Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

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The Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections is housed in the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington, D.C., United States.

The Ralph Rinzler Archives consist of two major collections. The first is the Moses and Frances Asch collection, which consists of the original recordings, business records, correspondence, and photographic material that came to the Smithsonian with the purchase of Folkways Records in 1987. It also contains recordings on the Paredon, Cook, Dyer-Bennet, Fast Folk, and Monitor labels that have been subsequently acquired by the Smithsonian. These labels are currently operated by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

The Rinzler Archives also houses an extensive collection of recordings documenting ethnic music traditions from around the world, early American country music and bluegrass, blues, and examples of folk revival performances on other labels. Listening copies of most of the Folkways catalog are kept in the Archives, and are available to researchers.

The other major archival collection in the Rinzler Archives consists of the written, audio, and visual records of projects and exhibits sponsored by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage: most notably, more than three decades of recordings documeting fieldwork, research and performances related to the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival (formerly known as the Festival of American Folklife), which takes place each summer on the National Mall of the United States in Washington, D.C.

The Archives' holdings are global in perspective, and include 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 music and performance traditions. These are living archives, from which recordings and videotapes are regularly issued or reissued for enjoyment and scholarly research.

Highlights of Rinzler Archive holdings[edit]

  • more than 17,300 commercial discs
  • 4000 acetate discs
  • approximately 45,000 audiotapes (reel, cassette, DAT)
  • more than 2000 CDs
  • over 1,000,000 still images
  • 2500 videotapes
  • more than 500,000 feet of motion picture film
  • drawings and posters
  • files of correspondence and business records for Folkways and other labels held by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
  • Woody Guthrie lyrics, correspondence, and drawings (part of Folkways Collection)

Specific collections[edit]