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Folklife and Fieldwork: A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques

The Professional Folklorist & Public Programs

Image: Mary Hufford interviews bluegrass musician Everett Lilly Folklife specialist Mary Hufford interviews bluegrass musician Everett Lilly during a 1996 Fourth of July celebration on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia, for the American Folklife Center's Coal River Folklife Project. Photo by Terry Eiler

Agencies, institutions, and public educational programs that need cultural documentation hire trained professionals. Since the formation of the American Folklore Society in 1888, folklorists have represented the scholarly discipline which studies traditional culture whether regional, occupational, or ethnic in nature. Folklorists also recognize and use specialists in associated disciplines of study such as ethnomusicology, oral history, sociology, anthropology, historic preservation, and museum studies, among others, and have long coordinated projects that involve the general public. The end result of many public projects that folklorists have directed have included public exhibitions, festivals, reports and recommendations related to urban planning, development of archives to encourage community scholarship, preparation of school curricula, teacher training programs, and reports on criteria necessary in the long-range development of community educational and recreational programs.

Frequently folklorists are hired in an administrative capacity to design, implement, and manage "folk artists in the schools" programs, oral history projects, museum programs, and broad scale documentation projects. If you are interested in securing the services of a folklorist, you may call the American Folklife Center for referral information regarding your state folklife program as well as other federal and regional institutions which will assist you. The Center also maintains information regarding educational programs in folklore and the locations of folklorists teaching in universities and colleges in all states and regions of the United States and throughout the world.


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  April 27, 2005
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