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Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

About the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

For information on consulting materials in the archives, please go here.

The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is home to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. The Rinzler Archives houses two major collections. One collection is the Moses and Frances Asch collection, which consists of original recordings, business records, correspondence and photographic material which came to the Smithsonian with the purchase of Folkways Records in 1987. The recordings on the Paredon, Cook, Dyer-Bennet, Fast Folk, and Monitor labels have since been acquired by the Center. An online database of our commercially available recordings is available on the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Web site. Listening copies of most of the catalog are kept in the archives, available to researchers. The archives also has a strong collection of world ethnic music traditions, early country music and bluegrass, blues, and the Folk Revival on other labels available for in-house listening and research.

The other major archival collection in the Rinzler Archives consists of the written, audio, and visual records of projects and exhibits sponsored by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, most notably the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, formerly known as the Festival of American Folklife.

The subject material of the various collections is global in perspective and covers such topics as world ethnic performance traditions, historical and spoken word recordings, sounds of science and nature, occupational folklore, and family folklore. The collections are also strong in American, and more specifically Euro-American, African-American, Caribbean, and Native American musical and performance traditions.

These are living archives, from which recordings and films are being issued or reissued for enjoyment and scholarly research.

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Ralph Rinzler. Photo from the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.

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