The West Virginia Folklife Program, a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council, works to document, sustain, present, and support 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 employed West Virginia’s first state folklorist and founding director Emily Hilliard to carry out this work from 2015 to 2021. Ethnomusicologist and folklorist Jennie Williams joined the council staff in 2022 and presently serves as the state folklorist and current director of West Virginia Folklife.
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.
West Virginia Folklife projects include:
- Documentation of traditional artists, tradition bearers, and cultural communities for the West Virginia Folklife Program Collection, housed at WVU Libraries
- The West Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, offering a stipend to West Virginia master traditional artists/practitioners working with newer practitioners to facilitate the transmission of their respective forms and traditions
- The Legends & Lore Roadside Marker Program, a partnership with The William G. Pomeroy Foundation, commemorating folklore and cultural heritage across the Mountain State
- Public interest meetings, classes, concerts, and oral history workshops in communities across the state
- Toll-free West Virginia Folklife Hotline 1(844)618-3747 where the public can share tips on community traditions
- Publication and media about our work, including a regular column in Goldenseal magazine and a partnership with West Virginia Public Broadcasting