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

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Table of Contents

About the Vermont Folklife Center Archive [top]

The Vermont Folklife Center Archive contains the products of the Vermont Folklife Center’s ethnographic research work, as well as materials donated by others conducting ethnographic and oral history research in Vermont and the surrounding region.

The core of the Vermont Folklife Center archival collection consists of approximately 6,000 audio field recordings of interviews and regional traditional music, and associated still images and manuscripts all created from the late 1940s to date. Audio materials span a range of analog and digital audio recording media including instantaneous lacquer disk, open reel analog tape, analog audiocassettes, Digital Audio Tape (DAT), MiniDisc, and born-digital audio files. Images include 35mm color slides, monochrome and color photographic prints and negatives, and digital image files. Manuscripts in the collection include interview transcripts, song and musical transcriptions, as well as digital text files.

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. 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 digital holdings of the Vermont Folklife Center Archive include two streams of content: 

1) Analog audio source material, photographic prints, slides and negatives, and manuscripts that were created between 1945 and 1995 and digitized between 2003 and the present for the purposes of preservation and access, and 

2) Born-digital audio, images and text generated from approximately 2004 to date. The total quantity of digital material in the collection consists of 5 terabytes of data.

Since 2003, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, the Grammy Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources and other agencies, VT Folklife has engaged in digitizing audio recordings, still images and manuscripts in the collection for the purposes of increasing their accessibility and ensuring their long-term preservation. All digitization work has been conducted in accordance with best practices established by CLIR, Collaborative Digitization Program, International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives, and the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative.

In addition to digital surrogates generated from analog source materials, since 2004 the VT Folklife Archive has increasingly accessioned born digital audio, still and moving images, and text generated by VT Folklife staff through ethnographic field work, as well as materials donated to the repository by outside researchers.

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