It preserves and provides wide access to documentary films about the activities, voices, and experiences of members of America’s diverse regional, ethnic, religious, and occupational cultures. The films show a variety of documentary approaches but commonly let the people themselves present their own circumstances, values, and arts.
Folkstreams was conceived and developed by filmmaker Tom Davenport in 1999. He saw the importance of these films and knew from experience that their natural audiences had difficulty finding and seeing them. Many of the films are old, out of print, rare, and endangered. Others are obtainable only from little-known distributors. Their age and outdated formats, their non-standard lengths, the regional and ethnic speech of the people they feature, and their unusual subject matters have excluded most from mainstream television and from commercial DVDs.
By early 2014 Folkstreams was hosting over 220 such documentaries created since 1949. The goal of Folkstreams is to recover many more such films, deposit copies in a library for long-term preservation, and digitize and stream the films for the internet public. Along with a quarter of them it already streams background information about the making of the film and the traditions presented. Most films on Folkstreams are protected by copyright, and the filmmakers have given their permission and encouragement for the streaming. An archive of all footage and corresponding materials is kept at the [Southern Folklife Collection http://www2.lib.unc.edu/wilson/sfc/] at the Wilson Library in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
- "NPR program from 2007". NPR. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- "Alabama Arts Radio, Tom Davenport Director of Folkstreams.net". Arts.state.al.us. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- Yale Alumni Publications, Inc. "Arts & Culture (Jan/Feb 2008)". Yale Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- http://www.library.unc.edu/wilson/sfc/ Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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