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Laborlore Conversations IV: Documenting Occupational Folklore Then and
August 15-16, 2007 • Library of Congress, Washington, DC
A Symposium Presented by The American Folklife Center and the Fund for Labor History and Culture
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About the Symposium
The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress will host
a symposium, Laborlore Conversations IV:
Documenting Occupational Folklore Then and Now, from
August 15-16, 2007. Scholars and
community workers will engage in dialogues and discussions on the history
of documenting laborlore/occupational folklife, in particular some
of the significant collections of work culture housed at the Library.
The symposium aims to provide a forum within which to examine the ethnographic
work of several generations of documentary field workers, explore the
resonance of archival collections for contemporary research on work
and community life and critically analyze emerging issues that confront
labor scholars, advocates and community members in a rapidly globalizing
Archie Green in his San Francisco home, 2006. Photo
courtesy of Robert Hazen Walker.
will also present a rare opportunity to honor the exemplary
career of the "dean of laborlore," Archie
Green. Beginning in the post-war years, Green's seminal investigations
into the expressive cultural traditions of a broad range of working communities
-- miners, tinsmiths, textile workers, railroad workers, coal miners,
and cowboys -- influenced a generation of scholarship
on occupational culture
life. He is a noted labor historian,
union organizer, shipwright and also emeritus university professor
of Folklore and English.
Selected Archival Collections and Online Presentations
of Laborlore at the AFC
While many AFC collections of documentary recordings bear some
relationship to occupational folklife, the following collections
are especially relevant to the symposium. Please contact
the Archive of Folk Culture reference staff to access these
and other materials in the Folklife Reading Room.
George Korson collections of miners' lore: Korson
extensively documented Pennsylvania and West Virginia
mining traditions in the 1940s and 1950s, especially music and
Lathe operator Humberto Reales working at Watson Machine International, a machine tool manufacturing company, Paterson, NJ, 1994. Photograph by Robert McCarl.
Wayland Hand collection of miners'
lore: Documents the silver miners of Butte, Montana,
in the late 1940s.
Working in Paterson Collection: This
large collection from the mid-1990s documents the industrial
and business traditions of Paterson, New Jersey, including the
textile industry, machine shops, and the food industry, and
is especially strong in its survey of the ethnic
groups in Paterson’s workplaces. An online presentation of the
collection is available on the Web: Working
in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting.
Lowell Folklife Project Collection: Documents
the industrial and ethnic traditions of Lowell, Massachusetts,
from the late 1980s. For more information see the Finding
Aid to this collection.
Men's Lives Collection: Documents
the commercial fishing culture of surfmen and baymen on the
East End of Long Island, New York, in the 1980s. The fieldwork
was sponsored by Adelaide de Menil and The Rock Foundation.
Myron Smart roping cattle on the Ninety-Six Ranch, Paradise
Valley, NV, 1980. Photograph by
Paradise Valley Folklife Project Collection : Includes
documentation of a Nevada cattle-ranching community, with a
focus on the family-run Ninety-Six Ranch. The documentation
was largely the work of the Paradise Valley Folklife Project (1978-19October 16, 2008able on the Web: Buckaroos
in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982.
George Carey Collection of Interviews and
Narratives from Maryland and Virginia: In the late 1960s,
Carey conducted more than 200 interviews with residents of
the Eastern Shore of Maryland and coastal Virginia, concentrating
on occupational traditions.
James A. Strates Carnival Collection: Includes
recordings of carnival pitchmen at work and interviews with
carnival workers. Recorded in Washington, DC, spring 1941.
Florida Maritime Heritage Project: In the late 1980s
the AFC documented the maritime occupations of the north Florida
coast. AFC staff member David Taylor was the
lead investigator for this project.
Alabama State Council on the Arts Collection on Gandy Dancers: Late
1980s documentation of African American railroad section gang workers.
Maine Acadian Cultural Survey: This
1991 collection documents the forestry and sawmill work of the
Maine-New Brunswick Acadian culture. For more information see
Aid to this collection.
Please consult our selected
list of books,
essays, recordings, and other resources to
familiarize yourself with the core concepts and themes that will
be addressed during the symposium.