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Folklore & Folklife News Spring 2007

February 2007

Penn Folklore Alumna Elaine Eff to Receive 2007 Pogue Award for Lifetime Achievement in Oral History

Elaine Eff

The 2007 Forrest C. Pogue award for outstanding and continuing contributions to oral history will be presented to Dr. Elaine Eff of the Maryland Historical Trust at the OHMAR (Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region) spring conference, Saturday, March 3, 2007 at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. The award committee composed of OHMAR past-presidents recognized Eff for her substantial contributions as a folklorist and oral historian, her service as a board member and former president, and her mentoring of many substantial oral history projects through her position at the Trust. The Forrest C. Pogue award, which has been presented annually since 1979, honors the man who pioneered the use of oral history in combat during World War II. Pogue also served as an early president of the Oral History Association.

Elaine Eff received a doctorate in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984, after completing graduate work in museum studies at Cooperstown and coordinating exhibitions at the Winterthur Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. Her graduate work focused on the painted screens of Baltimore and resulted in a documentary film that she produced and directed, numerous exhibitions, and the creation of an organization devoted to preservation of this unique urban folk art. At the Maryland Historical Trust, Eff authored a book, You Should Have Been Here Yesterday: A Guide to Cultural Documentation in Maryland (1995), that has served as a handbook for those who want to learn how to use oral history and other methods to record the history of their communities. She contributed oral histories of a now-vanished generation of lighthouse keepers to Ross Holland’s Maryland Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay. As the contact person for Marylanders seeking grants to support oral history and community history, Eff has guided dozens of projects. She also serves as co-Director of Maryland Traditions, a partnership of the Maryland Historical Trust and the Maryland State Arts Council that discovers and sustains traditional arts and culture.

 Eff has advised, funded, or directed many projects documenting the living culture and history of that region. Among her contributions was developing the Delmarva Folklife Project, a multi-year initiative to preserve the history and folkways of this region. When it came time to create a public product that could incorporate the project’s results, a steering committee on which Eff served crafted the innovative publication, “From Bridge to Boardwalk: An Audio Journey Along Maryland’s Eastern Shore.” The packet includes CDs with interviews, historical recordings and music, along with a 76-page book containing a pull-out map, essays, photographs, and tips to finding local arts and cultural treasures. The recordings allow travelers interested in hearing the authentic voices of the region to listen and learn as they drive the shore’s byways.


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