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 1976 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 9 series.
Series 1: Program Books, Festival Publications, and Ephemera
Series 2: African Diaspora
Series 3: Children's Program
Series 4: Family Folklore
Series 5: Festival Stage
Series 6: Native Americans
Series 7: Old Ways in the New World
Series 8: Regional America
Series 9: Working 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 1976 Festival of American Folklife was produced by the Smithsonian Division of Performing Arts and cosponsored by the National Park Service.
For more information, see Smithsonian Folklife Festival records.
The Festival of American Folklife's first decade culminated with the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife that took place for twelve weeks in the summer of 1976, from June 16 to September 6 (programs typically ran from Wednesday through Sunday each week). More than 5000 participants took part over the course of the summer. The 1976 Festival involved the participation of every region of the United States, 38 foreign governments, scores of American Indian tribes, and many labor organizations. Some 4.5 million people attended the Festival.
The Bicentennial Festival resulted from the collaboration of the Smithsonian with thousands of national and international scholars, community spokespeople, and cultural exemplars involved in the documentation, presentation, transmission, and conservation of cultural traditions. Preceding the Festival were several years of establishing cultural networks, training students, and providing opportunities for diverse peoples to interpret and present their traditions. The Bicentennial also saw the flowering of a touring program, begun in 1973, in which foreign groups at the Festival subsequently toured the United States. Scores of groups from the African Diaspora and Old Ways in the New World programs gave some 200 performances in 50 cities and towns across the U.S.
The 1976 Festival again took place in the western part of the National Mall to the south of the Reflecting Pool, between 17th and 23rd Streets (see site plan). It was co-organized by the Smithsonian Institution, Division of Performing Arts (James R. Morris, Director; Richard Lusher, Deputy Director) and the National Park Service (Gary Everhardt, Director). Ralph Rinzler was Director of the Festival, and Bess Lomax Hawes and Robert Byington were Deputy Directors of the Festival. Tom Vennum served as Ethnomusicologist, and Frank Proschan as Archivist. The Bicentennial Festival was sponsored by American Airlines and General Foods.
The 1976 Festival again featured seven thematic programs, complemented by a Festival Stage. African Diaspora featured different countries every two weeks. The Festival Stage brought together participants from other areas and - for the last four weeks - its own dedicated performers. Native Americans changed focus by region every week; similarly, Old Ways in the New World changed focus by country every week. Regional America (June 16-August 8) changed focus by region every week, and Working Americans changed focus by theme every two weeks, with an expanded program on Transportation the last four weeks (August 11-September 6).
The 1975 Program Book provided information on each of the programs. Biweekly, a Program Supplement provided schedules and participant information.
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: 1976 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.