Short Essay

A Tribute to John Vlach

In 1981, I began my Master’s degree in Museum Studies at George Washington University (GWU). I took an introductory course in American Studies with Pete Mondale, who assigned a book that would change my life: Black Culture and Black Consciousness by Larry Levine. When I asked Mondale where I could read more books like this, he introduced me to John Vlach, the new folklorist that the department had just hired. John had just written Charleston Blacksmith about Phillip Simmons, an African American blacksmith in Charleston. I was immediately sold on this professor, since my brother was a blacksmith and I had worked at a museum on Black women’s history in Washington, DC (The Bethune Museum) prior to starting my Master’s degree. And, then I learned what folklorists do.

Joanie Madden

Irish flute player, Joanie Madden is named a 2021 National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Artist Spotlight

A portrait of Jianling Yue, Chinese papercutting artist and Professor of Communication at Rensselaer Polytechni institution (RPI).