Founded in 1984, the Vermont Folklife Center is a nationally-known folklife education organization that uses ethnography—study of cultural experience through interviewing, participation and observation—to strengthen the understanding of the cultural and social fabric of Vermont's diverse communities. The VFC's mission is to broaden, strengthen, and deepen our understanding of Vermont; to assure a repository for our collective cultural memory; and to strengthen communities by building connections among the diverse peoples of Vermont.
The realization of the Vermont Folklife Center’s organizational mission begins with fieldwork. Our team of folklorists conduct as many as 100 interviews per year, using ethnographic research methodologies that yield content for Web-based audio, radio broadcast, public presentations, documentary exhibits, and education programs and curricula, as well as building our archival collection with firsthand accounts that capture living memory and document both present and past experience.
These primary research materials and stories, as well as the resulting community partnerships are channeled into our four major areas of programmatic activity: Archive, Discovering Community Education Program, Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, and the Vision and Voice Gallery and Workspace.
Daisy Turner, born in June 1883 to ex-slaves Alexander and Sally Turner in Grafton, Vermont, embodied living history during her 104 years as a Vermonter. Her riveting style of storytelling, reminiscent of West African griots, wove the history of her family from slavery until her death in 1988 as Vermont’s oldest citizen. Vermont Folklife Center founder Jane Beck conducted extensive taped interviews with Daisy. Today you can visit the Center and listen to captivating stories told by Turner. The Vermont Folklife Center continues to research, record and present exhibits about Vermont’s people and communities, including recent immigrants and refugees from eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. (Info compiled from Vermont African-American Heritage Trail)