Minnesota Folk Arts Program (Philip Nusbaum) Collection, 1959-2000

Scope and Content Note

The Minnesota Folk Arts Program (Philip Nusbaum) Collection primarily includes photographic images and sound and video recordings that emerged from John Berquist's and Philip Nusbaum's documentary work during their tenures as Folk Arts Program associates at the Minnesota State Arts Board. Projects and programs represented include the Minnesota Traditional Music Series of commercial recordings, Minnesota Folk Arts radio shows, folk artist directories, the apprenticeship and folklore sponsorship programs, festival demonstrations and performances, and teaching programs.

The collection is loosely organized by media format, and each media type is arranged chronologically by project. The Minnesota State Arts Board Folk Arts Program administrative records that are housed at the Minnesota Historical Society contain correspondence, grant budgets, and contracts that relate to the folk arts apprenticeship program, folk arts sponsorship and folk arts apprenticeship grant applications, folk artist directories, and Minnesota State Fair demonstrations.

The only manuscript materials in the Minnesota Folk Arts Program (Philip Nusbaum) Collection include 55 subject files of Minnesota Folk Arts radio module scripts and related notes. The 26 4-and-a-half-minute modules of Minnesota Folk Arts aired on about a dozen Minnesota stations in approximately 1987-1988.

The large and varied collection of images documents hundreds of Minnesota traditional artistic expressions and artists including the state's National Heritage Fellows Bounxou Chanthraphone, Paul Dahlin, Christy Hengel, Maude Kegg, and Leif Melgaard, and Vesterheim Gold Medalist rosemalers Karen Jenson, Trudy Peach, and Addie Pittlekow. The 35 mm color slides are organized in three-ring binders by project and in most cases include inventories. They primarily represent participants in the folk arts apprenticeship program and, to a lesser extent, festivals ranging from the Minnesota State Fair to the Festival of Nations to the Syttende Mai celebration in Spring Grove, Minnesota.

Sound recordings include interviews and musical performances from the 1980s through the 1990s that relate chiefly to the Minnesota Folk Arts radio programs and the Minnesota Traditional Music Series of commercial recordings. Audiocassettes used to create the Minnesota Folk Arts radio modules and the Norwegian-American LP project mainly record artist interviews. John Berquist's collection includes 26 audiocassettes, mostly of Croatian and Slovenian button box field recordings from the Mesabi Range in 1984. DATs record mostly live performances from the 1998 Minnesota Folk Festival and Finn Fest. Wayne Gannaway's 1999 fieldwork recordings have corresponding photographs.

The Beta videocassette tapes are field recordings made in 1987-1988 primarily for the Minnesota Musical Traditions Series, including digital masters from the Norwegian-American, Ojibwa, and Mexican LPs. National Heritage Fellowship Award winner Christy Hengel, a German-American concertina maker from New Ulm, Minnesota, is featured on one tape. Nusbaum has characterized the recording quality as “a bit grainy.” The Beta videocassette tapes are presently unviewable as no player has yet been located that will produce a useable signal from them. The VHS tapes in the collection document a variety of performers and events.

Appendix II of this collection guide contains an index to many of the people, events, locations, and subjects that are documented in this collection. However the index is not exhaustive and undoubtedly other performers and topics are represented in this collection as well.