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College of Arts & Sciences
McKissick Museum

Stan Woodward documenting upstate musicians Mac Arnold (l) and Mike King (r)

Folklife Resource Center

McKissick Museum’s Folklife Resource Center (FRC) was created in 1985 as a repository for fieldnotes, images, audio, video, and other documentary materials of value to Southern folklife researchers and the general public. Since then, several major studies of the region's folklife have been conducted with assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Humanities CouncilSC, and the South Carolina Arts Commission.

The foundation of the Museum’s folklife program, the FRC coordinates an active fieldwork schedule, feeds a variety of public programs, and encourages ongoing scholarship.  Traditions documented include sweetgrass and split-oak basketry; bluegrass and gospel music; quilting; alkaline-glazed, Catawba, and Jugtown pottery; African-American celebrations; occupational folklife, and traditional foodways.

South Carolina is remarkably diverse, both culturally and geographically. From the Appalachian Mountains to the Sea Islands, dynamic examples of folklife can be found. Rooted in family and community activities, folklife can involve song, speech, and dance...belief, ritual, and, craft, and cookery...expressive art forms learned informally by observation or active apprenticeships.

This transmission of artistic skill can occur in many different settings – the family room, workplace, church social, school recess yard, hunt club, quilting bee, beside the barbecue pit – the possibilities are endless. The traditional aspects of culture are far from static and "old timey." Folklife is dynamic by nature, a part of a community's history that continues to develop every day, with every generation. Folklife is contemporary and relevant, not simply a quaint reminder of activities fading from modern society's experience. An inseparable part of our lives, folklife encompasses aspects of culture that provide a connection to the past, identity in the present, and continuity for the future. For a list of folklife projects, please see the file below in the attachments section.

Digital Traditions

The Digital Traditions web site was developed to provide unprecedented access to the Folklife Resource Center through an extensive online collection of audio, video, and image-based media. Never before has the material housed in the FRC been available to such a wide audience.  Funded through a major federal grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Digital Traditions is a living site, content is be added on a regular basis, so be sure to check back often as the site continues to grow!

South Carolina Arts Commission

McKissick Museum works in partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission to enrich South Carolina's thriving arts environment with McKissick's public programming and ongoing field research into the state's deep folk roots. For more information on many of the Arts Commission's programs and advocacy, visit

Ordering Information

For reproduction costs of materials in the Folklife Resource Center, please see our fee schedule, below. The center is open to the public by appointment. For additional information or research appointments, please contact Saddler Taylor, Chief Curator of Folklife and Fieldwork, at 803.777.7251.


Image Caption: Stan Woodward documents upstate musicians Mac Arnold,  Mike King, and Freddie Vanderford (l to r). Circle M BBQ, Liberty, SC, 2012.

PDF icon FRC General Brochure.pdf PDF icon FRC Fee Schedule.pdf PDF icon FRC Project Listing.pdf