Making decades of research by state folkloristis and scholars accessible to the public.
In 2006, the Alabama Folklife Association (AFA), Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) and the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture (ACTC), a division of the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) collaborated to establish The Archive of Alabama Folk Culture (AAFC). The AAFC is a special center with the equipment and skills needed to preserve fieldwork, research documents, recordings, and artifacts of the state's folk traditions. It is located in the newly-expanded Archives building on Washington Avenue, across from the State Capitol in Montgomery.
From January, 2013 -May, 2015, the AAFC will be funded by the Council for Library and Information Resources, Cataloguing Hidden and Special Collections and Archives program that receives monies from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This signficant grant award will provide the necessary consistent support for the project. For the past three years proceeds from the sale of "Support the Arts" car tags, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) funded the AAFC.
The initial project for the AAFC is the digitizing and archiving of the recorded performances from the Alabama Folklife Festival (1989-1993) and from the Alabama Folk Sampler Stage at Birmingham’s City Stages music festival (1991-2002). The AAFC studio is equipped to copy 78rpm records, long-play albums, reel and cassette recordings, and various other audio and video recordings to digital format.
High quality recordings were made of each performance and the collection was donated to the AAFC in 2007. Bluegrass, gospel, sacred harp and blues are some of the genres represented. Now digitized, hundreds of recorded performances are now available for listening on the Alabama Department of Archives and History website.
The AAFC is dedicated to serving archival collections. At the bottom of the page there are attached order forms that provide instructions and costs for preservation services. Direct links:
STAFF (click name to email)
AAFC Audio Visual Lab
Programs for the City Stages Festival and
the Alabama Folklife Festival
Recovering transcription discs
In February 2010 the AAFC received a set of Presto lacquer discs recorded in 1951 from the Center for the Study of the Black Belt in Livingston, Alabama to be cleaned and digitized. Presto recording machines were the recording devices that people used before the advent of home tape recorders beginning in the mid-1950s. The significance of this collection is that the recordings were of a program honoring the Noted Alabama folklorist Ruby Pickens Tartt.
Unfortunately, these type of lacquer discs were fragile and over the years would begin to peel and flake resulting in the usually irretrievalble loss of data.
Also, lacquer discs over the years often grow a layer of palmitic acid on the discs themselves requiring extensive, painstaking and careful cleaning. Such were these discs.
As it turns out, two of the discs contained previously unknown perfomances by the great Alabamian folk singers Vera Hall Ward and Anna Grace Dodson.
In the spring of 2010, the Archive of Alabama Folk Culture cleaned and transferred several homemade transcription discs recorded in 1951 of the renowned Alabama folk singer Vera Hall.
More information on Vera Hall is available at the Encyclopedia of Alabama. Click below to hear excerpts from previously unknown Vera Hall recordings.
These two excerpts are from the actual transcription discs with no noise reduction.
Courtesy of the Center for the Study of the Black Belt.
Disc has flaked, resulting in loss of data
Solutions and brushes used for cleaning and removal of palmitic acid
This cleaned disc yielded an excellent transfer
If you have material to offer, please contact the Registrar of the ADAH (334-353-4726)
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