Join West Virginia state folklorist Emily Hilliard at The Lexington Gathering on Saturday, February 9 for a guided exploration of recordings and ephemera of non-professional women songwriters in Appalachia, including Nora E. Carpenter of Magoffin Co. Kentucky, Shirley Campbell of Kanawha Co. West Virginia, Cora Hairston of Logan Co. West Virginia, Elaine Purkey of Lincoln Co. West Virginia, and Ella Hanshaw of Clay Co. West Virginia. We will celebrate and explore the work of these talented women, including their songwriting scrapbooks and self-documentation, daily creative expression and inspiration, and the importance of their songwriting and musicianship within their own communities.
The Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons fund was founded by American Folklife Center reference librarian Gerry Parsons (1940-1995) in honor of his parents. Parsons Fund Awards provide support to bring people to the Library of Congress to make use of primary ethnographic materials housed at AFC and elsewhere at the Library.
Emily Hilliard, West Virginia’s State Folklorist, was awarded a Parsons Fund Award for a one-week research trip to research AFC’s collection of sound recordings, photographs, field notes, and ephemera related to West Virginia, focusing particularly on archival content related to African Americans and other cultural communities whose “presence and contributions are often marginalized in historical and vernacular culture narratives of the Mountain State.” Her research will inform ongoing and future work of the West Virginia Folklife Program and culminate in a series of multimedia blog posts.
"What role does folklore play in modern life? What is folklore, anyway? In this episode, Amelia Golcheski interviews West Virginia state folklorist Emily Hilliard to learn why folklore is more than just myths and legends. It can also be about labor movements, local histories, and even the “right” way to eat a hot dog. Amelia and Emily also discuss the recent teachers’ strike in West Virginia, misconceptions about life in so-called “Trump Country,” and approaches to public humanities that are invested in showing the importance of regional history."
Listen via Public Work
Via Bitter Southerner:
Story by Emily Hilliard | Photographs by Gabe DeWitt | Video by Coat of Arms
"This story was more than a year in the making. Emily Hilliard, the founder of the West Virginia Folklife Program based at the West Virginia Humanities Council, came to us wanting to document an entire year in one of the South’s most interesting small towns — Helvetia, West Virginia, population 59. In a high mountain valley “an hour from anywhere,” the little town sustains the traditions of the Swiss immigrants who settled there in 1869. Emily gave us a glorious look at Helvetia’s seasonal celebrations — and a deep understanding of how this isolated community draws strength from its land, its history, and its people."
Hilliard was awarded a 2016 Henry Reed Fund Award from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for “West Virginia Folklife Presents Ballad Singer Phyllis Marks,” a public programming and documentation project highlighting the career and contributions of the respected octogenarian West Virginia traditional ballad singer Phyllis Marks. The documentation of this September 2016 free public concert is now among the holdings of the Archive of Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The collection includes audio recording, video recording, digital photographs, concert program, and oversize poster and is available for research and public viewing via the Library of Congress.