Tom Davenport

TOM DAVENPORT (FOLKSTREAMS FOUNDER/DIRECTOR) is an independent filmmaker and film distributor living in Delaplane, Virginia. He was graduated from Yale University, went to Hong Kong with a Yale program to teach English in New Asia College, and spent several years in Taiwan studying Chinese language and culture and working as a still photographer. He began his work in film with documentary filmmakers Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker in New York and made his first independent film in 1969 on the Chinese martial art of T'ai Chi. In 1970 he returned home to rural Virginia and started an independent film company ( with his wife, co-producer and designer, Mimi Davenport. They produced a series of live-action American adaptations of traditional folktales in a series called "From the Brothers Grimm" ( In the 1970s, Davenport began to collaborate Dr. Daniel Patterson who then chaired the Curriculum in Folklore at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. They produced a series of documentary films about American Traditional Culture which are now streaming on Their collaboration led to the formation of Folkstreams in 2002. Davenport received the first Archie Green Award from the American Folklore Society which recognized Folkstreams as a visionary project, started at a time when streaming films on the web was in its infancy. The Award describes as "an extraordinary democratic initiative in public folklore and education, exponentially increasing the visibility of the field, and giving grassroots communities across the U.S. access to their own traditions, folklore, and cultural history."  Davenport received a National Folk Arts Heritage Fellowship in 2021 for his work on Folkstreams. 

Mimi Davenport

MIMI DAVENPORT (FINANCIAL MANAGER, ARTISTIC DESIGNER) Mimi Davenport is a Fine Arts graduate of Cornell University. She and her husband Tom Davenport founded Davenport Films in 1971. Their collaborative work includes eleven dramatic interpretations of traditional tales for children done in the 1980s and 90s. She acted as designer and artistic director for these films, which received top awards from the American Film Festival (three blue ribbons and one red ribbon), the San Francisco, Sinking Creek, Chicago, Athens, Houston, and Atlanta Film Festivals, CINE, and the Carnegie Medal from the American Library Association for "Best Children's Film" of the year. Mimi Davenport designed the template of the original 2002 version of which lasted until 2017.

Shawn Nicholls

SHAWN NICHOLLS is the ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT to the Project Director of Folkstreams, Tom Davenport, in Delaplane, Virginia. In addition to administrative duties, she is the primary contact for filmmakers and facilitates the acquisition of films. She provides technical support during the preparation prior to the films' streaming on the Folkstreams site. She has also served as Researcher and Associate Producer on Tom Davenport's most recent film, "The Other Side of Eden: Stories of a Virginia Lynching". Shawn joined Folkstreams in September of 2006 and is a resident of Virginia.

Steve Knoblock

STEVE KNOBLOCK constructed his first website offline by learning HTML from examples in a magazine about the web in early 1995. By the fall of the same year he was operating his own website, City Gallery, an experiment in crowdsourcing humanities data on nineteenth-century gallery photographers. Starting in the early 2000‘s he developed the vision and architecture for the first dynamic version of the Folkstreams website, implementing all of its features, taking it from static web pages to a database-driven content management system with unique features. Steve became a member of the Folkstreams board, helping direct the vision and future for the technology supporting the Folkstreams mission. He continued as the lead developer for the site until 2015, when he handed over day-to-day development for a role as technical advisor. The mission is near and dear to his heart. He sees the project as an expression of technology in service of the humanities and the public.

Matthew Broerman

MATTHEW BROERMAN is an Ohio-based designer, filmmaker and media artist. In 2003 he produced and directed "This is Our Slaughterhouse", an award-winning 30-minute documentary focused on the lives and friendships formed by the workers of his family's small Midwestern slaughterhouse. Through "This is Our Slaughterhouse" he met the Folkstreams team, and in 2017 put his digital skills to use, redesigning and building the current version of Outside of Folkstreams he works as a media designer, artist, illustrator, and printmaker, and has done work for Procter & Gamble, HGTV, Microsoft, Disney, and Warner Bros.

Folkstreams Advisors

Paddy Bowman

PADDY BOWMAN is Founding Director of Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education and co-edits the Journal of Folklore and Education ( Among other publications are numerous journal articles, the anthology Through the Schoolhouse Door: Folklore, Community, Curriculum, and online education resources such as The Masters of Traditional Arts Education Guide [http://www.mastersoftraditiona...]. She developed the "Educators" Portal and the "For Family Historians" Portal for Folkstreams. She received an M.A. in Folklore from the University of North Carolina and has been honored by the American Folklore Society as a Fellow and received the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Public Folklore.

