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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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 Remembering Emmanuel Church
Bessie Eldreth

Bessie Eldreth (1913-2016) was fond of saying, “Singing is my life,” and she told engaging stories not only about her singing but also about the rewards and challenges she encountered as a woman growing up and raising a family in Ashe and Watauga counties in the northwest mountainous corner of North Carolina.

Customs, Narrative & Verbal Arts, Women, Regional, Rural Life / Appalachia / 1996
28 minutes | Read More

Covered Bridges

This film examines the vernacular architecture of Indiana’s many covered bridges, including their use as a key symbol of local identity. Available for instructional use.

Regional / Midwest / 1998
11 minutes | Read More


This film documents three key dimensions of limestone in the Midwest; the cutting, the carving and the production of limestone gravestones. Also considered are the ancillary traditions such as the use of abandoned quarry pits as local swimming holes. Available for instructional use.

Customs, Religion, Regional, Arts, Visionary and Outsider / Midwest / 1998
28 minutes | Read More

Morel Mushrooms

This film explores the secretive traditions surrounding morel mushroom hunting, including legends, search strategies, tall tales, festivals, superstitions and family recipes. Available for instructional use.

Customs, Foodways, Agriculture, Regional / Midwest / 1998
17 minutes | Read More


This film explores the deep tradition of quilting in the U.S. with a focus on contemporary quilting. In doing so, the film considers both the tension between conservatism and dynamic change in quilt design, cloth, type of stitch, and function, as well as the shifting social functions of this folk art form that balances utility with beauty. Available for instructional use.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Customs, Women, Family, Festivals/Customs, Aging / Midwest / 1998
26 minutes | Read More


This film explores the tradition of African American stepping, primarily among college men and women. Dance forms, chants, songs and social functions of this tradition serve as the focus of this film. Available for instructional use.

Dance, Festivals/Customs, African American Culture / Midwest / 1998
16 minutes | Read More


This film examines the card game euchre, played with gusto throughout the Midwest. Focus is on the informal traditions surrounding the game including hand gestures, jargon, taunts and chants, as well as the variation in rules of play among a wide variety of players. Available for instructional use.

Arts & Crafts, Traditional, Customs, Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Family, Play, Regional, Rural Life / Midwest / 1998
12 minutes | Read More

The Fiddlers of James Bay

This National Film Board of Canada documentary traces the history of the fiddle’s arrival in Canada 300 years ago via Scottish traders from Orkney Island.

Ethnic & Immigrant Cultures, Music, Native American, Canada / Canada / 1980
28 minutes | Read More

Shady Grove Camp Ground

Documentary producer and filmmaker Stan Woodward has devoted approximately seven years and filmed over 170 hours on five Lowcountry campgrounds

/ South / 2007
11 minutes | Read More

Lord Have Mercy: Olger's Store

Colorful documentary about Jimmy Olger, proprietor of Olger's Store and Museum in Virginia.

/ South / 1998
35 minutes | Read More

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