The American Folklife Center has awarded its 2022 Archie Green Fellowships to five projects aimed at documenting and analyzing the culture and traditions of American workers.
- Folklorist Taylor Dooley Burden of Rockport, Indiana, received an Archie Green Fellowship to document “The Occupational Lives of Religious Workers in Kentuckiana.” Burden notes that “For most who participate in a religious tradition, their faith is personal and often private. For religious leaders, however, their faith is also their occupation.” She plans to interview religious leaders in Indiana and Kentucky and record “the vibrant and diverse occupational folklife of those serving God and their communities as their life’s vocation.” There has been little previous ethnographic research that looks at clergy from an occupational perspective. Burden’s plan to reach out to a wide range of clergy working in Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religious institutions in the upland south will begin to fill this gap and generate an innovative and informative collection of oral histories.
- Durham, North Carolina-based labor historian Leigh Campoamor will focus on “Poultry Workers of North Carolina.” “Chicken is the main agricultural product of North Carolina,” and the U.S. poultry industry, concentrated in the South, has undergone major changes over the last decades, towards corporate consolidation, contract farming, and a system of factory employment that relies largely on staffing agencies. Through interviews with North Carolina poultry workers–including farmers, factory workers, and others who occupy discrete positions on the production chain–this project will document the essential workers who uphold this key national industry. These interviews will provide insight into the everyday work lives of the people whose work keeps America fed.
- Washington, D.C. folklorist James Deutsch will focus on “Resignation, Rethinking, and Recruitment: The Occupational Culture of Executive Search Consultants.” He will conduct in-depth interviews with executive search consultants reflecting the diversity of this white collar occupational group and the types of executive searches they conduct, types of companies they work for, and types of clients they serve. Interviewees will reflect the increasing racial, ethnic, gender and geographic diversity of their field. The project director, who is an experienced folklorist and researcher, seeks to explore and document this influential group’s shared sets of skills, traditions, specialized knowledge, and codes of behavior—while also seeking to record their expert commentary on the recent phenomenon known as the Great Resignation.
- Marion Jacobson of West Orange, New Jersey received an Archie Green Fellowship for the project “Bread, Rum and Sugar: Caribbean Bakeries in New York and New Jersey.” Inspired by the rich baking traditions and retail legacies of New York and New Jersey’s Caribbean communities, folklorist Marion Jacobson and food scholar Makalé Faber Cullen will conduct an ethnography and oral history project documenting the occupational folklore and culinary traditions of bakery owners, bakers, and bakery workers in the metropolitan New York region. Follow-up community-based spin-off projects and a photo exhibit at the Newark Public Library, in partnership with the Folklife Center of Northern New Jersey, are also planned.
- A “National Survey of K-12 Teachers,” led by folklorist Thomas Grant Richardson of Santa Fe, New Mexico, received an Archie Green Fellowship to conduct 56 in-depth interviews with teachers across the U.S., (i.e., one teacher from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia). The project’s online interviews will document the occupational experiences of the master teachers who are recipients of the prestigious Teacher of the Year Award presented by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Teachers are believed to be the largest occupational group in the U.S. and this project contributes a valuable national perspective to the Occupational Folklife Project collection and the AFC archive. Richardson has assembled and will coordinate an excellent team of folklorists to conduct the interviews and is collaborating with Local Learning, the nationally respected folk arts and education non-profit.
This fellowship program was established to honor the memory of Archie Green (1917-2009), a pioneering folklorist who championed the establishment of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. As a scholar, he documented and analyzed the culture and traditions of American workers and encouraged others to do the same. The Archie Green Fellowships are intended to support new research in this area, and to generate significant digital archival collections of interviews with contemporary American workers (audio recordings, photographs, videos, and fieldnotes), which will be preserved in the American Folklife Center archive and made available to researchers and the public.
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