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 1967 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: Fieldwork
Series 3: Photographs
Series 4: Audio
Series 5: Video
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 1967 Festival of American Folklife was produced by the Smithsonian Division of Performing Arts.
For more information, see Smithsonian Folklife Festival records.
In 1966, Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley engaged James R. Morris to serve as Director of Museum Services, soon to become a new Division of Performing Arts. Ripley charged Morris to develop a full program of performances on the National Mall - sound and light show, readings and concerts, films, live demonstrations, and special exhibitions. Morris, who had previously organized the American Folk Festival in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1963, proposed that the Smithsonian host a folk festival as the centerpiece of the outdoors activities. Through the Asheville festival, Morris had come into contact with key people involved in the Newport Folk Festival, among them Alan Lomax. It was Lomax who suggested that the Smithsonian hire Newport's then-director of field programs, Ralph C. Rinzler, to help plan a Smithsonian festival. The term "folklife", drawn from Scandinavian usage, was chosen over "folk" as the name of the new Festival.
The first Festival of American Folklife was held July 1-4, 1967 in two tents - one for crafts and one for sales - a music stage, and a performance area on the terrace of the Museum of History and Technology (later, the National Museum of American History). Fifty-eight traditional craftspeople and thirty-two musical and dance groups from throughout the United States demonstrated and performed at the first open-air event. Mountain banjo-pickers and ballad singers, Chinese lion dancers, Indian sand painters, basket and rug weavers, New Orleans jazz bands and a Bohemian hammer dulcimer band from east Texas combined with the host of participants from many rural and urban areas of the U.S. The entire event was free to the public, the expense of the production having been borne by the Smithsonian aided by numerous civic and cultural organizations, business enterprises and State Arts Councils.
The 1967 Festival drew a huge crowd - estimated at more than 400,000 - and strong interest from the press, Members of Congress, and Smithsonian leadership. In the Smithsonian's annual report for 1967, Ripley reflected on the success of the Festival:
Within - in the Museum - the tools, the products of craft work, the musical instruments hang suspended in cases, caught in beautifully petrified isolation. Without, for the space of a few hours they came alive in the hands of specialists from all over America.... It was a moving spectacle and one that underscored the principle that a museum, to be a museum in the best sense of the word, must live and breathe both within and without.
The 1967 Festival marked the inception of a fresh attempt at the evaluation, documentation and celebration of a hitherto unrecognized area of vigorous American expression. Concurrent with the first Festival, an American Folklife Conference was organized (with assistance from Henry Glassie) to address topics of American and international folklife studies, the relationship between folklife and history, applied folklife, and folklife in schools, museums, communities, and government agencies.
The Festival was organized by the Division of Performing Arts, under the direction of James R. Morris. Ralph Rinzler was the Applied Folklore Consultant and Festival Artistic Director, and Marian A. Hope was Project Assistant. No program book or schedule was published, but news articles, congressional remarks, letters from the public, and a list of participants were later compiled in lieu of a program book. That document can be viewed in Series 1.
Harry Belone, 1912-1986, Navajo sand painter, Arizona
Herman Benton, 1914-1994, scoop maker, New York
Mary Bowers, 1922-2002, Seminole patchwork, needlework, Florida
Marie Z. Chino, 1907-1982, Acoma pottery, New Mexico
Mildred Cleghorn, 1910-1997, Indian cloth dolls, Oklahoma
Maisy Coburn, apple face and corncob dolls, Arkansas
Margaret Coochwytewa, 1923-1995, Hopi, coil and yucca leaves basket maker, Arizona
Victor Coochwytewa, 1922-2011, Hopi silversmith, Arizona
Freedom Quilting Bee, Alabama
Taft Greer, 1908-1986, weaver, Tennessee
Joseph Grismayer, 1888-1970, willow basket maker, Pennsylvania
Dewey Harmon, 1900-1972, whittler, North Carolina
Bea Hensley, 1919-2013, blacksmith, North Carolina
Louise Jones, 1910-1973, coil basket making, South Carolina
Robert Keith, chair maker, North Carolina
Mrs. Robert Keith, chair maker, North Carolina
Norman Kennedy, 1934-, carder, spinner, weaver, Massachusetts
Clifford Lucas, Indian dolls, New Mexico
Lila Suzanne Marshall, 1908-1994, corn shuck dolls, North Carolina
Charles Mayac, 1906-1971, ivory carver, Alaska
Leo J. Meyer, scrimshaw carver, Maryland
Alice Merryman, 1906-2007, corn shuck dolls, Arkansas
Norman Miller, 1905-1972, southern pottery, Alabama
Mrs. Norman Miller, southern pottery, Alabama
Hazel Miracle, 1915-2001, apple face, corn shuck dolls, Kentucky
Homer Miracle, 1910-1980, hand-hewn bowls, carver, Kentucky
Ann Mitchell, corn shuck dolls, Maryland
Golda Porter, spinner, North Carolina
Edd Presnell, 1916-1994, dulcimer maker, North Carolina
Wade Ward (1892-1971) and the Buck Mountain Band, mountain string band, Virginia
Yomo Toro Band, Puerto Rican music, New York
Ed Young (1910-1972), G.D. Young and Lonnie Young (1903-1976), African American fife and drum group, Mississippi
Young People's Chorus from the Scripture of Church of Christ, gospel, Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers, cloggers, North Carolina
Chinese Lion Group, Washington, D.C.
Maurice Flowers, square dance caller, Maryland
Los Gallegos d'Espana, Galician dance, New York
Glinka Dancers, Russian dance group, New Jersey
Jochim Koyuk, King Island Eskimo dancer, Alaska
Mrs. Jochim Koyuk, King Island Eskimo dancer, Alaska
McNeff Dancers, Irish dancing with Ceilidh band, New York
Henry Paterick, square dance caller, Virginia
St. Andrews Society Group, Scottish dancing, Washington, D.C.
Forms Part Of:
Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: 1967 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.