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New partnership preserves Idaho folklife

Special Collections and Archives at Boise State University’s Albertsons Library has partnered with the Folk and Traditional Arts program at the Idaho Commission on the Arts to create The Idaho Folklife Collection.

The background

The Idaho Folklife Collection was established through over 40 years of folklore fieldwork and programs conducted by the arts commission. Researchers studied long-settled and new immigrant communities across Idaho. Specialists gathered audio recordings, transcriptions, photo and video documentation, ephemera, and related material objects documenting the traditional culture, beliefs, occupational skills and expressive traditions. The collection is still being inventoried and will eventually move to Boise State. Special Collections and Archives will serve as the ongoing repository for the collection.

Public access

The goal of the partnership is to create a publicly accessible archive of past, current and future Idaho folk arts and heritage. The collection will be available to anyone from the public interested in viewing or studying the collection.

“Archives are for the public. We are excited that together we can make more of Idaho’s rich heritage available to anyone interested in learning more about Idaho’s communities and traditions,” said Cheryl Oestreicher, head of special collections and archives.

Step one

The first collection to be digitized, organized and made publicly-accessible contains fieldwork associated with Rosalie Sorrels. This collection includes work for the book Way Out in Idaho, published by the Idaho Commission on the Arts in 1990. Materials include sound recordings, photographs, notes, and other ephemera related to her time spent roaming Idaho, documenting folklife practitioners and songs related to the state.

Folk and Traditional Arts Director at the Idaho Commission on the Arts Steven Hatcher said “Our collaboration with Boise State’s Special Collections and Archives is contributing to a thriving arts community. I’m enthusiastic to return four decades of folklife documentation to the public –  where it originated. Idaho is full of everyday people doing extraordinary things on behalf of their families, communities, occupations, and expressive interests. All the material in The Idaho Folklife Collection is a testament to that. It’s a major milestone that these historic and living traditions are now accessible.”