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Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History: NAFOH

A guide to the Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History (NAFOH), the archival repository for the University of Maine's Maine Folklife Center and Maine's folklore and oral history.

About NAFOH

Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History (NAFOH)

NAFOH in storageNAFOH houses and manages all of the materials acquired by the Maine Folklife Center (MFC) prior the 2017 and continues to accept Maine folklife and oral history material.  In 2017, NAFOH separated from the MFC became part of in the Special Collections Department at the University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library.  Archival items donated to the Maine Folklife Center will continue to be deposited in NAFOH. 

The material in NAFOH covers a very broad range of topics. NAFOH has 200 plus collections containing over 4,000 accessions (which includes roughly 12,600 photographs, 2,500 slides, 3,000 audio recordings, and 325,000 pages of printed material) and is growing as more items are donated.

NAFOH holdings are especially strong in documentation of occupations, foodways, community histories, lore and legends, traditional music, social activities, ritual and worship, material culture, and expressive arts. Other topics include logging and the lumbering industry; fishing and lobstering; women in Maine; country and western music; northeastern multi-ethnic culture; labor history; Native Americans; and tourism and hunting.

Collections in the NAFOH include those that have been generated through various class activities and grant based initiatives, as well as materials that have been deposited by donors from outside the University community. Much of the material is in the form of oral history interviews, but there are also class papers, topical surveys, field journals, photographs, commercial publications and recordings, exhibit materials, printed ephemera, and other kinds of documentation.

Using NAFOH

At note about the organization of materials in NAFOH: all accessions are given unique ID numbers that start with NA (Northeast Archives).  Accessions that are related or donated as a unit are put into collections.  These collections are also given unique numbers, but these start with MF (Maine Folklife). Note: Many accessions are relevant to multiple collections so they have been cross-listed.

To aid researchers, we’ve created a series of curated pages with finding aids about those interested in specific topics within the collection such as music & dancerecreational hunting & fishingcommercial fishingwarcommunity/place based historiestales & storiesfamilies & peopleoccupational folklorearts & craftsWabanaki, and social issues

MFC URSUS iconYou can browse through the finding aids for NAFOH using URSUS (University Resources Serving Users Statewide). Important: Since it is a canned search within a large system, you will want to click on the “limit/sort search” and limit the results within NAFOH to the author or title (both of which in an interview refers to the interviewee), or subject (like crab picking). Unfortunately, the broader keyword search is not currently available in URSUS’s limit/sort search. If you don’t know the name of the interviewee and want a more general keyword search for an interview, use the regular URSUS keyword search but include “interviewed” as one of your key words, which should help narrow down your results (for example: “interviewed crab picking”). Look for the MFC icon pictured here in the results as a quick visual.

Finding aids and digital objects (audio, transcripts, and photos when available) for select collections are being added to the Special Collections's ArchivesSpace online database and University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library’s Digital Commons site. Please let us know which items you'd like to see most and we'll prioritize adding those!

For the non-digitized items in NAFOH, a week's notice is needed for retrieval. For digitalized items, and much of NAFOH is digitized, we are working to upload those digital objects (pdfs, mp3s, jpgs) for public access, but it is an ongoing project. If you don’t find what you are looking for, you can also request a research copy of a digital object by contacting the Special Collections Department (katrina.wynn@maine.edu or um.library.spc@maine.edu).

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