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 1988 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 6 series.
Series 1: Program Books, Festival Publications, and Ephemera
Series 2: American Folklore Society Centennial
Series 3: Festival Music Stage
Series 4: Ingenuity and Tradition: The Common Wealth of Massachusetts
Series 5: Migration to Metropolitan Washington: Making a New Place Home
Series 6: Music from the Peoples of the Soviet Union
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 1988 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 1988 Festival celebrated the centennial of the American Folklore Society, founded one hundred years earlier because of the need to document and study cultures that were seen as disappearing. Much of the Society's attention today, however, is engaged in the documentation and interpretation of emerging traditions and cultural expressions. Folklorists work in inner cities, conduct research on occupational groups, analyze processes of traditionalization and cooperate with other professionals in devising natural conservation and historical preservation strategies, which also promote cultural continuity, equity and integrity. Visitors to the 1988 Festival could learn about what it is that folklorists do and what impacts they have on the communities with which they work.
The other living exhibitions that made up this year's Festival also provided ample illustrations of this same view of the traditional. The Massachusetts program told a paradigmatic American story. Gay Head Wampanoag, Yankee settlers, Afro American migrants, and immigrants from Italy, Greece, Poland, the Cape Verde Islands, Puerto Rico, and Southeast Asia have not only preserved their traditions; through ingenious acts of individual and community creativity they have adapted them and endowed them with new meanings, as circumstances have changed. The Metropolitan Washington program pointed to the heightened consciousness of cultural issues associated with the migration experience. The program asked how immigrants from El Salvador, Ethiopia, China, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as domestic Anglo and Afro American groups historically migrating from nearby states, discard, reinvent, and reconstitute their traditions as they actively make a new place home. A varied contingent of musicians and performers from several republics of the Soviet Union demonstrated how truly ancient traditions nurtured in various pastoral, tribal, and religious environments have not merely survived but actually flourished in contemporary Soviet life. Also at the Festival were American musicians who, as part of a groundbreaking cultural exchange with the Soviet Union, would later travel to Moscow to participate in the International Folklore Festival in August 1988 and be reunited with the Soviet musicians participating in the Smithsonian's Festival.
The 1988 Festival took place for two five-day weeks (June 23-27 and June 30-July 4) 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).
The 1988 Program Book included schedules and participant lists for each program; the Program Book essays provided a larger context for the Festival presentations, extending beyond the traditions actually presented at the 1988 Festival.
The Festival was co-presented by the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service and organized by the Office of Folklife Programs.
Office of Folklife Programs
Richard Kurin, Acting Director; Diana Parker, Festival Director; Anthony Seeger, Curator, Folkways Records; Thomas Vennum, Jr., Senior Ethnomusicologist; Peter Seitel, Senior Folklorist; Marjorie Hunt, Phyllis M. May-Machunda, Heliana Portes de Roux, Frank Proschan, Nicholas R. Spitzer, Folklorists; Jeffrey Place, Assistant Archivist
National Park Service
William Penn Mott, Jr., Director; Manus J. Fish, Jr., Regional Director, National Capital Region
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: 1988 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.