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A National Preserve of Documentary Films about American Roots Cultures
streamed with essays about the traditions and filmmaking. The site includes transcriptions, study and teaching guides, suggested readings, and links to related websites.  

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 One Big Union: Ralph Fasanella
Where Do They All Go?
As a teenager, growing up in the mountains of rural northern Virginia, Jerry Payne asked "Animals are dying all the time. Where to they all go?"
Rural Life / Appalachia / 2013
42 minutes | Read More | Preview

Zampogna: The Soul of Southern Italy
Follow a young Italian-American's cultural odyessy though the depths of Italy's most remote and traditional regions, told through the story of Italian folk music.
Music / World / 2009
01 hour, 20 minutes | Read More | Preview

Queena Stovall: Life's Narrow Space

Dubbed the “Grandma Moses of Virginia,” Emma Serena Dillard “Queena” Stovall (December 20, 1888–June 27, 1980) painted scenes of people and activities in rural Virginia.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Customs, Family, Rural Life / South / 1983
06 minutes | Read More

Put Me Down Easy: The Charlie McClendon Story

The Charlie McClendon Story explores the life and career of one of Norfolk, Virginia’s most talented Rhythm & Blues and Gospel artists. Though largely unknown to the general public, Charlie and his group were stalwarts at the night clubs of Church Street, Norfolk’s vibrant African American cultural hub, as well as unnamed backup bands on countless soul music package tours and a seminal studio presence for what became known as the “Norfolk Sound” during the 1960s, before leaving soul for gospel music.

/ Middle Atlantic / 2013
29 minutes | Read More

Two Black Churches

TWO BLACK CHURCHES" is based on fieldwork Bill Ferris conducted at a church in Vicksburg, Mississippi and at a church in New Haven, Conn. Footage includes a full immersion baptism, congregation members and preachers at both churches discussing their call to the faith, and scenes from worship services at both churches. The film contrasts the two approaches to worship at each church.

Music, Religion, African American Culture / South / 1975
19 minutes | Read More


Life and lore along the legendary Hudson River with a special appearance by Pete Seeger.

Regional, Social Justice/Protest / Northeast / 1980
16 minutes | Read More | Preview

One Big Union: Ralph Fasanella

Ralph Fasanella was born on Labor Day, 1914 in New York's Little Italy neighborhood to Joe the Iceman and Ginevre the Buttonhole Maker from Bari, Italy. His rough childhood among impoverished immigrants, service in the Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War, labor union activism and committed humanitarianism are captured in his panoramic paintings of New York and, especially, of New England industrial mills and striking workers.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Work, Social Justice/Protest / Northeast / 1983
12 minutes | Read More | Preview

Mario Sanchez: Painter of Memories

Mario Sanchez is a self-taught artist. In a series of wood reliefs, hand-chiseled on cedar boards, he paints memories of his childhood in Key West, Florida, recording for posterity a distinctive part of the American scene.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Hispanic Culture / South / 1983
14 minutes | Read More | Preview

Hush Hoggies Hush: Tom Johnson's Praying Pigs

Meet Tom Johnson and his praying pigs. "Been fooling with them hogs for 35 long years," Johnson says in the film as he rocks on the porch of his modest residence near Bentonia, Mississippi. "It's just an idea that I took up. It's a play thing. And it put me into something that I didn't get out of too easy and so soon."

Religion, Rural Life, African American Culture / South / 1978
04 minutes | Read More

It's A Mean Old World

By the time "It's A Mean Old World" was filmed, Reverend Pearly Brown had been struggling to survive singing gospel music for nearly 40 years. While the rough sound of his bottleneck playing has the feel of a life spent scuffling on the street, the poignancy of his voice is a better measure of the gentle spirit and inner strength of the man.

Music, Religion, Aging, African American Culture / South / 1977
29 minutes | Read More

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