Agency history, 1978-

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  • Seitel, Peter 1942-
  • Kurin, Richard 1950-
  • Rinzler, Ralph
  • Kennedy, Richard S
  • Sheehy, Daniel Edward
  • Mason, Michael Atwood
  • Murphy, Clifford R
  • Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of Folklife Programs
  • Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings
  • Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Smithsonian Directory, 1970-1999
  • Smithsonian Year, 1991-1992
  • Annals of the Smithsonian Institution, 1999
  • Smithsonian Annual Report, 2007
  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, News and Press, Smithsonian Folkways Curator & Director Daniel Sheehy Announces Retirement,, September 8, 2015
  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, News and Events, Center Announces Departure of Director Michael Atwood Mason and Appointment of Interim Director Richard Kurin,, February 5, 2021
  • SI News Release, "Clifford Murphy Named Director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage," March 10, 2023,, accessed March 13, 2023
  • The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage traces its origins from the 1967 beginning of the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, and more directly from the Office of Folklife Programs created in 1978. The unit's name was changed to the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Studies in 1992 and changed again to the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in 1999. The Center's aim is to promote the understanding and continuity of contemporary cultural heritage in the United States and abroad. In addition to producing the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the Center conducts ethnographic and cultural research; maintains a documentary archive, the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections; and offers various educational and research opportunities.
  • Ralph Rinzler served as Director, 1978-1982; followed by Peter Seitel, 1983-1988; Richard Kurin, 1989-1990 (Acting) and 1991-2007; Richard S. Kennedy, Acting Director, 2007-2009; Daniel Edward Sheehy, 2010-2013; Michael Atwood Mason, 2013-2021; Richard Kurin, Interim Director, 2021-2023; and Clifford R. Murphy, 2023- .
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of " above.

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1978
  • 1978-


  • Civilization
  • Education
  • Folk festivals
  • Folk songs
  • Ethnology
  • Museums
  • Society
  • History
  • Cultural property
  • Civilization--History
  • Museums--Educational aspects
  • Research
  • Social life and customs


United States


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00302

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