The Smithsonian Institution Festival of American Folklife, held annually since 1967 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was renamed the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 1998. The materials collected here document the planning, production, and execution of the annual Festival, produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (1999-present) and its predecessor offices (1967-1999). An overview of the entire Festival records group is available here: Smithsonian Folklife Festival records.
Scope and Contents note:
This collection documents the planning, production, and execution of the 1985 Festival of American Folklife. Materials may include photographs, audio recordings, motion picture film and video recordings, notes, production drawings, contracts, memoranda, correspondence, informational materials, publications, and ephemera. Such materials were created during the Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as well as in the featured communities, before or after the Festival itself.
Arranged in 5 series.
Series 1: Program Books, Festival Publications, and Ephemera
Series 2: Cultural Conservation
Series 3: Louisiana
Series 4: Mela! An Indian Fair
Series 5: Special Events
The Festival of American Folklife, held annually since 1967 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was renamed the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 1998.
The 1985 Festival of American Folklife was produced by the Smithsonian Office of Folklife Programs and cosponsored by the National Park Service.
For more information, see Smithsonian Folklife Festival records.
From the first Festival of American Folklife in 1967 through the 1984 Festival, more than 10,000 participants traveled to Washington to share their wisdom and talent with visitors, Festival Director Diana Parker recalled in the 1985 Program Book. In explaining and demonstrating their skills as singers, dancers, musicians, cooks, artisans, storytellers, and workers, they represented legions more in their home communities. Because of the time and knowledge they shared, lives had been enriched, while the cultural understanding of the aesthetic variety in this and other nations had broadened. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian's archive of folklife research and programming experience had grown incrementally each year. There remained much still to be learned, and each participant's story added to our understanding of the mosaic of folk culture.
Festival participants often spoke of their struggle to maintain traditions in the face of overwhelming odds. Each year brought another person to inform visitors, "I am the last who knows how to do this the old way." For this reason the Folklife Programs viewed conservation of culture as an issue equal in urgency to the conservation of natural resources, for the pluralism reflected at each year's Festival would be terrible to lose. The Smithsonian was not, of course, the only organization concerned with cultural conservation. The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress consistently contributed on a national scale to research and preservation of traditional culture. Numerous state and local programs were also hard at work in similar efforts and have made notable contributions. As the National Endowment for the Arts celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1985, the Smithsonian was especially aware of the immense contributions of its Folk Arts Program.
The 1985 Festival took place for two five-day weeks (June 26-30 and July 3-7) between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive and between 10th Street and 14th Street, south of the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History (see site plan).
For the 1985 Festival, more than two hundred participants came to Washington to share in a great celebration of cultural diversity. Three thematic programs were presented, complemented by a number of special events. The 1985 Program Book provides information on each of the programs.
The 1985 Festival was co-presented by the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service and organized by the Office of Folklife Programs. In addition to specific support (acknowledged below) for the Louisiana and Mela! programs, the recording industry provided support in part for the instrumental music in performances at the Festival through the Music Performance Trust Funds (Martin A. Paulson, Trustee).
Office of Folklife Programs
Peter Seitel, Director; Diana Parker, Festival Director; Thomas Vennum, Jr., Senior Ethnomusicologist; Marjorie Hunt, Folklorist; Alicia María González, Folklorist and Program Developer; Kazadi wa Mukuna, Ethnomusicologist; Richard Derbyshire, Archivist; Laurie Kalb, Foodways Coordinator
National Park Service
William Penn Mott, Jr., Director; Manus J. Fish, Jr., Regional Director, National Capital Region
Forms Part Of:
Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: 1985 Festival of American Folklife forms part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival records .
Smithsonian Folklife Festival records
Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: Papers
1967 Festival of American Folklife records - [Ongoing]
Related Archival Materials note:
Within the Rinzler Archives, related materials may be found in various collections such as the Ralph Rinzler papers and recordings, the Lily Spandorf drawings, the Diana Davies photographs, the Robert Yellin photographs, and the Curatorial Research, Programs, and Projects collection. Additional relevant materials may also be found in the Smithsonian Institution Archives concerning the Division of Performing Arts (1966-1983), Folklife Program (1977-1980), Office of Folklife Programs (1980-1991), Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies (1991-1999), Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (1999-present), and collaborating Smithsonian units, as well as in the administrative papers of key figures such as the Secretary and respective deputies. Users are encouraged to consult relevant finding aids and to contact Archives staff for further information.
Access by appointment only. Where a listening copy or viewing copy has been created, this is indicated in the respective inventory; additional materials may be accessible with sufficient advance notice and, in some cases, payment of a processing fee. Older papers are housed at a remote location and may require a minimum of three weeks' advance notice and payment of a retrieval fee. Certain formats such as multi-track audio recordings and EIAJ-1 videoreels (1/2 inch) may not be accessible. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at 202-633-7322 or email@example.com for additional information.
Copyright and other restrictions may apply. Generally, materials created during a Festival are covered by a release signed by each participant permitting their use for personal and educational purposes; materials created as part of the fieldwork leading to a Festival may be more restricted. We permit and encourage such personal and educational use of those materials provided digitally here, without special permissions. Use of any materials for publication, commercial use, or distribution requires a license from the Archives. Licensing fees may apply in addition to any processing fees.