The American Folklife Center’s Archive of Folk Culture

The Archive of Folk Culture, founded at the Library in 1928 as a repository for American folk music, houses multi-format, ethnographic collections that are diverse and international, including over one million photographs, manuscripts, audio recordings, and moving images. A guide to Wisconsin recordings shows the Library’s folk music holdings recorded in Wisconsin.

Folk Songs from Wisconsin is a compilation CD of music recorded in the 1940s by Helene Stratman-Thomas, who recorded extensively in Wisconsin.

To learn more about the collecting work of Sidney Robertson Cowell, check out the The WPA California Folk Music Project created by the Library of Congress. It is a multi-format ethnographic field collection that includes sound recordings, still photographs, drawings, and written documents from a variety of European ethnic and English- and Spanish-speaking communities in Northern California.

Mills Music Library’s Wisconsin Music Archives

The Helene Stratman-Thomas Collection of Wisconsin folk music recordings is a centerpiece of the Wisconsin Music Archives, a special collection housed in the Mills Music Library of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With holdings from the 1850s to the present, the Archives contains more than 35,000 items representing all Wisconsin musical traditions. The folk and ethnic music collections range from ethnic recordings to manuscript collections. The library also has copies of all Library of Congress recordings made in Wisconsin.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

In 1956, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings issued Wolf River Songs, a compilation of lumberjack tunes recorded and annotated by Sidney Robertson Cowell. The recording prominently features Warde Ford and Robert Walker. Today, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States, can provide a CD version of that recording.


Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures

The Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, located at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is committed to the languages and cultural traditions of this region’s diverse peoples. The Center fosters research and the preservation of archival collections, while producing educational and outreach programs for a broad public audience. CSUMC also assist community groups, classrooms, and independent scholars with projects involving Upper Midwestern cultures. It is involved in reissuing traditional recordings made in the Upper Midwest.


Leary, James. The Wisconsin Patchwork: A Companion to the Radio Programs Based on the Field Recordings of Helene Stratman-Thomas. Madison, Wis.: Department of Continuing Education in the Arts, 1987.

Peters, Harry B. Folk Songs out of Wisconsin. Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1977.