with the Office of Human Research Protection. This policy applies to oral history that takes place within an institution that has filed a multiple project assurance with OHRP. As one of the seventeen federal agencies that have signed on to the Common Rule, the Department of Health and Human Services deals most directly with the type of clinical research that the federal regulations were originally intended to cover, and its concurrence with the policy statement should set the way for a uniform interpretation by other federal agencies. Oral historians should make this statement available to department chairs, directors of graduate study, deans, and other officers concerned with institutional compliance with federal regulations.

Donald A. Ritchie,
Oral History Association
Linda Shopes
American Historical Association

Application of the Department of Health and Human Services Regulations for the Protection of Human Subjects at 45 CFR Part 46, Subpart A to Oral History Interviewing
Most oral history interviewing projects are not subject to the requirements of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations for the protection of human subjects at 45 CFR part 46, subpart A, and can be excluded from institutional review board (IRB) oversight because they do not involve research as defined by the HHS regulations. HHS regulations at 45 CFR 46.102(D) define research as “ a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” The Oral History Association defines oral history as “a method of gathering and preserving historical information through recorded interviews with participants in past events and ways of life.”
It is primarily on the grounds that oral history interviews, in general, are not designed to contribute to “generalizable knowledge” that they are not subject to the requirements of the HHS regulations at 45 CFR part 46 and, therefore, can be excluded from IRB review. Although the HHS regulations do not define “generalizable knowledge,” it is reasonable to assume that they term does not simply mean knowledge that lends itself to generalizations, which characterizes every form of scholarly inquiry and human communication. While historians reach for meaning that goes beyond the specific subject of their inquiry, unlike researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences they do not reach for generalizable principles of historical or social development, nor do they seek underlying principles or laws of nature that have predictive value and can be applied to other circumstances for the purpose of controlling outcomes. Historians explain a particular past; they do not create general explanations about all that has happened in the past, nor do they predict the future.
Moreover, oral history narrators are not anonymous individuals, selected as part of a random sample for the purposes of a survey. Nor are they asked to respond to a standard questionnaire administered to a broad swath of the population. Those interviewed are specific individuals selected because of their often unique relationship to the topic at hand. Open-ended questions are tailored to the experiences of the individual narrator. Although interviews are guided by professional protocols, the way any individual interview unfolds simply cannot be predicted. An interview gives a unique perspective on the topic at hand; a series of interviews offer up not similar “generalizable” information but a variety of particular perspectives on the topic.
For these reasons, then, oral history interviewing, in general, does not meet the regulatory definition of research as articulated in 45 CFR part 46. The Office for Human Research Protections concurs with this policy statement, and it is essential that such an interpretation be made available to the many IRBs currently grappling with issues of human subject research.

Online Publications

Art and Media

  • Folk Art and Craft Exchange
  • The Media History Exchange
  • University of California-Los Angeles: Online Archive of American Folk Medicine
    The Archive of American Folk Medicine is the result of more than 50 years of work by UCLA-associated folklorists who "documented beliefs and practices relating to folk medicine and alternative healthcare. Online Archive of American Folk Medicine was established in 1996.The Archive draws from over 3,200 published works, and is intended to serve folklorists, sociologists, and historians. Users should be aware that the Archive website has not been updated in several years but it remains a valuable resource forresearchers and others interested in folk medicine.

The Folklore Jobs

The web version is available at:
Announcements for new jobs should be sent to <>
Stephanie A. Hall, <>
Library of Congress American Folklife Center
101 Independence Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20540-461

About Bess Lomax Hawes


NEA is establishing an award named for the noted folklorist and performer Bess Lomax Hawes.
Hawes started performing in the 1930s, joining Pete Seeger as a member of the groundbreaking Almanac Singers and co-writing the classic "Charlie on the MTA." In 1975 Hawes started and helped produce the Smithsonian's Bicentennial Folklife Festival and then joined the NEA in 1977 as an administrator. She created the Heritage Fellowships Program during her 16-years as director of the NEA's folk arts division. President Clinton honored her with a National Medal of Arts in 1993. The Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship recognizes extraordinary 'keepers of tradition' who teach, collect, preserve and advocate folk and traditional arts.
The Hawes award will be part of the annual National Heritage Fellowships, the government's tribute to artists who have spent their creative lives in traditional crafts, such as ironwork, or preserving musical, vocal or dance forms.
Hawes represents one of the most influential families in American folklore. Her father, John Lomax, a collector of the songs and stories of the South, headed the folk song archive at the Library of Congress. Her brother, Alan Lomax, stands as one of the leading documentarians of folk singing.
First recipient of the Hawes award will be Chris Strachwitz, a German refugee who founded Arhoolie Records in 1960. The label records little-known musicians in the areas of blues, gospel, norteno conjunto, Cajun, zydeco and old-time country, and has brought their music to broader audiences.
The other honorees for this year's fellowships: Bounxou Chanthraphone, a Laotian weaver from Brooklyn Park, Minn.; the Dixie Hummingbirds, an African American gospel quartet from Philadelphia; Felipe Garcia Villamil, an Afro-Cuban drummer from Los Angeles; Jose Gonzalez, a hammock weaver from San Sebastian, Puerto Rico; Nettie Jackson, a Klickitat basketmaker from White Swan, Wash.; Santiago Jimenez Jr., a Tejano accordionist and singer from San Antonio. Also: Genoa Keawe, a singer and ukulele player from Honolulu; Frankie Manning, a Lindy Hop dancer and choreographer from Corona, N.Y.; Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, a blues piano player from La Porte, Ind. RIP at 97, March 21, 2011
(Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, 75, September 16, played with Pinetop Perkins} Konstantinos Pilarinos, an Orthodox Byzantine icon wood carver from Astoria, N.Y.; Dorothy Thompson, a weaver from Davis, W.Va.; and Don Walser, a western singer and guitarist from Austin.
Each recipient, including Strachwitz, will receive $10,000 and be honored at a ceremony in Washington in September 2000


About Ella Jenkins

From the beginning of her career in 1956, GRAMMY-nominated folk singer Ella Jenkins has been a cornerstone of children's music. Over the course of the past five decades, she has established herself as a musician whose reach extends beyond her target audience into the realm of adults and educators. Jenkins was the first performer to take her music into schools and teach music while incorporating respect for diversity. She has educated children about everything from reading and geography to multiculturalism and the environment, and through her famous Adventures in Rhythm workshops, she has taught music teachers as well. Literally thousands of musicians who now make their living performing in schools and family concerts are indebted to Jenkins for paving the way.

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