Alabama Community Scholars Program

Alabama Community Scholars Institute 2014

Certificate in Material Culture Studies

To Begin:  Take the Applicant Survey

Click Here and answer 5 questions


  1. Attend at least 30 hours of Common Threads including hours at either the Friday program or Saturday workshop.
  2. Attend one extra field trip to meet a quilter or view an exhibtion or attend a quilting group (guild) or sewing group meeting (*other than the one you might normally attend).  Write 1 typed page single-spaced about your experience and what you learned or did not learn.
  3. Submit a final project proposal based on what you have learned. Proposal should include abstract, introduction or mission/ purpose, methodology, significance of topic or subject or the project/program, steps to complete or implement, evaluation method, and sources of information to be used.  This should be typed, single-spaced, and 3-5 pages.



Who should participate?  ACSI is valuable to people involved with local museums, arts councils, festivals, and cultural tourism.  Librarians, community educators, and genealogists can also benefit and enjoy the training program.  Students interested in the fields of folklore, sociology, anthropology, art history, ethnomusicology, history, Englis

h, or American Studies, who plan to do oral history projects can sharpen their research skills by participating.

What will you learn?: To recognize folklife traditions, conduct field surveys, interview and record oral history, document folkways in photographs and videos.  Students will learn the steps to logging and transcribing interviews and methods to prepare collections for archives and preservation.  The workshop will end with students contributing to the local cultural conservation by conducting fieldwork and throughout they will share ideas and methods for presenting their local traditions through exhibits, publications, documentary films, educational programs, and special events.

What is meant by "traditional culture?" 
ACSI teaches participants to recognize and study living aspects of our our own culture passed from generation to generation within families and communities.  Decoration days, Sacred Harp singings, fishing, hunting, foodways, quilts, baskets, pottery, and community celebrations are examples of cultural products that represent Alabama traditions.  

Click here to view a list of research projects proposed by AC

SI participants for 2004, 2006, and 2008. 

Interviews and photos by ACSI 2008 scholars on the subject of Mobile Mardi Gras are posted on the Alabama Mosaic website.

To Listen to a 30-minute radio program about ACSI 2004, click here. Scroll to "Community Scholars Institute."

The Alabama Community Scholars Institute took place at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, June 20-28, 2008.  Twenty-five extremely sharp participants learned to document their own commun

ity traditions and gain experience in doing so by studying Mardi Gras and interviewing those who take part in it. 




Last Year---

June 11-14, 2013 in Cullman, Alabama

BROCHURE in PDF format for download

List of Workshop Leaders and Speakers (PDF)

The Alabama Community Scholars Institute (ACSI) is a training program for people who want to research, document and present various aspects of Alabama’s traditional culture—the music,food, crafts, stories, celebrations, work traditions, etc., of their own communities.

   In our efforts to return to providing this unique program, we will begin in 2013 with a mini-institute in a very special place, Cullman, Alabama.  Steeped in a rich German heritage and home to Ave Maria Grotto, North Alabama Agriplex, Peinhardt Living History Farm, and the Cullman County Museum, the town also has a thriving historic downtown district filled with unique locally owned shops and businesses as well as churches, and schools.  Well known to the state of Alabama for economic contributions in agriculture, Cullman is the center of trade and commerce for a vast collection of century and heritage farms that spread across the surrounding landscape.  The traditions, landscapes, architectural treasurers, cultural heritage, and community pride have served to help Cullman recover from the recent tornado.

     St. Bernard Retreat Center:  Covered by a small tuition fee, students will be able to stay at St. B

ernard Retreat Center on the campus with St. Bernard Abbey and School.  Students will enjoy a beautiful and peaceful historic landscape and eat in the dining hall.  Throughout your stay, you will be exposed to the contributions of the Benedictine monks to the local architecture, culture, heritage preservation, education, spirituality, and community service.


What Community Scholars have said about ACSI:
“The two-week intensive training provided me with the tools and skills that I needed to productively begin my documentation projects. The AFA did an excellent job of choosing an enthusiastic and motivated group of Community Scholars. I was able to network and get to know people who have proven to be great resources and gatekeepers. Everyone at the Institute had a fascinating project that they were working on.” Amy LeePard, Tuscaloosa

“The Institute resulted in our museum writing a successful grant to conduct field work documenting Croatian culture in our county. We are in the process of interviewing the tradition bearers and have gleaned new and fascinating information about this distinct local culture. Our budget is very small and the museum couldn’t afford to pay for this type of training. Without the Institute, our museum would have never undertaken this important field work.” Kerry Reid, Director, Clarke County Museum

“As a result of attending ACSI I am now in a position to assist in leading my community toward the development of cultural tourism programming. As an economic development tool, such programs are intended to assist in replacing jobs lost due to out-sourcing within the textile industry, an industry that has long been the mainstay of our local economy. This year

several new festivals and events are already being planned and presented for our community.” Russell Gulley

“I feel one of the long-range benefits of the Community Scholars Institute was its influence on the participants to become informal ambassadors for the on-going preservation of local culture and customs. I believe everyone who attended went back to their own communities with a renewed enthusiasm for documenting, saving and otherwise preserving folkways unique to each person’s locale.” Susan Thomas, Mobile

2004.06.08 Community Scholars.pdf492.29 KB
2013brochure.pdf1.75 MB
Teaching Institute4.2013.pdf1.45 MB
ACSI.Speakers.2013.pdf337.37 KB
maps2013small.pdf303.03 KB
2013Notebooks.pdf997.87 KB
MS Arts Commission - Folk & Traditional Arts Position Announcement.pdf78.64 KB
MS Arts Commission - Folk & Traditional Arts Position Announcement.pdf78.64 KB