LOC Of the People: Widening the Path: Community Collections

Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity.

Program Summary 

Through a gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Library will support a multiyear initiative that entails public participation in the creation of archival collections. Specifically, the Library of Congress seeks to award grants to support contemporary cultural documentation focusing on the culture and traditions of diverse, often underrepresented communities in the United States today. These projects will result in archival collections preserved at the American Folklife Center and made accessible through the Library of Congress’ web site. The major goals of this grant program are to enable communities to document their cultural traditions, practices, and experiences from their own perspectives, while enhancing the Library’s holdings with materials featuring creativity and knowledge found at the local level. As such, successful proposals will come from applicants within or closely affiliated with the community they propose to document.

Funding through these grants can be used to cover travel, equipment rental or purchase, and other expenses associated with cultural documentation fieldwork. American Folklife Center folklorists and archivists can assist successful applicants in providing support for specific aspects of cultural documentation activities, such as sharing expertise or training in fieldwork methods, archival practices, and associated digital technologies. Library staff will be available to provide technical advice, and work with successful applicants to facilitate a cohort for sharing knowledge and lessons learned. In consultation with American Folklife Center staff during the award process, awardees have the option to develop public programs connected to their projects in their home communities, as potentially supported by additional funds (see Section A.4.1). The American Folklife Center is seeking to build long-term relationships with grantees and to give grantees the opportunity to present their work in a forum at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

The following list is meant to inspire, but not limit, possibilities with regards to cultural documentation projects applicants might propose. Projects should include a combination of interviews, still photography, digital video, field notes, or other forms of documentation:

  • Exploration of a community festival or other culturally-meaningful celebration through interviews with organizers and participants, audio-visual documentation of activities affiliated with the event (including planning, set up, and post-event activity), and any ephemera or material culture
  • Seasonal or periodic documentation of institutions or gathering places, such as farmers markets, informal social hang-outs, craft fairs, or other periodic spaces that might serve as anchors or markers of community
  • Community-centric reflection on emergent cultural traditions or practices that have developed as responses to shared collective experience of widespread recent phenomena such as the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice movements, or economic change
  • Broad examination of community-specific cultural practices that can serve as markers of various aspects of identity, such as practices around death or bereavement, life milestones, or transition into different modes or phases of living; transmission of language or other intangible aspects of heritage; or informally learned aspects of communication that help cohere a social group
  • Community history of a neighborhood or other type of geographically-delimited collective space that tracks change and continuity from the perspective of current residents, both long-term and newly arrived, via multi-format documentation
  • Documentation focused on temporality, such as tracing traditions and their changes over time, which can include multi-sited projects, but do not need to be delimited geographically.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST June 27, 2022

Sponsor Deadline: August 1, 2022

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Project Summary (3 pages maximum): Please include: 1) the proposed project including main aims and activities; 2) the project team’s qualities and range of experience to successfully implement and complete activities; and 3) a proposed timeline.
  • PI Curriculum Vitae
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6760/home


There are no special eligibility requirements.

Limited Submission Guidelines

An eligible applicant organization may submit only one application under this announcement.

Award Information

Anticipated Number of Awards: 10

Award Amount: $50,000

Period of Performance: 12 months