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Resources for Family Folklife and History

The following list includes both online resources with navigational links followed by a few print-only sources. Unless otherwise noted, the Web sites listed in this directory are provided by organizations other than the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. disclaimer

Some of the articles listed here are available only in PDF format. PDF documents require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Folklife | Manuals | Directories |Genealogy |Projects | Reunions |Collection Care | Print Publications


Folklife and Ethnographic Research


Manuals, Guides, and Educational Resources

Directories of Folklife, Oral History, and Cultural Documentation Organizations

Genealogy and Family History

Ongoing National Documentary Projects

Following is a list of ongoing projects that are engaged in collecting folklore and oral history to provide examples for researchers. Most of these sites also provide educational materials for teachers. Some projects may accept participation by people who wish to be interviewed or by interviewers who are able to provide interviews that meet their requirements.

  • The American Century Project. St. Andrew's Episcopal School, Austin, TX (a student oral history project. For educational resources, see "Handouts for Students" and "Oral History in the Classroom For Educators.")
  • Heritage Schools Projects. See the Educator's Resources section of the Ethnographic Resources Related to Folklore, Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, and the Humanities. American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • The National Visionary Leadership Project. Thhis African American oral history project has created the Legacy Guide to assist collectors of African American oral history. In addition, the NVLP has created the National Registry of African American Oral Histories. to provide a national database of these collections. A list of repositories that will accept collections from this project is also available on the web site.
  • StoryCorps. A national non-profit project of Sound Portraits Productions undertaken in partnership with the Library of Congress. The web site provides information on the project and guidelines for participants. This organization and its web site are not part of the Library of Congress. The collections, however, are donated to the Library and are available in the American Folklife Center Reading Room.
  • Veterans History Project. American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Provides a fieldwork kit for the documentation of military and non-military participants in conflicts from World War I to the present. The video and audio recordings of these interviews will be housed at the American Folklife Cente and available to the public.

Family Reunions

  • Family Reunion List. A list of online resources by Benjamin J. Ford, II. (This link is outside the Library of Congress site. It is a non-commercial site, providing links to both commercial and non-commercial resources. Included is a directory of family reunions in the U.S., organized by surname.)

Organizing and Caring for Information Collected in Your Family History Project

Archival Guides

  • Caring for your Collections. Preservation Directorate, Library of Congress. Includes information on how to preserve recordings, photographs, films, videos, books, documents, and artifacts.
  • Ethnographic Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture: A Contributor's Guide. A booklet by Stephanie A. Hall, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Includes advice that will help collectors organize, house, and mark collections to be kept at home and prepare materials for donation to an archive.
  • Folklife and Fieldwork. Booklet by Peter Bartis, American Folklife Center (online and in print. Spanish-language version available in PDF online or in print).

Preservation of Family Treasures


Paper Documents

Albums, Bibles, Books, Diaries and Scrapbooks

Photographs including Negatives, Prints, Slides, and Transparencies

Recorded Sound, Film, Video, and Magnetic Computer Storage Media

Art and Artifacts

  • Museum Conservation Institute: Taking Care Section. Smithsonian Institution. Includes information on appraisals, dating of artifacts, and caring for antique communication devices, furniture and wooden objects, ivory objects, antique armaments, dolls and toys, musical boxes, musical instruments, old houses, paintings, and antique textiles.

Emergency Procedures

Print Publications on Family Foklife and Oral History

  • Cutting-Baker, Holly, and Amy Kotkin. Family Folklore. Washington, DC: Family Folklife Program, Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, 1976.
  • Linda Barnickel. Oral History for the Family Historian., Booklet from the Oral History Association, Carlisle, PA, 2006. Print publication $15.00)
  • Zeitlin, Steve, Amy Kotkin, and Holly Cutting-Baker. A Celebration of American Family Folklore: Tales and Traditions From the Smithsonian Collection. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982.
  • Bogart, Barbara Allen and William Lynwood Montell. From Memory to History: Using Oral Sources for Historical Research. Nashville, TN: American Association for State and Local History, 1981.


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  January 26, 2009
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