This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Researchers interested in accessing audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
The Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, holds the intellectual property rights, including copyright, to all materials created by Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt with the exception of the following items: two holiday cards found in box 11, folders 22-23. For these two items, copyright held by Holt/Smithson Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Requests for permission to reproduce should be submitted to ARS.
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Alice L. Walton Foundation.
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 1979 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: Caribbean Carnival
Series 3: Children's Area
Series 4: Folklife in the Museum - Folk Medicine
Series 5: Folklore in Your Community
Series 6: Medicine Show
Series 7: Native American Architecture
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 1979 Festival of American Folklife was produced by the Smithsonian Folklife Program of the Office of American and Folklife Studies and cosponsored by the National Park Service.
For more information, see Smithsonian Folklife Festival records.
The 1979 Folklife Festival continued to take community as its theme, as had been announced in 1978. The Festival celebrated the creative genius of many cultural groups - some had been on American soil only for months, others for millenia. The point of the Smithsonian festivals and the museums' displays of diversity struck home to the people who came to the museums and reached out for reaffirmation of identity. People feared the loss of identity in the sense of anomie that came with being a cipher, a numeral, a set of digits, organizers believed; they feared big government, big business, megastates that might rule the world. Coupled with the fear of homogenization was the fear of the loss of one's own soul. One way to strengthen our sense of identity and to demonstrate our essential humanity, the Festival asserted, was the reaffirmation of the differences among us, the persistence of our traditions at the ground roots of life, a countercurrent for survival.
In 1979 the Festival welcomed the newly-arrived ethnic community of Vietnamese, who had brought with them rich folklife traditions. From the West Indies came immigrants who enliven our cities with the folk theatrical spectacle of Carnival. Native Americans from several tribal groups shared their knowledge of ways in which their housing has been adapted to local environmental conditions.The International Year of the Child was celebrated at the Festival in the program book cover and articles, and in the living presentations of children's folklife in the Children's Area, where Lumbee Indian children re-created a Field Day celebration, and several other children's communities enacted Halloween traditions. Occupational communities were represented by D.C. firefighters, taxicab drivers, and stonecarvers from the National Cathedral. Other communities represented, which had formed around particular interests or institutions, were a medicine show, mom-and-pop neighborhood stores, street criers, and CB radio clubs.
As with the two preceding years, the 1979 Festival (October 3-8) 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). Indoor activities including a symposium focused on folk medicine took place in the National Museum of History and Technology, in the days preceding the outdoor Festival (September 27-30). The 1979 Program Book provided information on each of the programs.
The 1979 Festival was again co-presented by the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Music Performance Trust Funds. It was organized by the Folklife Program within the Office of American and Folklife Studies.
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, E. Richard Sorenson, Thomas Vennum
Folklife Program, Office of American and Folklife Studies
Ralph Rinzler, Director; Richard Derbyshire, Archivist; Susan Kalcik, Folklorist; Jeffrey LaRiche, Program Coordinator; Jack Santino, Folklorist; Peter Seitel, Senior Folklorist; Thomas Vennum, Jr., Ethnomusicologist; Steve Zeitlin, Folklorist
National Park Service
William J. Whelan, Director; Manus J. Fish, Jr., Regional Director, National Capital Region
Fieldworkers and presenters:
Nicholas Bocher, Sylvia Grider, Glenn Hinson, Marjorie Hunt, Fred Lieberman, Susan Manos, Phyllis May, Robert McCarl, Maxine Miska, Peter Nabokov, Elliott Parris, Kate Rinzler, Betsy Seamans, Barbara Strickland, Katherine Williams, Peggy Yocum
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://doi.org/10.25573/data.21771155.
Forms Part Of:
Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: 1979 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.