National Recording Preservation Awards Grant to Preserve Mike Seeger Collection

National Recording Preservation Foundation Grants University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $25,000 for Audio Preservation

The National Recording Preservation Foundation Grant Program announced today a $25,000 grant to the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to help support archiving and preservation of more than 600 hours of rare sound recordings recorded by traditional musician and folklorist Mike Seeger.

The National Recording Preservation Foundation is an independent 401(C)3 mandated by an act of Congress to find, preserve and make accessible the recorded history of the United States – its music, broadcast, speeches and spoken word. The Foundation helps develop strategies, coordinate policies and fund the preservation of “The Sound of America.”

Says Executive Director Gerald Seligman, “The Southern Folklife Collection is an exemplary effort to locate, preserve and provide access to the cultural treasures of the extended region. The NRPF is proud to assist them in assuring Mike Seeger’s seminal collection will be available to students, researchers – and fans.”

Mike Seeger (1933-2009) was born into the first family of American folk music. His mother and father, Ruth Crawford Seeger and Charles Seeger, assisted John and Alan Lomax at the Archive of Folksong in the Library of Congress. His brother Pete was a member of the Almanac Singers and the Weavers, while his sister Peggy is highly regarded in traditional music circles. In 1958, Seeger helped form the seminal group the New Lost City Ramblers (NLCR), a musical trio reviving old-time string-band music from the 1920s and 30s. The NLCR greatly influenced several generations of musicians, including their contemporary, Bob Dylan.

From 1950s to the 2000s Mike Seeger collected interviews, made field and studio recordings with traditional musicians as well as documented their live performances and those of the NLCR. A number of the field recordings in the Seeger collection are the original unedited masters for classic releases Seeger produced for Folkways Records (now Smithsonian Folkways) and Rounder Records. The Mike Seeger Collection provides invaluable documentation of the folk revival movement and historic performances by the finest traditional musicians of the era including those by Elizabeth Cotton, Hazel Dickens, Tommy Jarrell, Bill Monroe, Roscoe Holcomb, Almeda Riddle and many others.

This grant allows us to preserve these national treasures and provide online access to the recordings for the first time,” says Steve Weiss, Curator of the Southern Folklife Collection.

Once digitized, the materials will be accessible online through the Southern Folklife Collection website.