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Research Archives Events News

Folklore and Ethnography Archives

3619 Locust Walk Room 404

Mission Statement

The Archive collections and library contribute to the research and teaching activities of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Folklore and Ethnography with a mission to:

  1. Collect, preserve, and make accessible primary sources related to folklore and folklife in the mid-Atlantic region for use by educators, researchers, and interested members of the public, including the people from whom the material was collected.
  2. Collect, preserve, and make accessible ethnographic collections developed by current and former faculty, alumni, and students of the University, as well as related collections donated to the archives.
  3. Serve as a resource center for teaching basic archival practices in conjunction with instruction in fieldwork and ethnographic methods; to serve as a repository for materials related to events and activities of the Center for Folklore and Ethnography; and to serve faculty, guest lecturers, and students teaching and studying folklore and ethnography.

The Archive of Folklore and Folklife was established at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s by faculty and students of the Department of Folklore and Folklife. From the beginning it served as a repository for field recordings of folk music and narrative from North America and the Caribbean, reflecting the research interests of faculty and students in the department. Over the years the archive developed as an important repository for student collections and papers. Because a number of these are based on local field research, they uniquely document ephemeral aspects of ethnic community life and history in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, the Delaware Valley, and the mid-Atlantic and Appalachian regions.

For more than thirty years, graduate students under faculty supervision, and with support from the Philadelphia Folklore Society, served as archivists for the collections, overseeing the acquisition, processing, and serving of materials. In the early 1990s, the Department was moved from Logan Hall to 3440 Market Street. In the mid-1990s some of the materials from the archive were deposited in Van Pelt Library's manuscripts and special collections division for safekeeping. Folklore Archive materials deposited there include recordings made by MacEdward Leach and Jacob Elder, and the manuscripts deposited in the Folklore Archive by Ray Birdwhistell. As the archive continues to expand through materials deposited by students, faculty, and colleagues, and through the research program of the Center for Folklore and Ethnography, the shortage of space for housing and serving our holdings has become more acute. Consequently, the Center for Folklore and Ethnography, in partnership with the American Folklore Society, is developing a plan for Migrating the Folklore Archive to Digital Format.

Migrating the Archive to Digital Format

Holdings and Collections

Online Database of Archive Holdings (In Progress)

Hours and Rules for Use

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