Northwest Folklife’s Debbie Fant Receives Archie Green Fellowship in Support of “Washington Works” Program

We are excited to announce that Northwest Folklife’s Deputy Director, Debbie Fant, has been awarded an Archie Green Fellowship by the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress! Fellowship funds will support the ongoing project “Washington Works,” a series of interviews with union workers throughout Washington state.

Working in cooperation with the Washington State Labor Council, Debbie will conduct approximately fifty interviews with a representative cross-section of Washington’s union workers, from farm workers to nurses, construction workers to teachers, bus drivers to machinists. The interviews will cover many topics: a description of a particular job, the way it’s done now with a comparison to the way the interviewee learned to do the work, tales connected with the kind of work being performed,  family dynasties in unions, uniforms or clothing, strikes, food on the job, jokes, and comeuppances.
The interviews will be used as the basis for video documentaries, radio programs, website enrichment, and public programming at the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival. Each interview will be deposited in the archives of the Library of Congress. In addition to augmenting the AFC’s collection of Washington state materials, copies will also be deposited at the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.
This fellowship comes at the perfect time for Northwest Folklife. We will be featuring occupational folklore as the Cultural Focus for the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival! In recent years the Cultural Focus has also guided year-round programming. We look forward to presenting monthly programs that honor the culture and traditions of the region’s workers throughout 2013.
In the past, Debbie coordinated the Cultural Focus with groups such as Bulgarian immigrants (2010), urban Native American populations (2008), Arab groups (2006), and Horn of Africa communities (2004). She has had considerable fieldwork experience throughout her career, documenting the folk groups of Southwest Florida, traditional artists in Idaho, cowboy poets in Nevada, and musicians in Texas.
“Debbie’s folklore work has been recognized nationally and we are fortunate to have her work associated with Northwest Folklife,” says Executive Director Robert Townsend.  “The product of her efforts for this Fellowship will be an asset to our organization and of great benefit to the subjects, the collection at the Library of Congress and the public at large. It will also be something for supporters of Folklife to look forward to throughout the year and at the 2013 Festival.”
Other 2012 recipients of an Archie Green Fellowship include Hannah Harvester of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), folklorist Ellen McHale, Murl Riedel of the Kansas Humanities Council and writer/photographer Candacy Taylor.
The Archie Green Fellowship Program was created in 2009 to honor the memory of Archie Green (1917-2009), a pioneering folklorist who championed the establishment of the American Folklife Center. Green was a scholar and advocate for the documentation and analysis of the culture and traditions of American workers. The fellowships are intended to support new, original, independent field research into the culture and traditions of American workers and/or occupational groups.
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American Folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the American Folklife Center Archive of folk culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information, visit
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website,
If you are interested in tracking this project, visit this webpage with more information, and follow us on Facebook.