skip navigation  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
AFC Logo The American Folklife Center
A - Z Index
home >> about the center >> awards

Research Awards

The American Folklife Center's competitive awards provide modest financial awards for scholars interested in working with ethnographic collection materials at the Library of Congress and for those individuals conducting fieldwork on topics related to the aims and scope of folklife research. Descriptions of these programs and awards follow.

The Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund Award

Photograph of Gerald E. Parsons, Jr.
Gerald E. Parsons, Jr. Founder of the Parsons Fund Award.

The Parsons Fund Committee for the Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund for Ethnography at the Library of Congress invites applications for grant funds for 2008. The committee is composed of the professional staff of the American Folklife Center. Awards may be made in amounts ranging from $400 to $1500.

Purpose of Award and Eligibility

The purpose of the fund is to make the collections of primary ethnographic materials housed anywhere at the Library of Congress available to the needs and uses of those in the private sector. Awards may be made either to individuals or to organizations in support of specific projects.

Scope of Projects

Projects may lead to publication in media of all types, both commercial and non-commercial; underwrite new works of art, music, or fiction; involve academic research; contribute to the theoretical development of archival science; explore practical possibilities for processing ethnographic collections in the Archive of Folk Culture or elsewhere in the Library of Congress; develop new means of providing reference service; support student work; experiment with conservation techniques; and support ethnographic field research leading to new Library acquisitions.

Application Deadlines and Procedures

The application deadline for this year's Parsons Fund award is March 20, 2008. Please review application materials prior to submitting them to the Center to ensure that all the following elements are included. Incomplete applications will not be considered. In the past, successful applicants have consulted with AFC staff members prior to submitting their application.

The application consists of:

  • A narrative, 750-1500 words long, describing the proposed project and its potential products and audiences
  • A budget and proposed time-frame in which to undertake research (typically for periods of one to three weeks)
  • A resume or statement of previous experience
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of three referees who can attest to the applicant's professional work and qualifications to undertake the project
  • Please do not submit photographs, videotapes, CDs, or any physical material

Because of security measures at the Library, US Mail and Federal Express may be delayed for over one month and sensitive media such as photographs may be damaged or destroyed. Therefore, we strongly recommend that applications be submitted as Word- or WordPerfect-formatted documents or .pdf files, attached to an email with the subject line "[your last name] Parsons 08 application." Address the email to the Parsons Fund Committee at: You may also fax all materials to: (202) 707-2076. If you have any questions about procedures, please address your query to the Chair, Parsons Fund Committee at the email or fax listed above or call (202) 707-5510.

Past Recipients


  • Michael McCoyer: to support his research on levee camps and Mississippi Delta life in the early 20th century using the Coahoma County materials in the Alan Lomax Collection and other Library resources.
  • Kathleen Ryan: to support her research on "Propaganda, Memory and Oral History in World War II Female Veterans," using Veterans History Project materials and other Library resources.


  • Eileen M. Condon: for research on Puerto Rican traditional music in Dutchess County, New York.
  • Sydney Hutchinson: to support doctoral work in ethnomusicology at New York University for a research project titled "Analysis of Musical Change in Dominican Merengue Típico".
  • Linda Goss: for research on African-American storytelling traditions.


  • David Stanley: to research collection materials related to cowboy ballad performers, including correspondence, transcriptions, and ephemera in several Library Divisions.
  • David Hoffman: to conduct research on symposia, public hearings, position papers and other materials related to US national policy on the topic of indigenous rights and cultural and environmental conservation.


  • Andrea Frierson-Toney: to research African-American traditional music from Gee's Bend, AL, in the Robert Sonkin Collection. Research on the performance tradition will be adapted into a theatrical production.


  • Nicole Saylor: to create a web page highlighting the ethnographic fieldwork of Sidney Robertson Cowell (1903-1995) in Wisconsin. This site will be an addition to the Mills Music Library's Helene Stratman-Thomas project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Now available:


  • No award


  • Barrett Golding: to support the creation of two public radio programs presenting music and stories from Florida using WPA-era material from the Archive's collections. This also included an interview with Stetson Kennedy, head of the WPA Florida project.
  • Nancy-Jean Seigel: to support her work researching, organizing, and adding to the files of the Helen Hartness Flanders Collection in the Archive of Folk Culture.
  • Mark Jackson: to support the creation and publication of a CD based on the music and spoken words of John Handcox, a sharecropper and member of the Arkansas-based Southern Tenant Farmer's Union who was recorded at the Library of Congress in 1937.


  • Larry Polansky: to support research for the publication of work on folksong transcription and notation by the ethnographer Ruth Crawford Seeger.
  • Anne Laskey & Gail Needleman: to undertake research for educational music textbooks using folksong based on the Kodály method.


  • Susan Lutz: to support for research on a documentary film entitled Sunday Dinner: Food, Land, and Free Time.
  • Yücel Demirer: to locate representations of Kurdish national identity in the Woodrow Wilson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.



