In the Spring of 2015 we gave forty years worth of our folklife documentation to the Berea College Archives in Kentucky. Visit in person, or stay tuned to access our collection online.
Ethnic Heritage and Cultural Heritage Tourism Study of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania
Schuylkill County is home to the eastern Pennsylvania anthracite coal region. Immigrants from Germany, England, Wales, Ireland, Italy, Poland, The Ukraine, Lithuania, the Carpatho-Rusyn region and other parts of the world came to mine coal in the 19th and 20th Century. Germans began arriving as farmers in the 18th Century. The late 20th and early 21st Century have seen further spicing of the ethnic makeup through the cultural influence of arrivals from Pakistan, India, other parts of Asia, and Latin America.
The Klines produced a music CD, Where the Coal Trains Load, 31 tracks of field recordings which they made in homes and churches, representing many of the County’s languages and traditions performed with passion and expertise. The Klines have been engaged with the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area to document local cultural practices from music and dance to fine crafts and culinary arts. They have determined that Schuylkill County residents are carrying on fascinating traditions which are long gone from their country of origin. Through extensive photography and digital audio recordings, Talking Across the Lines, LLC is sharing with the community aspects of its own cultural wealth. Their raw tapes and photos are housed in the Pottsville Free Public Library. They have produced an ethnographic study detailing local traditions and serving as a handbook for grassroots development of cultural heritage tourism. See Schuylkill County Ethnic Heritage Study, Come to the Old Country: A Handbook for Preserving and Sharing Schuylkill County’s Cultural Heritage. They collaborated with community members in designing a traveling exhibit celebrating ethnic diversity in Schuylkill County.
Singing Across the Lines
From 2001 to 2003 Michael and Carrie Kline directed the Southern Maryland Folklife Project, one of four Maryland Traditions projects funded by the National Endowment for the Arts Folk Arts Division, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Maryland Historical Trust and local institutions. In Southern Maryland the project was housed by Historic St. Mary’s City at Farthing’s Ordinary. It was supported in part by St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where the Klines offered courses in folklife documentation and mentored students through independent study and internships.
Each of the Maryland Traditions projects was charged with conducting a survey of folk artists and affirming these vital members of our communities. Where possible, the project connected artists with folk arts programmers for classroom and community venues.
The Southern Maryland Folklife Project documented sacred singing in African American churches deep in the tobacco country of St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert Counties. The Klines worked with community members from diverse backgrounds to develop programs which forge cross-cultural relationships with music as a basis. This project yielded a rich collection of photos and sound recordings, which are archived at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Augusta Heritage Center
Michael Kline was folklife coordinator at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV, from 1981-1988. In that capacity he produced several commercial recordings after co-founding the Augusta Heritage label. Michael was the architect for the West Virginia Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program. As folklife coordinator he conducted research throughout the state and region, orchestrating hands-on learning opportunities for students at Davis & Elkins College to interact with local folk artists and musicians.
Michael and Carrie continue to teach evening courses in folklore and music at Augusta during the summer.
Mountain Heritage Center
Michael Kline served as folklorist at the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina from 1988-1990. While in that capacity he conducted fieldwork and offered public presentations of local North Carolina mountain culture working extensively with the Cherokee. Kline produced a recording of traditional Cherokee music sung by elder Walker Calhoun, who Michael then went on to successfully nominate for a 1991 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Award.
While at the Mountain Heritage Center, Michael, along with Cherokee artist and historian Davey Arch, organized a series of educational workshops on traditional Cherokee life and arts for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
“Bear Dance” by Walker Calhoun
“Amazing Grace” by Cherokee Girls
- Read an article written by Michael Kline about Walker Calhoun, published in the Old-Time Herald (August-October 1990): Where the Ravens Roost- Songs and Ceremonies of Big Cove by Michael Kline
Pioneer Valley Folklore Society
It was a happy day when Carrie Nobel and Michael Kline met along the Sawmill River in western Massachusetts. It was folklore collection and dissemination which brought the two together. Michael served as staff folklorist for the Pioneer Valley Folklore Society from 1991-1993 under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to gather the living traditions found along the Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts. Carrie joined the effort part-time and together with other community volunteers produced finished radio programs from field recordings. Reaching Home, an hour-long radio documentary on the experience of immigrants journeying to and making their home in western New England, and Sing Me Back Home, an hour-long radio documentary on musical traditions brought to Western Massachusetts from other lands, were broadcast on WFCR-FM, Public Radio for Western New England, in the early 1990s.
The Klines, along with community interns, produced a series of public programs entitled Down By the Riverside, featuring performances and live interviews with French Canadian, Tibetan and Vietnamese residents of the Connecticut River Valley.
“Hey Zabava!” from Where the Coal Trains Load performed by the Kazka Ukrainian Folk Ensemble
“Road to Guanajuato” from Where the Coal Trains Load performed by Jorge Perez and Pablo Almendaris
“Bear Dance” by Walker Calhoun
“Amazing Grace” by Cherokee Girls
Read an article written by Michael Kline about Walker Calhoun published in the Old-Time Herald (August-October 1990):