Library of Congress Offers Grants to Support Contemporary Cultural Field Research within Diverse Communities

News from the Field
Flyer that featured an African American man in side profile looking through a camera with the words "Community Collections Grants" in large text.

Of the People Initiative Offers 12-Month Grants to Support Individuals and Organizations, Funded by Mellon Foundation


The Library of Congress is offering a new series of grants to individuals and organizations working to document cultures and traditions of Black, Indigenous, and communities of color traditionally underrepresented in the United States. The Community Collections grants from the Library’s American Folklife Center will enable many to document their cultural life and experiences from their own perspectives, while enriching the Library’s holdings with diverse materials featuring creativity and knowledge found at the local level. The funding opportunities were announced today and are open for applications through Sept. 7.

In total, up to 10 grant opportunities are available in fall 2021 for up to $60,000 each to fund field research within Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The funding is part of the Library’s new initiative, Of the People: Widening the Path, to connect more deeply with diverse, often underrepresented communities. This will be the first set of Community Collections grants totaling $1.74 million over four years from the American Folklife Center. The initiative is supported by a $15 million investment from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Of the People creates new opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library and add perspectives to the collections, allowing the national library to share a more inclusive American story.

For more information on the Notice of Funding Opportunity and details on how to apply, visit the Of the People blog at The grants represent a major priority in the new initiative, Of the People.

Several public webinars will be held to provide detailed information about the Community Collections grant program and the application process.

Community Collections Grants from the American Folklife Center

The American Folklife Center was established to preserve and present American folklife through programs of research, documentation and more. Though this grant program, the center will expand its collection by funding and supporting individuals and organizations in collecting and archiving contemporary cultural expressions and traditions that may otherwise be absent from the national record. The Library will offer fellowships to individuals to work within their communities to produce ethnographic cultural documentation, such as oral history interviews and audio-visual recordings of cultural activity, from the community perspective. The center will archive the collections from this fieldwork to preserve and showcase this rich and valuable cultural documentation. Application details are available here.

Examples of cultural documentation meant to inspire possible projects include: Exploration of a community festival or cultural celebration; Documentation of gathering places, including social spaces, farmers markets, craft fairs, or other periodic spaces that serve as anchors or markers of community; Community-centric reflection on emerging cultural forms or practices; Examinations of cultural practices that can serve as markers of aspects of identity; and an oral history of a neighborhood or community.

 American Folklife Center folklorists and archivists will assist grantees in providing support for specific aspects of cultural documentation activities, provide technical advice, and help to facilitate a cohort for sharing knowledge and lessons learned. 

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 traditionally underrepresented in the Library’s collections. Funded through a gift 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
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.  Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at and register creative works of authorship at

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