  • William T. Dargan: to fund for research project on African-American lining-out hymn performance.
  • Lucy Long: to support research on the Appalachian plucked dulcimer.


  • Julia Bishop: to support research on The James Madison Carpenter Collection.

The Henry Reed Fund Award

Photograph of Henry Reed
Henry Reed, fiddler

The American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, invites applications for an award of up to $1,500 from the Henry Reed Fund for Folk Artists. Applications are due no later than April 25, 2008; awards will be announced by May 15.

The Henry Reed Fund was established in 1990 in honor of old-time fiddler Henry Reed, with an initial gift from founding AFC director and fiddler Alan Jabbour. The purpose of the fund is to provide support for activities directly involving folk artists, especially when the activities reflect, draw upon, or strengthen the collections of the American Folklife Center.

Projects and activities might include:

  • Payments to folk artists, their families, their descendants, or their cultural communities in connection with publication or dissemination of documents (audio recordings, manuscripts, photographs, etc.) in the American Folklife Center's collections.
  • Honoraria or reimbursement to folk artists for programs, such as concerts, workshops, or exhibitions, which feature those folk artists and their arts.
  • Programs honoring and celebrating folk artists for their cultural contributions.
  • Support for the costs of documenting distinguished folk artists and the acquisition of resulting documentation by the Library of Congress.

Application Deadline and Procedures:

Applicants for Henry Reed Fund awards should submit a two-to-three-page description of their proposed project, with a budget and schedule of project activities. AFC staff members are happy to discuss proposals with applicants prior to submission (see contact information below).

Applications should also include a résumé, artist bio, or statement of previous experience, and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three references who are qualified to speak about the applicant's work.

Because of security measures at the Library, materials sent via the U.S. Postal Service or express-mail services may be significantly delayed, and sensitive media, such as CDs and photographs, may be damaged or destroyed. Therefore, we strongly recommend that applications only be submitted as Word- or WordPerfect-formatted documents or .pdf files, attached to an email with the subject line: "[your last name] Reed Fund application." Address the email to the Henry Reed Fund Committee at: You may also fax all materials to (202)707-2076.

If you do wish to send supporting audio-visual materials, please pack them in a three-dimensional box (not a flat box) with a lightweight filler, and send it via a service that offers a tracking number, such as Federal Express, USPS Express Mail, or DHL. (Note: Supporting materials will NOT be returned to the applicants.) To mail these parcels, use the address below and mark "Fragile."

Library of Congress AFC 20540-4610
c/o American Folklife Center - Henry Reed Fund
9140 East Hampton Drive
Capital Heights, MD 20743-3809

If you have questions, contact Jennifer Cutting, Chair of the Henry Reed Fund Committee, at or call (202) 707-5510. Applications are due no later than April 25, 2008.

Past Recipients


  • Jeri Vaughn of Seattle, Washington: to support reunion concert appearances for old-time fiddle and guitar duo Robert and Lee Stripling in their home town of Kennedy, Alabama and to subsidize Vaughn's 30-minute documentary film of the brothers' reunion tour.


  • Elizabeth LaPrelle of Rural Retreat, Virginia: to fund travel allowing this 16-year-old Appalachian ballad singer to perform and compete at music gatherings during the summer of 2004, and to surround herself with older singers from whom she could learn traditional songs, style, and aesthetics.

The Blanton Owen Fund Award

Photograph of Blanton Owen
Blanton Owen, folklorist

The Blanton Owen Fund Award will not be granted during 2008. The award was established in 1999 in memory of folklorist Blanton Owen by his family and friends to support ethnographic field research and documentation in the United States, especially by young scholars and documentarians. Currently, this award is offered every other year.

Awards are typically between $400 and $1000. The application and submission procedure is the same as for the Parsons Fund award, detailed above.

For questions, contact the chair of the Blanton Owen Fund Committee at the American Folklife Center: (202) 707-5510;; Fax (202) 707-2076.

Past Recipients of the Blanton Owen Fund Award


  • Clifford Murphy: Mr. Murphy documented the traditions and expressions of Country and Western musicians in the state of Maine.
  • Karen N. Brewster: Ms. Brewster conducted an ethnography exploring ecology, belief and culture as expressed in found object folk art creations of Native Americans in the Lower Yukon River Valley.


  • Sandra Grady: Ms Grady performed ethnographic fieldwork among Somali Bantu refugees being resettled in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Jaman Matthews: Mr. Matthews documented life in the Mississippi Delta in photographs and fieldnotes.
  • Carrie Leonard: Ms. Leonard documented Inupiaq life in Noorvik, Alaska, in photographs.


  • Yolanda Hood: Ms. Hood performed ethnographic fieldwork among Nigerians living in Atlanta, Georgia.


  Back to Top


  home >> about the center >> grants

A - Z Index
  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
  July 3, 2008
Contact Us:
Ask a Librarian