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rip archie green

Mr. Green, a shipwright and carpenter by trade, drew on a childhood enthusiasm for cowboy songs and a devotion to the union movement to construct a singular academic career. Returning to college at 40, he began studying what he called laborlore: the work songs, slang, craft techniques and tales that helped to define the trade unions and create a sense of group identity.

“He countered the prevailing, somewhat romantic notion that folklore was isolated in remote, marginal groups,” said Simon Bronner, who teaches folklore at Pennsylvania State University. “He showed that each of us, in our own work lives, have a folklore that we not only perform but that we need.”

At the same time, Mr. Green energetically promoted the idea of public folklore — that is, that folklorists should work outside the academy to gather, preserve and publicize local cultures through government agencies, museums, folk festivals and radio stations. His signal achievement in this area was the lonely lobbying campaign he conducted for nearly six years to create a national folklife center, which became a reality when Congress, by a unanimous vote, passed the American Folklife Preservation Act, signed into law by President Gerald R. Ford in January 1976.

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