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Resources for Family Folklife and History

Folklife | Manuals | Directories |Genealogy |Projects | Reunions |Collection Care | Print Publications


Folklife and Ethnographic Research

Manuals, Guides, and Educational Resources

Directories of Folklife, Oral History, and Cultural Documentation Organizations

Genealogy and Family History

Ongoing National Documentary Projects

Following is a list of ongoing projects that are engaged in collecting folklore and oral history to provide examples for researchers. Most of these sites also provide educational materials for teachers. Some projects may accept participation by people who wish to be interviewed or by interviewers who are able to provide interviews that meet their requirements.

  • The National Visionary Leadership Project.External Link NVLP has created the National Registry of African American Oral Histories to provide a national database of these collections. A list of repositories that will accept collections from this project is also available on the web site.
  • StoryCorps.External Link A national non-profit project of Sound Portraits Productions External Link undertaken in partnership with the Library of Congress. The web site provides information on the project and guidelines for participants. This organization and its web site are not part of the Library of Congress. The collections, however, are donated to the Library and are available in the American Folklife Center Reading Room.
  • Veterans History Project. American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Provides a fieldwork kit for the documentation of military and non-military participants in conflicts from World War I to the present. The video and audio recordings of these interviews will be housed at the American Folklife Cente and available to the public.

Family Reunions

  • Family Reunion List.External Link A list of online resources by Benjamin J. Ford, II. (This link is outside the Library of Congress site. It is a non-commercial site, providing links to both commercial and non-commercial resources. Included is a directory of family reunions in the U.S., organized by surname.)

Organizing and Caring for Information Collected in Your Family History Project

Archival Guides

  • Ethnographic Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture: A Contributor's Guide. A booklet by Stephanie A. Hall, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Includes advice that will help collectors organize, house, and mark collections to be kept at home and prepare materials for donation to an archive.
  • Folklife and Fieldwork. Booklet by Peter Bartis, American Folklife Center (online and in print. Spanish-language version available in PDF online or in print).
  • Preserving Your Family Treasures. Preservation Directorate, Library of Congress. Includes information on how to preserve recordings, photographs, films, videos, books, documents, and artifacts.

Preservation of Family Treasures


Paper Documents

Albums, Bibles, Books, Diaries and Scrapbooks

Photographs including Negatives, Prints, Slides, and Transparencies

Recorded Sound, Film, Video, and Magnetic Computer Storage Media

Emergency Procedures

Print Publications on Family Foklife and Oral History

  • Bogart, Barbara Allen and William Lynwood Montell. From Memory to History: Using Oral Sources for Historical Research. American Association for State and Local History, 1981.
  • Cutting-Baker, Holly, and Amy Kotkin. Family Folklore. Washington, DC: Family Folklife Program, Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, 1976.
  • Linda Barnickel. Oral History for the Family Historian. Oral History Association, 2006. (Booklet.)
  • Zeitlin, Steve, Amy Kotkin, and Holly Cutting-Baker. A Celebration of American Family Folklore: Tales and Traditions From the Smithsonian Collection. Pantheon Books, 1982.


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   September 26, 2018
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