Joey Brackner

JOEY BRACKNER (COMMITTEE CHAIR) is the director of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, a department of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. As director of the Center, he oversees the Folklife project grants program, which supports efforts by Alabama organizations to present the state's folk traditions as well as the Folk Arts Apprenticeship grants program supporting master folk artists who teach. In addition to grants making, the Center conducts research in order to produce the weekly "Alabama Arts" public radio program, an ongoing series of documentary music CDs and occasional traveling exhibitions. Brackner was co-producer with Herb Smith of Appalshop of Unbroken Tradition, a film documentary on Alabama folk potter Jerry Brown. He is the author of Alabama Folk Pottery (University of Alabama Press, 2006). Starting in 2013, he has been the host of the Alabama Public Television series ”Journey Proud.“ Joey Brackner is a native of Fairfield, Alabama. He received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1977 and a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1981. He was Humanities Scholar in Residence at the Birmingham Museum of Art prior to being hired as state folklorist in 1985.

Barry Dornfeld

BARRY DORNFELD is a management consultant, documentary filmmaker, and educator. His documentary work has been shown on public television and won awards at festivals and competitions, and includes: Eatala: A Life in Klezmer, LaVaughn Robinson; Dancing History, Gandy Dancers, portraying the expressive culture and history of African-American railroad workers in the U.S. and broadcast nationally on PBS, Powerhouse for God, about singing and praying in a rural Baptist church in Virginia, and other works on American expressive culture. He received a B.A. from Tufts University and a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication, taught at New York University and chaired the Communication Department at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. He is a Principal at CFAR, a management consulting firm in Philadelphia, where he works with organizations on strategy and cultural change.

Paul Jones

PAUL JONES is Director of ibiblio, a contributor-run digital library of public-domain and creative commons media, as well as, Clinical Professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina. Jones has published poetry in many journals but also in cookbooks, in travel anthologies, in a collection about passion, in a collection about love, and in The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 - Present (Scribner). Jones was co-chair of the 2010 International World Wide Web Conference. Jones gave up using email on July 1, 2011.

Beverly B. Patterson

BEVERLY B. PATTERSON, consultant, writer and editor, holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from UNC-Chapel Hill. Former director of the North Carolina Folklife Institute and Folklife Specialist at the North Carolina Arts Council, she has served stints as co-editor for Film and Videotape Reviews for the Journal of American Folklore and consultant for films in the American Traditional Culture Series produced jointly by Tom Davenport Films and the UNC Curriculum in Folklore. She was project director and editor for the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area's online "Traditional Artist Directory." With Wayne Martin and Daniel Patterson she edited Doug and Jack Wallin: Family Songs and Stories from the North Carolina Mountains (Smithsonian Folkways CD). Her book The Sound of the Dove: Singing in Appalachian Primitive Baptist Churches was published with some of her own documentary recordings. A section editor for the Encyclopaedia of Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press), project director and editor for the Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook (UNC Press), and contributor to Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding a Place in the Circle (UNC Press), she also co-authored African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina, a project of the North Carolina Arts Council and the North Carolina Folklife Institute.

Daniel W. Patterson

DANIEL W. PATTERSON is a Kenan Professor Emeritus of English and former chair of the Curriculum in Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Fellow of the American Folklore Society. He taught courses in "British and American Folksong" and "Folklore in the South," founded the Southern Folklife Collection in the UNC library, and authored or edited articles, sound recordings, and eleven books on folklore including The True Image: Gravestone Art and the Culture of Scotch Irish Settlers in the Pennsylvania and Carolina Backcountry, The Shaker Spiritual (awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Prize), Gift Drawing and Gift Song: A Study of Two Forms of Shaker Inspiration, Sounds of the South, Diversities of Gifts, and Arts in Earnest). In 1997-98 he was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center, and he had a residency in 1999 at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center. He and his wife Beverly Patterson served as Film Review Editors for the Journal of American Folklore from 1991-1993. Between the 1970s and 2016 he collaborated with Tom Davenport on six folklife documentary films. The University of North Carolina Press in 2000 published his book A Tree Accurst: Bobby McMillon and Stories of Frankie Silver, which won the Chicago Folklore Prize and grew out of his collaboration with Tom Davenport on the video The Ballad of Frankie Silver. He and Beverly Patterson also prepared background essays for many films mounted on the Folkstreams website.

Tom Rankin

TOM RANKIN is Professor of the Practice of Art and Documentary Studies at Duke University, where he directed the M.F.A. in Experimental and Documentary Arts. For 15 years he was director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. Rankin is formerly Associate Professor of Art and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi and Chair of the Art Department at Delta State University. He is a graduate of Tufts University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Georgia State University. His books include Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta (1993), which received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Photography; Deaf Maggie Lee Sayre: Photographs of a River Life (1995); Faulkner's World: The Photographs of Martin J. Dain (1997); and Local Heroes Changing America: Indivisible (2000). He recently edited and wrote the introductory essay for the book One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia (2013). He has collaborated on documentary films and sound recordings, and his photographs have been collected and published widely, and included in numerous exhibitions. A frequent writer and lecturer on photography, culture, and the documentary tradition, he is the general editor of the "Series on Documentary Arts and Culture" with the University of North Carolina Press.

