Vermont Folklife Center - Digital Archive

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About the Vermont Folklife Center Digital Archive

The Vermont Folklife Center Digital Archive is the online access point for the digital research collections of the Vermont Folklife Center Archive.

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About the Vermont Folklife Center Archive [top]

The Vermont Folklife Center Archive is a repository that collects audio, video and photographic materials that document the diverse cultures of Vermont and the surrounding region.

The majority of holdings in the Archive are generated though ethnographic field research conducted by the professional staff of the Vermont Folklife Center, and date from 1978 to the present. These materials include the work of Founding Director Jane Beck, Executive Director Brent Bjorkman, folklorist Dr. Gregory L. Sharrow, the Center's Director of Education, and other professional folklorists, anthropologists and oral historians. The Archive also has substantial holdings of donated audio recordings, French-language song manuscripts, video recordings and photographs. The collection also includes work by professional photographers, videographers, and architectural/landscape historians, as well as research projects conducted by community scholars and school groups.

The collection documents the cultural heritage of Vermont and the surrounding region--including New England as a whole, the Canadian border, and the Northern Forest region. The materials cover the period from the 1790s (early settlement stories) through the present, although the majority of the material reflects back on events from the 1870s onward. These dates reflect the fact that an interview captures living memory, which in most cases encompasses two generations of remembered experience.

Ethnographic field research is an intimate, personal process in which interviewees share the fabric of their daily lives and experience. These people are not necessarily captains of industry--although that strand of experience is represented here as well--but rather everyday people who know what they know because it is integral to their daily lives. Thus in the archive we find farmers enumerating changes in the rural countryside, recent immigrants reflecting on the process of adjusting to life in a new culture, and Native American people exploring the interplay of heritage and identity. Each speaks from a point of view that is uniquely his or her own, but taken together with the commentaries of others, these materials present a rich tapestry of collective experience on the basis of which it is possible to generalize. Rather than simply a source of anecdotes that add personal color to the historical record, this body of materials offers an opportunity to see how people understand and represent their own lives and experience--from an insider's point of view. As a window on family and community life, the work life of an occupational group, or the identity and traditions of a religious or cultural community, ethnographic interview materials represent a unique source of information for which there is no substitute.

About the Digital Archive [top]

The Vermont Folklife Center Digital Archive allows users from across the world to access materials in the research collections of the Vermont Folklife Center via the World Wide Web. As our collections continue to be digitized and cataloged, they will be added to the Digital Archive.

As with the Vermont Folklife Center's physical collection, materials in the Digital Archive are organized into units based on the research project from which they were generated. These units, called Collections are the basic level of organization and access. Each collection is made up of a number of smaller units called Fieldwork Records that provide access to available media files such as audio recordings, still images and transcripts.

For details on browsing and searching the database, please see the browse and search instructions page.

Vermont Folklife Center Archive staff continue to catalog and add new materials to the Digital Archive. Please check back and see what’s new!