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 1980 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 7 series.
Series 1: Program Books, Festival Publications, and Ephemera
Series 2: American Talkers
Series 3: Caribbean Americans
Series 4: Community Activities and Food Preservation
Series 5: Finnish Americans
Series 6: Folk Housing and Energy Efficiency
Series 7: Southeast Asian Americans
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 1980 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.
The 1980 Festival was the third to use "community" as its over-arching theme, and the last to be held in October. As with recent Festivals, it was held on a site on the National Mall later to be occupied by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, between 14th and 15th Streets and between Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive (see site plan). It was also the first to be organized by the newly-established Office of Folklife Programs (1980-1992), successor to the former Folklife Program of the Office of American and Folklife Studies (1977-1980). The indoor programming in several museums that had characterized the 1977-1979 Festivals was discontinued and all activities were held outdoors.
When families and community groups gather to celebrate or to mourn, Festival Director Ralph Rinzler observed in the program book, they depend on traditional flavors, sounds, dances, and prayers to reinforce their sense of belonging, their group strength and cultural identity. At the annual Folklife Festival, the Smithsonian acknowledged the power of these traditions, which recall the value that Americans continue to place on being members of groups - familial, occupational, ethnic, regional, and religious. Festival organizers considered this recognition a step in the process of cultural conservation, in the belief that cultural variety, on a national and on a global scale, makes life itself more rewarding. Community and identity thus served as the twin poles around which Festival programs were organized.
The 1980 Festival (October 8-13) included a Caribbean Carnival with steel band and calypso competitions; Finnish Americans from northern Minnesota demonstrating a traditional "whip-sled" for children and such crafts as making Christmas tree ornaments from wood shavings; Southern carpenters building a traditional "dog trot" house; Southeast Asians demonstrating weaving, embroidery, stone carving, calligraphy; among others. The Festival asserted that rootedness is a tangible part of the fascination with history, our own or our country's or that of some distant place. This was seen as a part of life that everyone should value, and so the Festival not only celebrated customs and ways of doing things, but evoked the pride of being someone from somewhere. The 1980 Program Book provided information on each of the programs.
The 1980 Festival was again co-presented by the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Music Performance Trust Funds. It was organized by the Office of Folklife Programs.
Folklife Advisory Council
Wilcomb E. Washburn, Chairman, Roger Abrahams, Richard Ahlborn, Richard Dorson, William Fitzhugh, Lloyd Herman, Robert Laughlin, Scott Odell, Ralph Rinzler, Peter Seitel, Richard Sorenson, Thomas Vennum
Office of Folklife Programs
Ralph Rinzler, Director; Richard Derbyshire, Archivist; Susan Kalcik, Folklorist; Jeffrey LaRiche, Program Coordinator; Jack Santino, Folklorist; Peter Seitel, Senior Folklorist; Thomas Vennum, Ethnomusicologist; Steve Zeitlin, Folklorist
National Park Service
Russell E. Dickenson, Director; Manus J. Fish, Jr., Regional Director, National Capital Region
Fieldworkers and presenters:
Steve Addiss, John W. Berquist, Charley Camp, Amy Catlin, Dennis Coelho, Héctor Corporán, Amanda Dargan, Richard Flint, Marjorie Hunt, Geraldine Johnson, Fred Lieberman, Howard Marshall, Von Martin, Maxine Miska, Bill Moore, Elliott Parris, Leslie Prosterman, Arthur Rosenbaum, Jack Santino, Marta Schley, Katherine Williams, Margaret Yocom, Steven Zeitlin
Shared Stewardship of Collections:
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage acknowledges and respects the right of artists, performers, Folklife Festival participants, community-based scholars, and knowledge-keepers to collaboratively steward representations of themselves and their intangible cultural heritage in media produced, curated, and distributed by the Center. Making this collection accessible to the public is an ongoing process grounded in the Center's commitment to connecting living people and cultures to the materials this collection represents. To view the Center's full shared stewardship policy, which defines our protocols for addressing collections-related inquiries and concerns, please visit https://folklife.si.edu/archives#shared-stewardship.
Forms Part Of:
Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: 1980 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 to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections is by appointment only. Visit our website for more information on scheduling a visit or making a digitization request. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies.