Library of Congress Awards more than $500,000 to Support Contemporary Cultural Field Research within Diverse Communities
The Library of Congress American Folklife Center is pleased to announce the inaugural recipient cohort of the Community Collections Grant program. This series of grants, part of the Of the People: Widening the Path initiative, is awarded to individuals and organizations working to document cultures and traditions of Black, Indigenous and communities of color historically underrepresented in the United States and in the Library’s collections.
“The American Folklife Center is honored to support and preserve the important work of this first group of Community Collections Grant recipients, who will be documenting and sharing the cultural traditions and stories of their communities with the Library of Congress and the American public,” said John Fenn, research head of the American Folklife Center.
More than 180 applications from across the United States, including territories and protectorates, were submitted for review by the center’s selection panel. Of the extremely diverse applicants and projects, a mix of 10 individuals and organizations will receive up to $60,000 each to fund field research within Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
The recipients will work over the next 12 months to complete a range of engaging and meaningful research. This work will ultimately be included in the Library’s various permanent collections.
2022 INDIVIDUAL RECIPIENTS
PROJECT: Community on the Line: The Culture of R&B Urban Line Dancing in the Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware Tri-state Area
LOCATION: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware
DESCRIPTION: An interdisciplinary project and planning team comprised of members of the Soul Line dance community will conduct a broad examination of the R&B Urban Line dance culture and community in the greater Philadelphia region. Through interviews with dancers, choreographers and participants and documentation of dance gathering places and events, this project explores the R&B or Soul Line — a body of African American expressive creative culture that includes dance, music, language, dress, social gatherings and celebrations.
PROJECT: Sofrito Conversations: Bridging the North and West of Chicago
LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois
DESCRIPTION: Cultural food practices provide an opportunity to create bonds between Black Latino neighbors in northwest Chicago communities, including Austin, Belmont Cragin, Hermosa, Humboldt Park, Montclare and West Garfield Park neighborhoods. Afro-Boricua artist, curator and longtime Chicago resident Jorge Félix will undertake a documentation project exploring foodways practices, traditions and events. The project will unfold through a series of cross-generational public conversations, interviews and documentation that captures the recipes and stories told by friends and families in northwest side home kitchens, barbecues in community parks, church potlucks, food offerings to Afro-Caribbean religious icons, and with street food vendors, restauranteurs and others.
PROJECT: And We Are Still Here: Indigenous Culture Bearers of Houma Communities
LOCATION: Louisiana - southern coastal parishes
DESCRIPTION: A United Houma Nation scholar and cultural leader will lead a team of tribal documentarians, artists and elders in a documentation project that highlights significant components of Houma cultural identity. The team will document the work of 16 Houma culture bearers through interviews, photos, videos and audio recordings, following the transmission of their work from the harvesting and processing materials, creating art works from those materials, and the pricing, displaying and sales of artwork, culminating with the launch of the United Houma Nation Traditional Tribal Artists Festival.
PROJECT: Unearthing the Lost Songs of Kohala
LOCATION: Kohala, Hawai’i (Big Island)
DESCRIPTION: This project will document unrecorded or “heirloom songs” of the Kohala region of the Big island of Hawai’i. Local musicians will work with members of the community who have been in Kohala for several generations to document a shared cultural legacy of original compositions held within families that chronicle ways of life that inform the care for land and communities. These songs are part of a shared cultural legacy, and preserving them for future generations while sharing them to the larger community holds great value.
PROJECT: Documenting the Stories, Agricultural Traditions, and Culture of Specialty Coffee Farmers in Puerto Rico
LOCATION: Puerto Rico
DESCRIPTION: Coffee has long been one of Puerto Rico’s primary crops, which forms a central part of the collective culture and identity. This project will document the community of emerging specialty coffee farmers, their combination of traditional and next-generation sustainable farming practices, and preparation of coffee from seed to cup. Documentation will focus on farms in Yauco, Puerto Rico, and neighboring farms located in Adjuntas, San Sebastián, Lares and Las Marías.
