Archives Alive: The North Carolina Jukebox Project

Project Summary

This project transforms an inaccessible audio archive of historic North Carolina folk music colllected by Frank Clyde Brown in the 1920s-40s into a vital, publicly accessible digital archive and museum exhibition. 

Themes and Categories
Year

Project Team

  • Trudi Abel & Victoria Szabo
  • Louise Mentjes, Laura Williams, Winston Atkins, Craig Breaden Meghan O’Neill & Philip MacDonald
  • Peter Ciporin, Ruochen Hao, Laura Perez, Jaehoon Sung, Alina Walling 

Project Objective

  • Explore the FCB ”hidden collection” of folk music recordings
  • Create media rich, sustainable archives and exhibitions for diverse audiences and purposes
  • Return the music to the NC communities of origin and critically engage with the ethics of repatriation
  • Engage in sustained interdisciplinary engagement in a public-facing digital humanities teaching/research project

Methodology

  • Perform collaborative research individual singers and songs in the FCB collection of folk song performances
  • Develop a data model, template and software framework for the online archive and mobile application
  • Conduct a study of the archive’s effectiveness with diverse audiences, including heritage musicians
  • Explore techniques for “data mining” incomplete and fragmentary, audio, visual, and textual materials

The impact of the archive will be assessed through scholarly and public responses to our research findings, digital archives, and physical and virtual exhibitions 

Conclusions

  • NC folk and popular music is rich and complex
  • Primary source material engagement enhances pedagogical impact
  • Collaborative digital exhibits are viable approach to critical cultural heritage research and presentation 

Insights

  • Cultural history is a complex process of selection, presentation, and interpretation by multiple agents
  • Bringing cultural heritage to life is a vital goal for Bass Connections as a public good 

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Image credit:

J.M.W. Turner, Slave Ship, 1840, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (public domain)

Faculty Lead: Charlotte Sussman

Project Manager: Emma Davenport