Our WorkPrizes and Grants

Brenda McCallum Prize

Since 1994, the AFS Archives and Libraries Section has awarded a prize of up to $250 honoring the late folklife archivist Brenda McCallum. Through this prize, the AFS Archives and Libraries Section seeks to promote works of excellence and innovation that further the cause of the preservation, organization, curation, or enhanced public access and use related to folklife archival collections.


The Brenda McCallum Prize is awarded to an individual or institution for producing an exceptional work related to archival collections of folklife materials. Examples of eligible projects include – but are not limited to – digital collections, exhibits, or access tools such as software/apps, online and in-person workshops, lecture series, webinars, or websites that provide enhanced equipment and media specifications for generation and preservation of archival materials; or more traditional presentations of collections, collections work, or their materials through exhibitions, publications, and programming. For further examples, see our list of past winners below. 


Must have a connection with a folklife collection, even if the collection or archival curation is not directly associated with a formal folklore archive. The Archives & Libraries Section notes that any work is eligible which facilitates the organization of ethnographic materials created in the field, since it ultimately assists the cause of folklife archives and archivists.

May involve excellence or outstanding innovation in the creation of a new collection, work with an established collection, or services to professionals who work with collections. Suggested examples include:

  • New Collections: Assembly or creation of a new collection of folklife archival materials and records that make them more accessible and usable to a community beyond the curators or hosting institution.
  • Established Collections: Work to make an existing collection more available to a wider audience (as through digitization of archival materials, development of a collection repository website, or development of an interactive collection guide or particularly well-developed finding aid). Or an exceptional book or report that involves new research that enhances awareness of a folklife collection’s curation or contents. 
  • Services to Collections Professionals: Provision of education, creation of guidelines or new techniques through case studies, or development of other services centered around collection management practices that will assist and improve the efforts specifically of folklife collection management professionals (such as new software or an app; articles; or workshops/webinars).

Should have been created during the two calendar years prior to the submission deadline.

Must be nominated by a team that represents a range of project, community, and institutional partners.

The current AFS Archives and Libraries Section Prize Committee includes David Azzolina, Mary Manning, Annie Craycraft, Jordan Lovejoy, Sarah Craycraft, and Christine Blythe, chair.

The next McCallum Prize will be awarded in 2022. 

Nominations are due August 1 and should be submitted through the common AFS Prize Application Form.

Nominations should include:

A letter from the nominators explaining the relationship to the nominee and describing the nominated work. The letter should also explain the work’s connection to a folklife collection of archival materials and records and make a case for its excellence and innovative features, as well as the importance to the discipline of folklore archiving. Letters should be no more than two pages long.

Contact information for both nominators and nominees, including full names and titles, institutional affiliations (if any), mailing address, phone numbers, emails, and any relevant web links.

Access to the nominated work for evaluation by the Prize Committee. Examples:

  • Instructions on how to access a website, digital collection, software product, or app
  • Video recording or copy of digital presentation for webinars, workshops, or lectures
  • Digital access to full copies of a book, article, or similar publication, or four hard copies of each nominated work if digital access is unavailable.

For questions on these instructions, please contact the Prize Committee Chair, Christine Blythe, at [email protected].

Past McCallum Prize recipients include:

2020: Matrix: Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University for the Quilt Index. The Quilt Index (which can be found online at https://quiltindex.org/) is an open access resource compiling information on quilts and quiltmakers from collections around the world. The Index facilitates quilt research and comparison by criteria including time period, location, and pattern; additionally, the Index incorporates the voices of quilt creators and owners, as well as essays and other writings from quilt researchers. The Quilt Index‚Äôs trove of quiltmaking culture and associated works, compiled in flexible and accessible finding aids, is a wonderful resource and an excellent example of the ways in which digital tools can enhance the study of folklife collections.

