April 15, 2021 New Season of 'America Works' Podcast Launches in Celebration of Resiliency of the American Workforce

Season Features First-Hand Accounts of a Port Worker, Electrician, Nurse, Waste Collector and More

Press Contact: Leah Knobel lknobel@loc.gov
Public Contact: John Fenn jofe@loc.gov
Website: Library of Congress Podcasts

Sarah Fortin is a fish net maker in New Bedford, Massachusetts, one of the country's most important fishing ports. Listen to Fortin discuss her on-the-job experiences in this season of "America Works."

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is bringing more workers’ voices from around the country to listeners with the second season of “America Works,” a podcast series celebrating the diversity, resilience and creativity of the American workforce during a time of economic challenge and transition.

Each 10-minute episode of “America Works” introduces listeners to an individual worker whose first-person narrative adds to the wealth of our shared national experience. The first episode is now available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and at loc.gov/podcasts. Subsequent episodes will be released each Thursday through June 3, 2021.

“America Works is a testament to the wisdom, wit, knowledge and dedication of today’s working Americans,” said Nancy Groce, host of “America Works” and senior folklife specialist at the American Folklife Center. “It is inspirational to listen to their stories and insights and realize how many committed, thoughtful and creative fellow citizens are out there working to improve their communities, support their families and build a better future for all of us.”

Listen to a trailer for “America Works” and subscribe here: https://loc.gov/podcasts/america-works/

Given the serious economic challenges everyday Americans face during the COVID-19 pandemic, the stories told in “America Works” are a timely reminder of the spirit of the American workforce. The insights of those featured will be added to the historical record of the nation’s library.

Each “America Works” episode is based on a longer interview from the American Folklife Center’s ongoing Occupational Folklife Project, a multi-year initiative to document the culture of contemporary American workers. Over the past 12 years, fieldworkers from the American Folklife Center have interviewed more than 1,200 working Americans and documented their experiences in more than 100 professions. More than 500 of these full-length interviews are now available online.

This season of “America Works” reflects the occupational and regional diversity that characterize the entirety of the Occupational Folklife Project’s collection. In the season’s first episode, listeners are introduced to Sarah Fortin, a fish net maker in New Bedford, Massachusetts, one of the country’s most important fishing ports. Fortin, a local to the community, discusses gaining the necessary skillset for her trade and the challenges faced as a young female worker.

“There’s been a bit of a struggle here and there with some of the old-timers because they don’t, they’re just not used to seeing a woman that knows as much about the twine and stuff,” Fortin said. “I’ll get that little, like, ‘Damn, you’re really going for a girl. Like, look at you!’ You know? Stuff like that, but it’s all positive.”

Other featured workers of the season include Kim Spicer, an electrician and journey wire-woman, and a proud member of The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local #3, in Queens, New York. Jennifer Sgro is a nurse practitioner who provides treatment to residents of Chicago for the nonprofit The Night Ministry’s outreach bus, which travels to different low-income neighborhoods every evening. Mike Peabody of Montpelier, Vermont, is a garbage man who also leads the New England community’s recycling program.   

Eight new episodes join those from the first season of “America Works,” which launched in August 2020. The first season is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and at loc.gov/podcasts.

About the American Folklife Center
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival presentation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The Center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

About the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

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PR 21-017
2021-04-15
ISSN 0731-3527