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United States Public Folklore: The Watershed Years

Film by American Folklore Society
Produced by Public Programs Section of the American Folklore Society
Cinematographer: John Bishop, Chris Simon, Mark Puryear
Sound: John Bishop, Chris Simon, Mark Puryear, Terry Liu
Editing: Chris Simon, Matt Kjar
Copyright: American Folklore Society
57 minutes, Color
Original format: DV Mini, 2008
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Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to American Folklore Society or to the distributor, American Folklore Society.



Although the field of folklore in the United States has always had a lively public front since its founding in the late 19th century, the late 1960s and the 1970s were watershed years for American Public folklore, during which several of the main national and international institutions in the field came into being and developed their signature programs. The interviews presented here tell some of the stories behind the creation and growth of three of those institutions: the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife (now the Smithsonian Folklife Festival), the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and the Folk and Traditional Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The interviewees -- Alan Jabbour, Richard Kurin, Archie Green, Bess Lomax Hawes, and Dan Sheehy -- were active participants in this history.

This video is divided into three parts that play automatically in order as a playlist. Part 1 focuses on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Part 2 on the formation for the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and Part 3 on the formation of the Folk and Traditional Arts program at the National Endowment for the Arts. The film shows how dedicated people with political savvy and will, can influence government policy towards traditional art.


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