Ralph Rinzler papers and audio recordings, 1950-1994
Portions of this collection are digitized

Summary
Collection ID:
CFCH.RINZ
Creators:
Rinzler, Ralph
Dates:
1890-2011
bulk 1950-1994
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
106.32 Cubic feet
87.5 cubic feet of papers, 18.82 cubic feet of audio
Repository:
This collection, with bulk dates from 1950-1994, documents the life of Ralph Rinzler and his professional activities as Director of Field Programs for the Newport Folk Festival, Director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (formerly the Festival of American Folklife) and the Office of Folklife Programs (now the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage), and the Smithsonian Institution's Assistant Secretary for Public Service. Includes personal papers, business records, correspondence, notes, photographs, audiotapes and field recordings.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Ralph Rinzler Papers and Audio Recordings encompasses a wide range of materials from Rinzler's prolific personal and professional life. Predominantly consisting of clippings, collected texts, correspondence, meeting notes, photographs, and production materials, this collection charts Rinzler's role in the mid-twentieth century emergence of community-based and institutional efforts to preserve, sustain, and amplify cultural heritage. As an assemblage of materials from all aspects of his life, the Ralph Rinzler Papers also reflect the many integral relationships he developed throughout the years with his colleagues, contemporaries, family, and friends.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
The collection is currently arranged in 9 archival series as follows:
1. Biographical
2. Collected Texts
3. Correspondence
4. Events
5. Fieldwork
6. Meetings and Organizations
7. Notable Figures
8. Publishing and Production
9. Audio
The papers and photographs contained in the first 8 series are processed at an intermediate level, which means that all material was rehoused in archival folders, with folder-level arrangements and descriptions. Individual items within folders may not be fully arranged or described, due to the collection's level of complexity when it was deposited in the Archives.
When possible, folders were arranged alphabetically within series and subseries.

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Ralph Rinzler (1934-1994) was born in Passaic, New Jersey, and was interested in music at an early age. He was given a collection of ethnographic recordings from the Archive of Folk Song of the Library of Congress by his uncle, Harvard University ballad scholar George Lyman Kittredge, and they soon became his favorites. He became actively involved in the Folk Revival while attending Swarthmore College, organizing an annual festival on campus. He received his B.A. in 1956, and did graduate work at Middlebury College and the Sorbonne in French literature and language. Upon his return to the United States, he played mandolin for four years with the Greenbriar Boys, at times touring with singer Joan Baez. During the 1960s, he also studied, recorded, and worked with performers of traditional music, such as Doc Watson and Bill Monroe, both of whom gained international recognition in part through his efforts. In 1964, Rinzler accepted the position of Director of Field Programs at the Newport Folk Foundation, which involved the planning and programming of the Newport Folk Festival.
Rinzler came to the Smithsonian in 1967 as co-founder of the Festival of American Folklife (now the Smithsonian Folklife Festival) with James Morris in what was then the Smithsonian's Division of Performing Arts. After the 1976 Bicentennial Festival, Rinzler became the founding director of the Office of Folklife Programs (now the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) to establish a center for research, publication, and presentation of programs in American culture and tradition. As Director, he initiated Smithsonian Folklife Studies, a publication series, and did research for the Celebration exhibit, which opened at the Renwick Gallery in 1982. Rinzler was appointed Assistant Secretary for Public Service in 1983 and Assistant Secretary Emeritus in 1990. Ralph Rinzler died on July 2, 1994.

Administration
Processing Information
The Rinzler Papers did not arrive in the Archives with any discernible original order. For many years, a preliminary inventory was the only access point to the papers. Since August 2011, a significant amount of survey and analytical work allowed archivists to impose order across nearly all of the papers. With the resulting folder-level arrangement across each series and subseries, many of the folders are accompanied by scope and content notes.
In the spring of 2021, the collection and its accompanying finding aid were revisited and further refined.
Processing remains ongoing for oversize materials (as of May 2021).
Author
Greg Adams, Rori Smith, Stephanie Smith, Jeff Place, David Walker, Stefana Breitwieser, Jennifer Nehrt, Michelina Pagliuso, Megan Northcote, Abigail Kabaker, Kimberly Stelter, James Fort, Cathy Hardman, Cecilia Peterson, Chad Kamen
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The materials in this collection were deposited into the archives of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage over a number of years by Ralph Rinzler, Kate Rinzler, and Jeff Place in honor of the aforementioned. From the 1980s until Ralph Rinzler's passing in 1994, the Center received the majority of the audio tapes and photographs in this collection directly from Rinzler. With Rinzler's death in 1994, Jeff Place reviewed and deposited the majority of Rinzler's papers at the Center.
Until her passing in 2011, Kate Rinzler donated materials to this collection, with more continuing to arrive via her estate (as of May 2021). Many of these items were rehoused in the Kate Rinzler Papers.

Shared Stewardship
Shared Stewardship
Making this collection accessible to the public is an ongoing process, tethered to the living people and cultures its materials represent. The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage acknowledges and respects the right of artists, performers, Folklife Festival participants, community-based scholars, and knowledge-keepers to collaboratively steward representations of themselves and their intangible cultural heritage in media produced, curated, and distributed by the Center. To view the Center's full shared stewardship statement, please visit https://folklife.si.edu/archives#shared-stewardship.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Large portions of this collection are digitized, and while these materials are being prepared for public access through this finding aid, researchers can request digital copies by contacting the Rinzler Archives at rinzlerarchives@si.edu or (202) 633-7322.
Conditions Governing Use note
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for information.
Preferred Citation
Ralph Rinzler papers and audio recordings, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Folk festivals Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Folk music -- Southern States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Folk music -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Field recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Phonograph records Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Notes Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiocassettes Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographic prints Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white negatives Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Watson, Doc Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Newport Folk Festival Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Greenbriar Boys Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Festival of American Folklife Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Smithsonian Folklife Festival Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seeger, Pete, 1919-2014 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jugtown Pottery (Firm) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
UNESCO Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lomax, Alan, 1915-2002 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hawes, Bess Lomax, 1921-2009 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rinzler, Kate, 1937-2010 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sayles, Charlie Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Folkways Records Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Carter, Jimmy, 1924- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seeger, Anthony Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seeger, Mike, 1933-2009 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seeger, Toshi Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
600 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, D.C.
rinzlerarchives@si.edu
https://www.folklife.si.edu/archive/