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Arizonans encouraged to participate in Inauguration 2009 Sermons and Orations Project

[Source: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress] — On January 20, 2009, the United States will inaugurate Barack Obama, the country’s first African American president.  In anticipation of citizens’ efforts to mark this historic time around the country, the American Folklife Center will be collecting audio and video recordings of sermons and orations that comment on the significance of the inauguration of 2009.  It is expected that such sermons and orations will be delivered at churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship, as well as before humanist congregations and other secular gatherings.  The American Folklife Center is seeking as wide a representation of orations as possible.

Individuals and groups interested in contributing to the Inauguration 2009 Sermons and Orations Project are asked to submit audio and video recordings made in digital or other approved formats.  To be accepted into the collection, the recordings must be of sermons and orations that were delivered to congregations and other audiences between Friday, January 16 and Sunday, January 25, 2009.

In addition to audio and video recordings, the American Folklife Center is collecting written texts of sermons and orations (submitted in the form of print or electronic media), as well as printed programs from the events during which the sermons and orations were delivered.  All submissions must be postmarked by February 27, 2009, and must be accompanied by signed release forms and a completed information form, found on this website.  For additional information about the Inauguration 2009 Sermons and Orations Project, call the American Folklife Center at 202-707-5510 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, Eastern Standard Time.

Depression-era interviews of 700 Arizonans preserved

[Source: Richard Ruelas, Arizona Republic] — The Works Progress Administration, a government public-works program started during the Great Depression, didn’t just leave Arizona with canals and sidewalks.  It also preserved some personal human history.  The project yielded oral histories of about 700 residents, most of whom were elderly when they were interviewed in the 1930s.  Consider them slices of government-funded history.

The WPA, later renamed the Work Projects Administration, was part of the New Deal that President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted during the Great Depression.  It included projects such as those canals and sidewalks.  But writers needed jobs, too.  So did teachers, librarians, artists, and other white-collar workers.  But according to the Web site of the Library of Congress, there was a belief that these folks might not make good bricklayers.  So the government launched the Federal Writers’ Project.  Part of its mission was to document life histories.  The project lasted from 1935 to 1939, before federal funding was yanked.

Melanie Sturgeon, director of Arizona’s History and Archives Division, said most of the interviews were done by the time federal funding dried up.  “By the time 1939 was over,” she said, “they were just cleaning (the interviews) up.”  Twelve boxes containing interviews are stored in the new Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building in downtown Phoenix.  The material is available for viewing in the archives center, just west of the State Capitol.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]