Folklife Resources

North Carolina Folklife organizations and programs

Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University offers the nation’s only Master of Arts degree in Appalachian Studies. The Center encourages research and collaborative projects concerned with the region’s past, present, and future, such as coordination of the Appalachian Land Ownership Study, preservation microfilming of regional newspaper back issues and historical documents, supervision of multiple oral history projects, production of a syndicated radio program, organization of a regional cultural festival, development of Matewan Development Center, research on ethnic Appalachia, and sustainable development initiatives.

Center for Documentary Studies, an interdisciplinary educational organization affiliated with Duke University, carries out documentary projects at local, state, national, and international levels. Founded in 1989, CDS connects the arts and humanities to fieldwork, drawing upon photography, filmmaking, oral history, folklore, and writing as catalysts for education and change.

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum on Harkers Island is dedicated to documenting, preserving, and presenting the coastal community traditions of the Core Sound area. Through exhibits, demonstrations, festivals, and other public programs, the Museum represents the diverse community of rural fishermen, hunters, carvers, boatbuilders and their families that settled North Carolina’s Outer Banks and soundside villages over the past three hundred years. It helps preserve and perpetuate these important skills, trades and traditions by educating both local residents and visitors to the region.

Curriculum in Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill was established in 1940 and was one of the first graduate programs in folklore in the country. The Curriculum is a master’s level program that has been instrumental in establishing a place for folklore studies in higher education, in training many folklorists now working in the state, and developing the Southern Folklife Collection.

East Carolina University‘s Folklore Archive is a regional folklife collection, holding manuscript collections of field documentation, video and audiotapes, photographs, and other documentary forms. The range of folklife subjects is wide, with depth in folk medicine and material culture as well as verbal lore.

John C. Campbell Folk School offers classes in traditional and contemporary arts, craft, folk music, folk dance, gardening, nature studies, literature, and folklore. The Folk School instituted a Folklore Program in 1988 through which research, fieldwork, and documentation of traditional Appalachian culture is conducted on an ongoing basis. The results of fieldwork are presented in the form of CD releases, radio programs, publications, and public presentations.

Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University studies, documents, and interprets the culture and history of southern Appalachia and provides museum services to the western part of the state. To that end, it collects artifacts, builds exhibitions, documents and presents traditional craft demonstrations and musical performances, produces books and musical recordings, and enriches the curricula of elementary, secondary, and university students.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian was founded in 1948 as part of the Cherokee Historical Association to preserve and perpetuate Cherokee history, culture, and stories through permanent and changing exhibits, workshops, festivals, archives, and special educational programs. The museum is a non-profit organization representing the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a federally recognized tribe, and has become one of the most visited and successful tribal museums in the United States.

North Carolina Folklife Institute is the support organization for the Folklife Program of the North Carolina Arts Council and seeks to encourage the preservation and understanding of folklife in North Carolina. Contact the Folklife Program of the North Carolina Arts Council, (919) 733-7898.

North Carolina Folklore Society is one of the oldest state folklore societies and is committed to promoting the appreciation, study, and preservation of North Carolina’s rich folk cultural heritages. Through its publications, annual meeting, awards, and other programs, the Society encourages the continuation of local folk traditions (both those indigenous to the state and recently arrived through immigration), and their documentation and analysis by both professional and amateur folklorists.

North Carolina Pottery Center opened in 1998 in Seagrove, a rural area of the North Carolina piedmont where pottery making has a 200-year history. The Center’s mission is to promote public awareness and appreciation of the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina through educational programs, public services, collection and preservation, and research and documentation.

Pocosin Arts collects, presents, and preserves Tyrrell County folkways by connecting its traditional arts to its natural environment through the interdisciplinary arts process focused on the rich cultural heritage found in eastern North Carolina.

Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, ranks as one of the nation’s foremost archival resources for the study of American folk music and popular culture. Located in the Manuscripts Department in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library, the SFC holdings extensively document all forms of Southern musical and oral traditions and is especially rich in materials documenting the emergence of old-time, country-western, hillbilly, bluegrass, blues, gospel, Cajun and zydeco musics.