2018: Editors Lauri Harvilahti, Audun Kjus, Cliona O’Carroll, Susanne Osterland-Potzsch, Fredrik Skott, and Rita Treija for their book Visions and Traditions: Knowledge Production and Tradition Archives, published by Folklore Fellows Communications (Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia and Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2018). Focused on folklore and folklife archiving, this volume compiles a series of 19 essays in 4 subject groupings that introduce the broad subject area, review past collection practices, consider archival and national policies, and discuss future challenges. 

2016: No prize awarded.

2014: The Oregon Folklife Network for their collaborative work with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs  (CTWS) to preserve, digitize, and make accessible a collection of sound recordings in the CTWS Culture & Heritage Language Department.

2012: Dr. Mark Allan Jackson for Jailhouse Bound, a project using John Lomax’s overlooked recordings to create an audio recording compilation with supporting photographs and history.

2010: Brent Burgin for the University of South Carolina SC Lancaster Native American Studies Archive, which includes the digital gallery of Catawba Nation images and the Georgia Harris online exhibit.

2009: No McCallum Award: since 2009, the Archives & Libraries Section Awards the Grimshaw Prize in odd years and the McCallum prize in even years. 2008: No prize awarded  

2007: Janet C. Gilmore and her archiving team for their report The Survey of Public Folklore Collections in the Upper Midwest, 2005-2006

Laurie Sommers, and Deborah Davis, Michael Holt, Stacey Wright, and John Taylor of the Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections, for the website for the South Georgia Folklife Collection housed at the Odum Library at Valdosta State University 

2006: No prize awarded

2005: The Florida Folklife Digitization and Education Project of the Florida State Archives for their online web presentation  of folklife collections in the archive.

2004: No prize awarded

2003: The Veterans History Project team, led by Peggy Bulger and Ellen McCulloch-Lovell of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and Timothy Lloyd at The American Folklore Society, for their collaborative effort to collect, preserve and make available audio- and video-taped oral histories, along with documentary materials, of America’s war veterans and those who served in support of them. In awarding this prize, we would like to acknowledge the expert team of archivists and processing staff at the VHP that are managing this huge collection, the oral history trainers, and all the volunteers and veterans who are gathering and sharing stories for this important national project.

The James Madison Carpenter Collection Online Catalogue project team, led by Dr. Julia Bishop of the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen and Jennifer A. Cutting at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress for their effort to make the James Madison Carpenter Collection available. In awarding this prize, we would like to acknowledge Bishop’s colleagues David Atkinson, Elaine Bradtke, Eddie Cass, Thomas A. McKean, and Robert Young Walser, as well as Cutting’s colleagues Marcia K. Segal and Michael Taft.

2002: Michael Owen Jones and the many students and contributors at UCLA who edited, expanded, and created the Online Archive of American Folk Medicine, for research into beliefs and practices relating to folk medicine and alternative health care, begun by Wayland D. Hand in the 1940s. (2001)

2001: Steve Weiss and the Manuscripts Department of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for their online multi-format collection of materials from the Goldband Recording Corporation Records at the Southern Folklife Collection. (2000)

1999: James Corsaro and Karen Taussig-Lux, for their manual Folklore in Archives: A Guide to Describing Folklore and Folklife Materials. (1998)

1997: Margaret R. Dittemore and Fred J. Hay, for the volume they edited, Documenting Cultural Diversity in the Resurgent South: Collectors, Collecting, and Collections.

1996: Stephanie A. Hall for her publication: “Ethnographic Collections in the Archive of FolkCulture: A Contributor’s Guide.”

1995: The New York Folklore Society, for its publication Working with Folk Materials in New York State: A Manual for Folklorists and Archivists (1994).

1994: Jeff Place of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage of the Smithsonian Institution, for preservation work done on the Woody Guthrie acetates which led to the publication of the Guthrie album Long Ways to Travel: The Unreleased Folkways Masters, 1944-49. Jeff described the process of preservation in the liner notes.

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