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Folklife Fieldwork & Oral History

Folklife fieldwork and oral history are research methods used to document community voices and expressive culture. In doing so, folklorists and oral historians seek to understand people’s lived experiences through ethical interviewing and collaborative documentation.

Interested in conducting your own oral histories or folklife fieldwork?

Are you curious about how to do your own documentation with community leaders, elders, folk and traditional artists, or cultural communities in a way that is ethical, collaborative, and responsive? Contact Folklorist Emily Hilliard at or 859-985-3309 in Special Collections and Archives to discuss your project idea and schedule an oral history or collaborative ethnography workshop for yourself, campus group, or class. I am happy to assist with issues of oral history and fieldwork documentation including project development, interviewing, audio equipment, recording, transcribing, community reciprocity, presenting your documentation, and more.   

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Emily Hilliard
Berea, KY 40404


Emily Hilliard serves as the Folklorist at Berea College. Previously, Hilliard worked as the Program Director for Folk and Traditional Arts at Mid Atlantic Arts and as the West Virginia State Folklorist and Founding Director of the West Virginia Folklife Program at the West Virginia Humanities Council. She holds an M.A. in folklore from the University of North Carolina and a B.A. in English and French from the University of Michigan. Her book, Making Our Future: Visionary Folklore and Everyday Culture in Appalachia, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in November 2022, and was named a finalist for the 2022 Appalachian Studies Association and Berea College's Weatherford Award in nonfiction for books “best illuminating the challenges, personalities, and unique qualities of the Appalachian South.” She serves on the board of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum and as the Film and Video Reviews Editor for the Journal of American Folklore. Learn more about her work at