July 2, 2015

NC Field is the North Carolina Folklife Institute's blog about folklore in the field and about the field of folklore.

Here you’ll find an eclectic combination of topics and treatments:
Celebrations of our state’s tradition bearers and of the expressions of the diverse cultural heritages found across North Carolina’s 100 counties. Reflections from practicing folklorists on their experiences, whether sharing great stories and pictures or unexpected challenges of fieldwork. And musings on the art and science of folklore documentation and theory – new trends, making connections, happy accidents . . . maybe even a radical suggestion or two. You just never know what you might discover when you start connecting the dots.

You can also join our Facebook page or our Twitter feed to keep up with the latest issues and events in North Carolina folklife.

Tyris Jones, Storytelling as a Craft

Storyteller Tyris Jones

by Sarah Bryan By returning to his roots, Tyris Jones discovered a new path in life. The Laurinburg native lived away from his hometown for years, but when he came back to live in Scotland County, he was inspired to combine his professional background and his family traditions into a new career as a storyteller. Jones has always had a love for stories and performance. He remembers absorbing his older relatives’ … [Read more...]

Help NC continue its forward looking arts policy


The North Carolina Arts Council has released a draft plan for the arts over the next four years and is seeking public input through an online survey. The document that results will be a new strategic plan to shape the future of NC arts for the next four years – 2015-2019. If you think this is just a bureaucratic requirement that doesn’t connect to your daily arts experience, you should think again. Whether they … [Read more...]

Encouraging “Place-Rooted” Development: Notes from Stone Country

stone cutting demonstration

by Joseph O'Connell In the late 1970s, Bedford, Indiana began investing in the construction of a nine-story-tall pyramid. Made from locally-quarried limestone, the pyramid was intended as the centerpiece and chief attraction of a heritage park interpreting the local architectural stone industry. As a symbol, it would invite the comparison between Bedford’s achievements and those of a great, ancient … [Read more...]

Ethics of the documented – Finding Vivian Maier

Finding Vivian Maier poster

The newly released documentary Finding Vivian Maier tells the story of John Maloof's purchase of a box full of old negatives at auction, hoping they would relate to the book he was writing about his Chicago neighborhood. Instead, they led him to the discovery of street photographer Vivian Maier. As Maloof learns more about her work (which is stunning), he tries to uncover more about the woman as well. The film … [Read more...]

May Day – Tom Dula’s Hanging and the Ethics of the Documented

Tom Dula's grave

On this day in history - May 1, 1868 - Thomas C. Dula was hanged in Statesville, NC for the murder of Laura Foster. Dula (pronounced "Dooley"), the bloody murder, and subsequent trial became the infamous subjects of the "Ballad of Tom Dooley." Much has been written over the years about the actual murder, the ballad, and American murder ballads in general. (And if you meander through the links in this post, you … [Read more...]

Storytelling Animals

Listen to Your Mother logo

by Joy Salyers, Executive Director On May 6th and 8th, I’ll be participating in the Raleigh performances of a national movement called Listen to Your Mother. 32 cities nationwide are hosting these live staged readings in honor of Mother's Day, each directed, produced, and performed by local communities, for local communities. Last year was the first time Raleigh participated, and the show quickly sold out. Not a … [Read more...]

A Class Perspective on Daylight Saving Time


by Joy Salyers, NC Folk Executive Director How is your first work day on Daylight Saving Time winding down? If you are like some of my Facebook friends, it wasn’t an easy start. “Last time I was up before the sun it was to catch a flight for a fun weekend. Today is just to go to work . . . .” or “I like having the evening light longer but having to arrive at work again in the pitch black of night sucks!” And a … [Read more...]

Pete Seeger’s lessons for we who sing, and we who stand nearby

photo of Pete Seeger at the Newport Folk Festival 2009

(Pete Seeger at the Great Hudson River Revival, 2011)   (Post title comes from Seeger's song, "To My Old Brown Earth") Last Monday morning sometime after six, I heard the radio talking about Pete Seeger’s career and said aloud, “Oh, no.” Throughout the day and week I read many tributes and memorials in the news and on websites, which followed similar themes. First we highlighted the personal connections … [Read more...]

Remembering Ted Hicks

Ted Hicks

  by Tom McGowan The death of Ted Hicks last Friday deprives our community and the community of scholars and storytelling artists of an extraordinary bearer of family and local traditions. Born in 1954 in Avery County, the son of Ray and Rosa Hicks, Ted stayed at home in their iconic weathered house on the lower slopes of Beech Mountain, tended his family’s herb gathering and gardening, listened to the … [Read more...]