March 26, 2015 1:00 p.m.
The Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown Alumni Association, and Buckley Selection Committee are honored to announce Dr. Peggy A. Bulger as the 2015 Bruce Buckley Scholar. Peggy Bulger will speak on April 16 at the Fenimore Art Museum Auditorium at 7:30 PM. Bulger, a resident of Fernandina Beach, Florida, will discuss her extraordinary career in folklore. Her lecture, entitled Florida Folklife: Searching for Authenticity in the Land of Disney, focuses on field experiences from her work as a folklorist in Florida.
A native of Albany, New York, Bulger was inspired by the various musical folk traditions that surrounded her in upstate New York — including the music of Pete Seeger, Larry Older and Sarah Cleveland. . After graduating from The Milne School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from SUNY Albany in 1972. Upon graduation, Bulger pursued a master’s degree in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University, which she completed in 1975. Bulger then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. Her dissertation, Stetson Kennedy: Applied Folklore and Cultural Advocacy, focused on Florida folklorist, author, and activist Stetson Kennedy. Her working relationship for over 35 years with Kennedy, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and exposed many of their secrets, defined for Bulger the enormous power of folklore.
Bulger started her career in her adopted home of Florida as the State Folk Arts Coordinator in 1975, and soon after became administrator of the Florida Folklife Program from 1976 to 1989. Her expertise as Florida’s first state folklorist enabled Bulger to create the Florida Folklife Collection, housed at the State Archives of Florida. This collection is now available online to the public at www.floridamemory.com/collections/folklife
Peggy A. Bulger was a pioneering state folklorist in Florida and created apprenticeship programs, educational videos, publications, workshops, and exhibits for Florida, before leaving to work as the Folk Arts Director and Senior Program Officer for the Southern Arts Federation in Atlanta in 1989. In 1999, she was named Director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. She served in this position until her retirement in December of 2011. At the Library of Congress, Bulger was responsible for tripling the size of the ethnographic collections to over 5 million items, including the Alan Lomax Collection, which is the largest, unparalleled, collection of folklife documentation in America.
Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Bulger is an author, editor, and producer of several books, television documentaries and musical productions. She currently serves on the Florida Folklife Council, a position that is appointed by the Secretary of State, and she is President of the Florida Folklore Society. Bulger is a past president of the American Folklore Society and is recipient of the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for excellence in the field of Public Folklore.