With the 1978 Festival, the Smithsonian began a five-year cycle of variations on the theme of "community," exploring folklore as the artistic expression of community life, and the pleasure and dignity found in that process. When the Smithsonian Folklife Program staff decided to use "community" as the theme of the 1978 presentation, they were not grafting an idea onto the Festival, but featuring an aspect of the Festival that had been present throughout its history. Folklore consists of the traditional ways in which community people work and play together, and their customary forms of entertaining and instructing each other. Community is composed of people meeting regularly who have inherited or developed ways of celebrating their sense of coming together.
"Community" had been involved in the past eleven festivals in many ways. For communities - whether inherited or joined - serve as a vital buffer between individuals and a world of megastates and megacorporations. They are more manageable units in which all can participate - men and women, young and old - and give some living proof of Schumacher's notion that "small is beautiful." Festival organizers sought to reaffirm that humans are important, and that we are, like plants and other animals, dependent upon communities for survival.
As with the preceding year, the 1978 Festival (October 4-9) was held on a site on the National Mall later to be occupied by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, between 14th and 15th Streets and between Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive (see site plan
). Indoor activities took place in the National Museum of History and Technology, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Renwick Gallery. The San Juan Pueblo programs took place outside of the National Museum of Natural History. As had been the case in 1977, Festival programming in the museums sought to connect objects on exhibit with people who could demonstrate, explain, or comment upon them; programming was again marked by collaboration between Folklife Program staff and museum curators. Festival programs included:
- Chesapeake Bay Traditions
- Children's Folklife
- Coal Miners & Oil Workers
- D.C. Folklore
- Folklife in the Museum: A Nation of Nations (including presentations on Ellis Island, Dunham School, family folklore, sleeping car porters, and a wheelwright)
- Folklife in the Museum: Renwick Gallery (featuring presentations on Mexican masks and on musical instruments)
- Mexican & Mexican American Traditions
- Other Programs (featuring organ-building in the Hall of Musical Instruments and sharecroppers in the Hall of Everyday Life in the American Past)
- San Juan Pueblo Culture
The 1978 Program Book
provided information on each of the programs, including a schedule and participant lists.
The 1978 Festival was again co-presented by the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, McDonald's Washington Area Family Restaurants, and the Music Performance Trust Funds. It was organized by the Folklife Program within the Office of American and Folklife Studies.
Folklife Advisory Council
Wilcomb E. Washburn, Chairman, Roger Abrahams, Richard Ahlborn, Richard Dorson, William Fitzhugh, Lloyd Herman, Robert Laughlin, Scott Odell, Bernice Reagon, Ralph Rinzler, E. Richard Sorenson
Folklife Program, Office of American and Folklife Studies
Ralph Rinzler, Director; Jeffrey LaRiche, Program Coordinator; Peter Seitel, Senior Folklorist; Thomas Vennum, Jr., Ethnomusicologist; Susan Kalcik, Folklorist; Steve Zeitlin, Folklorist; Jack Santino, Folklorist; Frank Proschan and Richard Derbyshire, Archivists
National Park Service
William J. Whelan, Director; Manus J. Fish, Jr., Regional Director, National Capital Region
Fieldworkers and presenters
Héctor Aguíñiga, Holly Baker, Karen Baldwin, Charles Camp, Susan G. Davis, Hazel Dickens, Jason Dotson, Ben Evans, Alicia González, Richard Haefer, Charlotte Heth, Marjorie Hunt, Amy Kotkin, Maria La Vigna, Phyllis May, Pat Mullen, Salvador Ortega, Keith Rollinson, Daniel Sheehy, Nick Spitzer, Peggy Yocom, Jean Alexander, Kate Rinzler, George McDaniels