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WKU Kentucky Folklife Director Earns Award

wku brentHENDERSON, Ky. (6/11/13) –Brent Björkman, director of the Kentucky Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University, has been awarded an Archie Green Fellowship by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress awards the Green fellowships to stimulate research in occupational folklore across the country. Only four fellowships were awarded for 2013.

In cooperation with state and national park personnel, Björkman and collaborator Jon Kay, Director of Traditional Arts Indiana at Indiana University, will conduct ethnographic and oral history interviews documenting the occupational traditions and experiences of park rangers working in their neighboring states. In addition to fostering cooperative regional research, this study is particularly timely since both the National Park Service and the Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs system will celebrate their centennials in 2016.

Archie Green, the scholar for which the fellowship was named, was a pioneering folklorist who championed the establishment of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. As a scholar, he documented and analyzed the culture and traditions of American workers and encouraged others to do the same.

The Kentucky Folklife Program moved to WKU’s Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology in Potter College of Arts & Letters in 2012 after 20 years as a successful interagency program of the Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Arts Council. The Kentucky Folklife Program remains dedicated to the mission of identifying, documenting and conserving the Commonwealth’s diverse cultural traditions. In October 2012, the archives of the Kentucky Folklife Program merged with the existing WKU Folklife Archives at the Kentucky Museum to create one of the most extensive and dynamic archives of culture and folklife in Kentucky.

The research produced by Björkman and Kay will be preserved in both the American Folklife Center archive in Washington, D.C., and at the Kentucky Folklife Program Archive and made available to researchers and the public.

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