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Benjamin A. Botkin head and shoulders portrait
Folklorist Benjamin A. Botkin, 1926. Photo courtesy of the Botkin family.

Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series

Through the Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series, the American Folklife Center (AFC) presents distinguished experts speaking about their research and current issues and best practices in folklore, folklife, ethnomusicology, and related fields. Lectures are recorded for the AFC archive and posted on the Library's website. (See below for list of speakers and topics.) The series honors Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975), a pioneering folklorist who headed the Library's Archive of American Folksong from 1942-1945.

2017 Botkin Lectures

Repatriating the Alan Lomax Haitian Recordings in Post-Quake Haiti
Gage Averill, Dean of Arts, University of British Columbia

Gage Averill
Gage Averill

March 15, 2017
Noon-1:00 p.m.
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

In 2009, ethnomusicologist Gage Averill edited and compiled the CD box set Alan Lomax in Haiti 1936-1937 and wrote the accompanying Grammy-nominated notes. The recordings were selected from the original Alan Lomax field recordings and materials in the Library of Congress American Folklife Center archive. Averill will speak about the project and the difficulties as well as the joys and discoveries made in the process of returning the recordings to Haiti in the period after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Professor Averill is Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of British Columbia and was formerly Vice-Principal Academic and Dean of the University of Toronto Mississauga, Dean of Music at the University of Toronto, and Chair of New York University's Department of Music. An ethnomusicologist specializing in popular music of the Caribbean and North American vernacular music, he served as President of the Society for Ethnomusicology from 2009-2011. His book on barbershop singing, Four Parts, No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony (2003), won best book prizes from the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for American Music. His book on Haitian popular music and power, A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey: Popular Music and Power in Haiti (1997), was awarded the best book prize in ethnic and folk research by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. His 10-CD boxed set of music, film, and accompanying books, Alan Lomax in Haiti, 1936-37, was named an Outstanding Project for 2010 by the Clinton Global Initiative and received two Grammy Nominations.

Open Mic with Jayme Stone and Todd Harvey

Jayme Stone holding a banjo
Jayme Stone

May 4, 2017
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

Banjoist and composer Jayme Stone is a long-time researcher at the American Folklife Center. During the Open Mic talk, Alan Lomax Collection curator Todd Harvey will ask Jayme to talk about his discoveries in the AFC archive. He will focus on Jayme’s re-imagining of archival recordings, specifically Alan Lomax recordings. Todd will then turn to Jayme’s performing career in general and how the Lomax Project  has impacted his career trajectory.

Two-time Juno-winning banjoist, composer, and instigator Jayme Stone makes music inspired by sounds from around the world—bridging folk, jazz and chamber music. His award-winning albums both defy and honor the banjo's long role in the world's music, turning historical connections into compelling sounds. He will perform at the Library of Congress on May 4, 2017 at noon in the Coolidge Auditorium, Jayme Stone's Lomax Project.

Film screening and discussion: Mill Stories: Remembering Sparrows Point Steel Mill Co-directed by William Shewbridge (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) and Michelle Stefano (American Folklife Center)

Steel mill in the sunset
Mill Stories: Remembering Sparrows Point Steel Mill

May 11, 2017
Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor, James Madison Building
Library of Congress

Mill Stories: Remembering Sparrows Point Steel Mill (35 mins) spotlights the memories and stories of former workers of the Sparrows Point Steel Mill that was, until recently, located on the water outside Baltimore, Maryland. Created by the Pennsylvania Steel Company in 1887, and taken over by Bethlehem Steel in 1916, the mill became the world’s largest center for producing steel – evident in the girders of the Golden Gate, George Washington, and Bay Bridges – and for shipbuilding. As a key production site during both World Wars, Sparrows Point peaked during the 1960s and saw a gradual decline in the decades that followed. For 125 years, tens of thousands of steel workers and associated personnel have known the mill not only as a place of employment, but as the center of community life.

In 2012, the mill was shuttered forever, devastating its workers – both active and retired – their families, and surrounding communities. Nonetheless, this is a story that lives on in their hearts and minds. As part of the larger Mill Stories project, the film aims to safeguard and promote the living cultural heritage of the recently closed mill, and to help amplify the voices of those who knew it best.

This event is co-sponsored by the Library of Congress Professional Guild AFSCME Local 2910 and the American Folklife Center.

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.

2016 Lecture Series

2015 Lecture Series

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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   March 8, 2017
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