SUNY Brockport Historian Writes for National Council on Public History Blog

Mississippi John Hurt performs at the 1964 Berkeley Folk Music Festival's Jubilee Concert, held in the University of California
Michael J. Kramer, Assistant Professor of History, writes about the Berkeley Folk Music Festival Project as multimodal digital public history at NCPH’s History@Work Blog.

In a three-part essay at the National Council on Public History’s History@Work Blog, Dr. Michael J. Kramer, Assistant Professor of History at SUNY Brockport, wrote about how the Berkeley Folk Music Festival Project developed from a long-ignored archival collection at Northwestern University’s Special Collections Library to a fully digital, multimodal public history endeavor. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the BFMF Project includes an open-source, searchable repository of over 30,000 artifacts; an introductory digital exhibit curated by Kramer; an upcoming series of multimedia essays; an audio podcast in development; digital lesson plans for teachers; and, eventually, a traveling, in-person gallery exhibit.

To bring the project forward, Kramer has collaborated with librarians, archivists, computer programmers, web designers, musicians who performed at the Festival, organizers of the event, attendees at BFMF, podcasters, other scholars, and, most of all, wonderful and talented student researchers at Brockport and other universities and colleges.

Out of this collective work, a notion of public history as folk music “hootenanny” has emerged. Hootenannies were fun but often quite serious gatherings at which musicians would share songs and sing together, and listen to each other. With the Berkeley Project, individual voices and talents have come together in service of deeper understanding, learning, and sharing of knowledge and reflection about folk music, 1960s history, and questions of race, gender, class, region, and cultural heritage.

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Posted: February 28, 2022