Sharon R. Sherman

SHARON R. SHERMAN is Professor Emerita of Folklore and English at the University of Oregon where she directed the Folklore Program for over twenty years. She holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University and a Master's degree in Folklore and Mythology from UCLA. Most of her published work has concentrated on the relationship between film and folklore, and perceptions about folklore as revealed by filmmakers and folklorists. Her students have produced a number of films that have had success on Oregon Public Broadcasting and elsewhere. Sherman's films have won awards internationally. Professor Sherman designs and leads video workshops and is a consultant on various arts and humanities projects. She lectures on a variety of subjects, from Oregon folklore, to analyses of ethnicity in America, interpretations of documentary films and the interrelationships between folklore and popular culture. Sherman has served on the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society and as the Film and Videotape Review Editor for the Journal of American Folklore and Western Folklore. She is a Folklore Fellow of the American Folklore Society. Sherman has produced a number of films, including Kid Shoes; Tales of the Supernatural; Passover, A Celebration; Kathleen Ware, Quiltmaker; Spirits in the Wood; Inti Raymi en Quinchuqui; and Whatever Happened to Zulay. In addition to numerous articles, she is the author of Documenting Ourselves: Film, Video, and Culture (1998), the first in-depth study of folklore films as a genre of documentary. Other books include Chainsaw Sculptor: The Art of J. Chester Armstrong (1995), a book that grew out of her video fieldwork; and Folklore/Cinema: Popular Film as Vernacular Culture (2007).

Jeff Titon

JEFF TODD TITON received his B.A. from Amherst College and his M.A. (in English) and Ph.D. (in American Studies) from the University of Minnesota, where he studied ethnomusicology with Alan Kagan, writing his dissertation on blues music. He taught folklore, American literature, and ethnomusicology, jointly appointed as a professor in the departments of English and Music at Tufts University from 1971-86, then moved to Brown University to direct the Ph.D. program in ethnomusicology until his retirement from teaching in 2013. From 1990 to 1995 he was editor of Ethnomusicology, the journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology. The author or editor of eight books, most recently the Oxford Handbook of Applied Ethnomusicology (2015), he is also a documentary photographer and filmmaker. Among his films are Powerhouse for God (with Barry Dornfeld and Tom Rankin) and Albert Collins. A Fellow of the American Folklore Society since 1998, he has served on its Executive Board. He is known as a pioneer in collaborative fieldwork based in reciprocity and friendship, for bringing applied ethnomusicology into the mainstream of ethnomusicology, and for developing an ecological approach to musical and cultural sustainability. In 2012 he issued an appeal for a sound commons for all living creatures, part of his current project to develop a sound ecology.

Allen Tullos

Allen Tullos earned a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama, an M.A. in Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of Habits of Industry and Alabama Getaway: The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie, and co-founder and senior editor of the online journal Southern Spaces ( and Professor of History at Emory University and Co-Director of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. Tullos has co-produced several documentary films with Tom Davenport and the film Tommy Bass (with Tom Rankin) and the online video series ”Poets in Place” (with Natasha Trethewey). His articles and poems have appeared in numerous publications.

Steven M. Weiss

STEVEN M. WEISS holds a B.S. degree in Audio Technology from American University and an M.A. in Information and Library Studies from the University of Michigan. He has been Curator of the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1999 and has significantly enlarged the collection and its activities. As Curator of the SFC, Steve oversees the preservation and access of over 250,000 sound recordings, 3,000 video recordings, 8 million feet of motion picture film, as well as related photographs and printed materials.

Steve Zeitlin

Steve Zeitlin received an M.A. in literature from Bucknell University and his Ph.D. in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the founding director of City Lore, an organization dedicated to the preservation of New York City's – and America's – living cultural heritage. In 2007, he received the Benjamin Botkin Award from the American Folklore Society for lifetime achievement in public folklore. Zeitlin has also co-produced a number of award winning film documentaries including The Grand Generation; Free Show Tonight on the traveling medicine shows of the l920s and 30s; and the recently completed From Mambo to Hip Hop, broadcast on public television in the fall of 2006, and winner of an Alma award in the Best Documentary category. He has documented, recorded and fallen in love with carnival pitches, children�s rhymes, family stories, subway stories, ancient cosmologies, and oral poetry traditions from around the world.

William Ferris

Dr. William R. Ferris, a widely recognized leader in southern studies, African American music and folklore, is professor of history and folklore, and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ferris, former chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities, has written or edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films.
He co-edited the massive "Encyclopedia of Southern Culture" (UNC Press,1989), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His other books include: "Ray Lum's Tales of Horses, Mules and Men" (1992), "Local Color" (1982, 1992), "Images of the South: Visits with Eudora Welty and Walker Evans" (1978), "Mississippi Black Folklore: A Research Bibliography and Discography" (1971) and "Blues from the Delta" (1970,1978, 1988).
His films include "Mississippi Blues" (1983), which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival. A nationally acclaimed expert on blues music, Ferris has produced numerous sound recordings. He hosted a weekly blues program on Mississippi Public Radio for nearly a decade. He also has published his own poetry and short stories.