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George Vlahakis
IU Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Traditional Arts Indiana director receives prestigious American Folklife Center fellowship

May 28, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jon Kay, director of Traditional Arts Indiana and a research scholar in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, has been awarded an Archie Green Fellowship by the American Folklife Center.

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

Kay will share the fellowship with Brent Björkman, who directs the Kentucky Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University. Together they work to document "Ranger Lore."

In cooperation with state and national park personnel, they will conduct ethnographic and oral history interviews documenting the occupational traditions and experiences of park rangers working in their neighboring states. Fieldwork will consist primarily of 70 long-form interviews with past and current park rangers and related personnel connected to this distinct occupational group.

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.

Traditional Arts Indiana is a partnership established in 1998 between IU Bloomington and the Indiana Arts Commission. It is dedicated to expanding public awareness of Indiana's traditional practices and nurturing a sense of pride among Indiana's traditional artists. Traditional Arts Indiana identifies, documents and seeks to understand more fully the many ways in which cultural values are embedded in daily life. The Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology is based in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Green 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.

Kay and Björkman's research will be preserved in the American Folklife Center archive and made available to researchers and the public.