PROJECT: Sonidos de Houston: Documenting the City’s Chicano Music Scene
LOCATION: Houston, Texas
DESCRIPTION: A team of musicians and community scholars from the Chicano music community will document the contemporary scene in Houston. This scene is influenced by a mix of gulf coast African American and Cajun-inflected blues and R&B musical traditions as well as the country, Orquesta and Conjunto music often associated with more prominent Chicano music scenes in South and Central Texas. The team will conduct interviews with musicians, dance hall owners, producers, fans and others, culminating with a street party community documentation/archives event featuring group discussions, story booths, photo sharing and duplication opportunities and music performance. The University of Houston will serve as local repository for the Houston Chicano music collection.
PROJECT: Louisiana Lao New Year Archive (LLNY)
LOCATION: Broussard (Iberia Parish), Louisiana
DESCRIPTION: The project will document, archive and digitally exhibit the many cultural facets and multi-generational perspectives of the Lao immigrant community and their New Year Festival Festival at Wat Thammarattanaram, a Buddhist temple and monastery in Broussard (Iberia Parish), Louisiana. This temple serves as a religious and cultural center for Lao people in the area, hosting multiple cultural events throughout the year, with the largest one being the LLNY celebrated annually on Easter weekend. Xamane, an interdisciplinary designer, and longtime participant and organizer of the festival has lived among the Southern Louisiana (Acadiana) Lao Immigrant community for over 30 years. https://www.facebook.com/LouisianaLaoNewYear
2022 ORGANIZATION RECIPIENTS
Habele Outer Island Education Fund
PROJECT: Warp and Weft of the Remathau
LOCATION: Federated States of Micronesia (Outer Islands of Yap State)
DESCRIPTION: The project is guided by longstanding partnerships between Habele (an educational/cultural development nonprofit) and Remathau women from the Outer Islands of Yap State, home to the Remathau or “People of the Sea.” Most recently, these women collaborated in the creation of Weaving Connections, an online platform to support Remathau in the mainland United States in building educational materials needed to sustain their unique weaving traditions. Documentation will consist of interviews with master weavers currently living in the Outer Islands or the mainland United States, as well as photography documenting textile products and weaving process.
PROJECT: Follow the Music: Exploring Multi-Linear Legacies of House Culture
LOCATION: New York, Illinois, Michigan, California, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
DESCRIPTION: Through interviews and community-led documentation of House music cultural practices, the project will explore the contemporary manifestations in various cities, of House music and dance culture communities and cultural scenes. Having originated in Black and brown gay clubs from the 1970s through 1990s these scenes gave rise to a dynamic tradition and network of communities spread across the United States and beyond.
Wichita State University
PROJECT: Fiestas: Latinx Celebrations in Western Kansas
LOCATION: Wichita, Kansas, and Western Kansas
DESCRIPTION: This project will document the Hispanic cultural heritage of Western Kansas focusing on the large yet under-recognized Latino communities in Dodge City, Liberal and Garden City (which are predominantly Mexican American, hailing from the northern mountain states of Mexico). A team, led by faculty from the university’s Spanish, History and Anthropology departments as well as a local photojournalist, will document social and familial events (such as quinceañeras) as well as foodways and religious celebrations (such as la Fiesta de la Candelaria.) The project also seeks to honor the struggle of Hispanic immigrants in Western Kansas and their contribution to the local culture. Wichita State University is an urban public institution with a growth of Latino students and will become a Hispanic Serving Institution in the next 10 years.
Additional grant opportunities will be available across the Library in 2022 and future years. The next grant application period will open early summer 2022. To receive timely notifications, please subscribe to the Of the People blog at https://blogs.loc.gov/ofthepeople/.
About Of the People: Widening the Path
Launched in January 2021, Of the People: Widening the Path is a multiyear initiative to connect the Library more deeply with Black, Indigenous and communities of color historically underrepresented in the United States and in the Library’s collections. Funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, it provides new opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library and add their perspectives to the Library’s collections.This work will expand the Library’s efforts to ensure that a diversity of experiences is reflected in our historical record and inform how we use those materials to understand our past.
About the Library
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