The West Virginia Folklife Program, a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council, is dedicated to the documentation, preservation, presentation, and support of West Virginia’s vibrant cultural heritage and living traditions. West Virginia Folklife is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Folk & Traditional Arts Program. The West Virginia Folklife Program employs West Virginia’s first state folklorist to carry out this work.

Often defined as the “art of everyday life,” folklife refers to art and culture that is based in and reflective of traditional knowledge and connection to community.

Preserving West Virginia Art & Culture

The mission of the West Virginia Folklife Program is to document the diverse folklife traditions of West Virginia and advance understanding and appreciation of traditional culture through the development of public programs, publications, and other media.

West Virginia Folklife also seeks to reinforce cultural heritage and living traditions by supporting and expanding opportunities for traditional artists, performers, and tradition bearers; assisting communities and community scholars throughout the state in the development of plans and projects to strengthen their own cultural traditions; and contributing and facilitating collaboration among those individuals, organizations, colleges and universities, and state government programs engaged in folklife activities.

West Virginia Folklife Program in the Eastern Panhandle

Are you a traditional musician? Gospel singer? Bluegrass picker? Maybe your neighbor makes traditional stuffed grape leaves, the best beans and cornbread, or roti from their grandparent’s recipe. Perhaps you know of a community elder whose stories should be documented. The West Virginia Folklife Program wants to hear about local traditional artists, craftspeople, musicians, cooks, or elders.

In this first year of this program, state folklorist Emily Hilliard is conducting oral histories and fieldwork across the state in order to assess and document current folklife activity in West Virginia.

“Folklife traditions are community-based creative expressions,” Hilliard said. “Those can include traditional music and dance, foodways, material culture, faith-based expressions, occupational lore, and more.”

This folklife survey relies heavily on community input. Emily Hilliard will be in the Eastern Panhandle next week to carry out this work. If you have any tips for local traditional artists and important community traditions, contact Emily at

Visit the West Virginia Folklife Program blog.

Learn more about the West Virginia Humanities council at their website.

Connect with West Virginia Folklife on Instagram and on Facebook.


We are thrilled to share that @westvirginiafolklife has received a Henry Reed Fund Award from the American Folklife Center to produce a concert by ballad singer Phyllis Marks at @wvhumanities’ MacFarland-Hubbard House in Charleston. The concert recording will become part of @librarycongress /AFC archival holdings, adding to Marks’ 1978 recordings already in the collection. Stay tuned for details on the concert, likely to be held in the early fall, and read more about all the 2016 award recipients at: 📷: Josh & Henry Reed, ca. 1903. Henry Reed, 19, plays banjo & his older brother Josh plays fiddle. Photo from the collection of James Reed. #wvfolklife #wv #westvirginia #americanfolklifecenter #phyllismarks #ballads #oldtime

A photo posted by West Virginia Folklife Program (@westvirginiafolklife) on

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