FOLK New England is a 6-year old non-profit organization based in Massachusetts, not far from Harvard Square where the folk music revival of the 1960s ushered in a social revolution.
Founded by Betsy Siggins in 2009, FOLK New England’s mission is to document, preserve, interpret and present the ongoing cultural legacy of folk music in all its forms, with emphasis on New England’s contribution to the enrichment of North American life.
FOLK New England’s mission continues a dialogue between New England’s distinct folk music heritage and its future, through the establishment of a regional folk music archive, robust collections development and access, multi-disciplinary outreach and education, and engaging entertainment programs for the public.
FOLK New England is a living repository of folk music history materials. The growing archive contains original reel-to-reel audio tapes of rare coffeehouse, concert, and hoot performances, as well as multi-format audio artist interviews and oral histories. The organization is in the process of inventorying a photograph collection including works by John Byrne Cooke, Don West, Dick Waterman, Rowland Scherman, Bob Morey, Barry Schneier, Charlie Frizzell, and many others. New donated collections of personal papers, folk journals, and ephemera related to the folk music scene are being readied for digitization and preservation. The foundational Betsy Siggins Collection documents — among other things — the important story of Club 47 and of the artists who performed in Cambridge/Boston and across New England. Recent accessions inclue digital copies of Rounder Records LPs, and a full run of the most important Boston magazine of the revival period, “Broadside”. The organization seeks and encourages deposits and donations related to the folk revival in New England as well as significant roots heritage materials that pre-date the revival and preserve the full variety of folk music from New England.
FOLK New England is actively soliciting funding to support the implementation of a state-of-the-art collection management system and the means to meet the profession’s highest preservation, storage and access standards.
FOLK New England also offers an intimate performance venue for folk and roots musicians from the United States and abroad. We prepare and travel curated photography exhibitions to cultural centers across America. We provide area elementary schools with classroom materials and in-class musicians to teach the relationships between folk musicians, their songs, and social issues; the organization’s educational arm also presents salons, lectures, and films, treating audiences to both intelligent discourse and soulful entertainment.
FOLK New England has worked in partnership with fellow cultural institutions the Cambridge Historical Society, Club Passim, Harvard’s Loeb Music Library, Rounder Records, the Putney School, the American Repertory Theatre, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the Indian Neck Folk Festival’s Archive Group, and the Cotuit Center for the Arts. FOLK New England’s work has been supported by grants from prestigious sources, including the Grammy Foundation, the ASCAP Foundation, the Cambridge Arts Council, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and by individual donors and volunteers.
“For years, I’ve hoped someone would undertake to develop a serious approach to documenting our folk heritage before we lose access to the first generation of the ‘folk revival’. FOLK New England has begun that process in earnest.”
– B I L L N O W L I N –
“FOLK New England is vital to our cultural memory.”
– J U D Y C O L L I N S –
– D O M F L E M O N S -“FOLK New England is an important gathering place for the music that defines us culturally. The photographs, recordings, interviews and artifacts tell the story of how our country’s musical and social evolution intertwine.”
– E L L I S P A U L -“Music is all about connections- connecting the musician with the listener, connecting the listener with wisps of memory, flickerings of emotion. Music doesn’t just appear from the void- it comes from somewhere, from connections between people, cultures and generations. FOLK New England is a vital part of making that connection for new generations of voices, of making available to them the building blocks from the past that they can use to fashion their own vision, make their own connections with new audiences – connecting the past to the present, and to the future.”
– T O M R U S H –
“Thank you, Folk New England! Alastair Moock’s three-part series on the role of American folk music in social change was the perfect compliment to our study of the land, history, and people of the United States. Students were able to extend their understanding of events such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Dust Bowl, while also being introduced to new content, such as the role of music in the Vietnam War protests. Alastair’s program is a history lesson and a music concert rolled into one. Students are singing as they learn and learning as they sing.”
– H A G G E R T Y S C H O O L 4TH G R A D E T E A C H E R S –