skip navigation  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
AFC Logo The American Folklife Center
A - Z Index
home >> collections & research services >> how to do research

How to do research in the Archive of Folk Culture

This page provides guidance for researchers visiting the Archive of Folk Culture. While appointments are not necessary, we recommend that you contact the Reference Staff before your visit to allow us enough time to locate collection materials and to provide you with any additional information you might need. Our hours are M-F, 8:30am-5:00pm, except Federal Holidays.

All researchers to the Library of Congress must obtain a Reader Registration Card. The Folklife Reading Room (where Archive collections are accessed) is located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, Room G53.

Keep in mind that the Library of Congress has numerous Reading Rooms; your research may take you beyond the Folklife Reading Room. Allow enough time on your visit to thoroughly explore the Library's resources.

What can I access onsite?

Collection Materials: We have approximately 2,500 collections consisting of more than 100,000 sound recordings and three million items. A small fraction of these collections are available on the Web. In the Reading Room you can listen to sound recordings, view manuscripts, graphic materials, and moving images, and access other digitized items not available on the Web.

Indexes and Databases: While there is no comprehensive, item-level catalog to our collections, there are a number of indexes available onsite for finding particular song titles, performers, and folklife-related topics in our collections. Many finding aids are online, but some are only available in the Reading Room. Also online is the Traditional Music and Spoken Word Catalog, our catalog to more than 34,000 ethnographic sound recordings, mostly recorded between 1933 and 1950. Several individual collections have databases searchable by titles, performers, and keywords. We also have a collection-level database searchable by keyword.

Books and Periodicals: We have assembled a 4,000-volume collection of general reference books and periodicals covering the broad areas of folklife, folk music, ethnomusicology, oral history, and cultural anthropology.

Ephemera: Includes our vast collection of Subject Files covering a variety of areas of folklife, ethnomusicology, and related subjects. These files contain newspaper and periodical articles, documentation of Archive research, bibliographic and discographic notes, research on fictitious and real individuals, songs, American Indian tribal groups, geographic regions, ethnic groups, folk genres (e.g. storytelling, quilting, urban legends, etc.), organizations, festivals, educational institutions, and music groups.

Can I make copies of collection materials?

Researchers may not make their own copies of audio or video materials onsite. For information about getting copies see: Ordering Copies of Unpublished Recordings and Ordering Copies of Photographic Materials.

In most cases making photocopies of materials is not a problem, but we recommend that you consult with the Reference Staff before doing so. Researchers may use digital cameras for most materials, but scanners are not permitted.

  Back to Top


  home >> collections & research services >> how to do research

A - Z Index
  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
  July 24, 2008
Contact Us:
Ask a Librarian