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Image: Benjamin Botkin
Benjamin A. Botkin, former head of the Archive of American Folk Song, Library of Congress. Photo courtesy of the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series

Through the Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series, the American Folklife Center presents the best of current research and practice in Folklore, Folklife, and closely related fields. The series invites professionals from academia and the public sector to present findings from their research. The lectures are free and open to the public. In addition, each lecture is recorded for permanent deposit in the Archive of Folk Culture, where researchers can access them.

Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975) was a pioneering folklorist who believed that people continually create folklore out of their collective experiences. He was national folklore editor of the Federal Writers' Project (1938-39), chief editor of the Writers' Unit of the Library of Congress Project (1939-1941), head of the Archive of American Folksong (1942-45), and author of numerous folklore treasuries. The American Folklife Center is indebted to his work as both a folklorist and a government official. For all these reasons, the American Folklife Center has chosen to name this lecture series in his honor. Select this link for a biographical sketch, " Benjamin Botkin's Legacy-in-the-Making," by Jerrold Hirsch.

2014 Botkin Lectures

Thursday, May 1, 2014
12:00 Noon to 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theatre, James Madison Building

Candacy Taylor
Candacy Taylor.

American Roots: Hairdressers and Beauty Shop Culture in America, presented by Candacy Taylor

An award-winning author and photographer and an Archie Green Fellow, Candacy Taylor traveled over 20,000 miles throughout the US interviewing hair stylists who serve African American, Appalachian, Cajun, Dominican, Gullah Geechee, Jamaican, Japanese, Jewish (Orthodox), Lumbee Indian, Pakistani and LGBT communities. Although the practice of styling hair may appear to be based in vanity, hairdressing traditions and styling practices reflect our belief systems about race, class and cultural production. From the hills of San Francisco to the hills of the Appalachian Mountains; from the tip of Provincetown, Massachusetts to the tip of the Gullah Geechee Islands in South Carolina; and from the Lumbee Indians, who were here before there was an America, to Pakistanis who just arrived in Queens, this multimedia presentation gives unprecedented access into the intimate space of the salon. Come and learn what Taylor discovered about hair, culture and identity in America.

Candacy Taylor’s work has been featured in The New Yorker, USA Today, The Wall St. Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle (Cover), AARP, Ms. Magazine, Photographer’s Forum (cover), Library Journal, and on PRI’s To the Best of Our Knowledge. Her book and exhibit “Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress” made Southwest Airlines’ top ten list of things to see in the US and a television pilot was developed by ABC. Taylor owns the company Taylor Made Culture.

Thursday, June 5, 2014
12:00 Noon to 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theatre, James Madison Building

Filmmaker Michael Ford
Michael Ford.

Homeplace Mississippi: a Cultural Journey, presented by Documentarian Michael Ford, Yellow Cat Productions, Washington, DC

During the early 1970s, filmmaker Michael Ford lived in and documented traditional music, farming practices, blacksmithing, molasses-making, and other aspects of community life in La Fayette, Marshall, Tate, and Panola Counties, Mississippi. Portions of his material were published in his documentary film Homeplace (1975). Recently, Ford's important collection of films and photographs documenting grassroots community life in northern Mississippi was acquired by the American Folklife Center archive. To celebrate this recent acquisition and to discuss his experiences in the 1970s as well as talk about his on-going work documenting life and culture in contemporary Mississippi, Mr. Ford joins Amreican Folklife Center archivist Todd Harvey for a program highlighting his work.

Botkin Lecture Series Past Events Archive

Includes descriptions of each lecture, photos, and informational essays from the event flyers. Links to webcasts of lectures are included as available.

2014 Lecture Series

2013 Lecture Series

2012 Lecture Series

2011 Lecture Series

2010 Lecture Series

2009 Lecture Series

2008 Lecture Series

2007 Lecture Series

2006 Lecture Series

2005 Lecture Series

2004 Lecture Series


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   April 15, 2014
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