Skip to main content


The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage produces the Smithsonian Folklife Festival which has generated a number of related publications. In addition, the Center produced the Talk Story print newsletter between 2005 and 2008.

Good Work: Masters of the Building Arts

Directed by Marjorie Hunt and Paul Wagner

“You cannot do this work if you don’t appreciate it. It’s some precious work. It’s like a diamond, like a jewel, and it’s for you to preserve it.” —Earl A. Barthé, master plasterer

In this inspiring film, master artisans from across America—stone carvers, masons, terra cotta artisans, plasterers, metalsmiths, stained glass artisans, decorative painters, and adobe craftsmen—share their delight in skill, their dedication to preserving and passing on their craft traditions to a new generation, and their pride and satisfaction in Good Work.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and American Focus, Inc., 2016
DVD, 65 minutes
Order from Amazon

Cover Image

Curatorial Conversations: Cultural Representation and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Edited by Olivia Cadaval, Sojin Kim, and Diana Baird N’Diaye

Curatorial Conversations brings together for the first time in one volume the combined expertise of the Folklife Festival’s curatorial staff―past and present―in examining the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s representation practices and their critical implications for issues of intangible cultural heritage policy, competing globalisms, cultural tourism, sustainable development and environment, and cultural pluralism and identity.

Contributions by Robert Baron, Betty Belanus, Olivia Cadaval, James Deutsch, C. Kurt Dewhurst, James Early, Amy Horowitz, Marjorie Hunt, Richard Kennedy, Sojin Kim, Marsha MacDowell, Diana Baird N’Diaye, Jeff Place, Frank Proschan, Jack Santino, Daniel Sheehy, Cynthia L. Vidaurri, and Steve Zeitlin.

University Press of Mississippi, 2016
71 black-and-white photos, 304 pages
ISBN: 1496805984
Order from University Press of Mississippi

Smithsonian Folklife Festival:
Culture Of, By, and For the People

by Richard Kurin

This book provides a Festival history, an explanation of how the Festival is produced, analysis of various programs, and some of the best images and quotes about the Festival over the first thirty-two years.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 1997 (out of print)
200+ full-color photos, 184 pages
ISBN: 0-9665520-0-8
Read as PDF

Cover Image

The Stone Carvers:
Master Craftsmen of Washington National Cathedral

by Marjorie Hunt

This book presents the lives and work of two Italian American master stone carvers—Roger Morigi and Vincent Palumbo—who spent decades creating the many sculptures and decorations that embellish the Washington National Cathedral. Exploring the carvers’ underlying aesthetic attitudes, Hunt reveals the spirit of creativity and mastery that infuses their work. She describes their backgrounds and apprenticeships in Italy, showing how memory and tradition continue to shape their art. The book records the stone-carving process, highlighting the complex body of technical knowledge and skill that carvers bring to their work. Based on nearly two decades of fieldwork and research, this generously illustrated book resounds with the stone carvers’ voices—with their memories, stories, and experiences, their values and ideals.

Smithsonian Books, 1999
100 duotone photographs, 8x10”, 208 pages
ISBN: 1-56098-829-0 (paperback)
Order from Amazon  or Random House

Cover Image

Reflections of a Culture Broker:
A View from the Smithsonian

by Richard Kurin, with an introduction by I. Michael Heyman

Drawing on his diverse experiences in producing exhibitions and public programs, the Smithsonian’s Richard Kurin challenges culture brokers—museum professionals, filmmakers, journalists, festival producers, scholars, etc.—to reveal more clearly the nature of their interpretations. Kurin discusses the ethical and technical problems faced by anyone charged with representing culture in a public forum.

Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997
ISBN: 156098757X
Order from Smithsonian Folkways

Cover Image

The New American Cooking

by Joan Nathan

Joan Nathan, guest curator of the Food Culture USA program at the 2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, shares years of fieldwork in communities across the United States. Like the Festival program, the book explores the increased diversity of American food over the last forty years. Through the voices of cooks, chefs, and growers, Nathan describes the union of tradition and innovation in the contemporary American food landscape.

Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
ISBN: 1-4000-4034-5
Order from Random House

Cover Image

The Trial Lawyer’s Art

by Sam Schrager

Based on research conducted by Sam Schrager in curating the American Trial Lawyers program at the 1986 Folklife Festival, The Trial Lawyer’s Art looks at trial lawyers as storytellers who artfully employ plot conventions to make their case.

Temple University Press, 2000
ISBN: 1566397995
Order from Amazon

Cover Image

Llamas, Weavings, and Organic Chocolate

by Kevin Healy

After co-curating the Culture and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean program at the 1994 Folklife Festival, Kevin Healy compiled twenty years of research, fieldwork, and grassroots development work into Llamas, Weavings, and Organic Chocolate.

“Here is a candid, vivid, and inspiring ‘inside view’ of local projects, which are redefining the meaning of development and forcing Bolivia to come to terms with its rich multi-cultural heritage. It is an essential book for Latin American scholars, students, NGOs, and activists committed to cultural pluralism, grassroots democracy, and biodiversity in the new global order. Perhaps even more so, this book should be required reading at the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the IMF.”
Dr. Brooke Larson, Department of History, SUNY-Stony Brook

University of Notre Dam Press, 2001
ISBN: 0-268-01326-8
Order from Amazon or University of Notre Dame Press

Cover Image

Talk Story Newsletter

“Talk story” is a Hawaiian expression, used as a noun or verb, meaning “an informal chat” or “to chat informally.” Between 2005 and 2008, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage published the Talk Story electronic newsletter bi-monthly. These are now available to view or download as PDFs. Talk Story: Culture in Motion is the web-only revival started in 2014.

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Cultural Vitality Program, educational outreach, and more.