Student Action with Farmworkers, housed at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, bring students and farmworkers together to learn about each other’s lives, share resources and skills, improve conditions for farmworkers, and build diverse coalitions working for social change. SAF sponsors student interns to conduct documentary fieldwork in farmworker communities in North and South Carolina. The publications Recollections of Home / Recuerdos de mi Tierra and Culture Ground / Tierra Aculturada resulted these projects.

Tobacco Farm Life Museum has been preserving the history and cultural heritage of Eastern North Carolina farm life since its opening in 1983. The museum was started by a group of local families who wanted to preserve the personal and special history of the Eastern North Carolina flu-cured tobacco farm family for future generations.


National Folklife organizations and programs

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was created by Congress in 1976 ‘to preserve and present American Folklife.’ The Center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established at the Library in 1928 as a repository for American Folk Music. The Center and its collections have grown to encompass all aspects of folklore and folklife from this country and around the world.

The American Folklore Society is an association of people who create and communicate knowledge about folklore. Its more than 1,200 members are scholars and teachers at colleges and universities, professionals in arts and cultural organizations, and community members involved in folklore work.

Davenport Films‘ The American Traditional Culture Series are documentaries of the American south and other American folklore subjects, produced in collaboration with Daniel Patterson and the Curriculum in Folklore at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklore and Cultural Heritage promotes the understanding and continuity of contemporary grassroots cultures in the United States and abroad. It produces the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, exhibitions, documentary films and videos, symposia, and educational materials. The Center conducts research, maintains archives, and provides educational and research opportunities.

Folkstreams is an interactive website with video streaming. Its purpose is to create a public cultural preserve of important films and videos about American traditional or “roots” culture, to be video streamed on the Internet with supporting materials about their artistic, social, and cultural meaning. “” will make these works easy to find and to explore, giving renewed and greater exposure to work originally funded in large part by the two National Endowments and their state counterparts.


Other State Folklife Resources in the SE Region

The National Storytelling Festival, sponsored by the International Storytelling Center, celebrates the power of storytelling each year in October by showcasing the world’s stories, storytellers, and storytelling traditions.

The Center for Appalachian Study and Services at East Tennessee State University is a hub of scholarly, educational, public service, and artistic projects addressing the needs and interests of the Appalachian region.

The Archives of Appalachia are part of the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services.. The Archives includes three units concerned with the collection, preservation, and public use of historical materials: Appalachian Collections, a multimedia collection of materials that documents the political, economic, social, and cultural history of Southern Appalachia.

The Center for the Study of the American South has as its mission to encourage teaching about, research on, and service to the South at the UNC-Chapel Hill. The Center strives to deepen scholarly understanding of the South and to make the University’s best resources available to states and communities facing challenges within the region.

Georgia Folklife

Tennessee Folklife

Alabama Folklife Program

Virginia Folklife Program

The New York Folklore Society (NYFS) is a statewide nonprofit organization that offers a wide range of programs and services designed to nurture traditional arts and culture in the communities where they originate, foster the sharing of folk traditions across cultural boundaries, and further cultural equity and cross-cultural understanding. The Society is committed to fostering the folklore and folklife of all cultural groups and communities in the State, particularly those whose cultures and histories have been undervalued and underdocumented in the past.

Cultural Arts Resources for Teachers and Students (CARTS) is a project of City Lore, a cultural organization whose mission is to document, preserve and present the living cultural heritage of New York and other cities. is a compilation of the best practices and resources of this successful approach to education. This site is also a hub for information and curricular materials for all of City Lore’s programs. From this site you can link to our City Lore website, and to our Place Matters and Peoples Poetry Gathering websites.

Texas Folklife Resources (TFR) is a private, nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to celebrating and perpetuating the traditional arts and culture of the Lone Star State. It works directly with folk artists and communities to document living traditions and present them to the public through exhibitions, concerts, media projects and educational residencies. By recognizing and promoting the authentic artistic traditions passed down within communities, Texas Folklife Resources helps ensure that they live on.