Doc Rowe - Archive and Collection
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The Collection

 Lewes Bonfire Night
 Padstow May Day
 Bampton 1981
 Hunting the Earl of Rone
 Burry Man, South Queensferry
 Barwick Maypole, 2005

Also in this section
Also in this section:

Detailed description of material in the collection
Seasonal events covered by the collection

The need for a centre to illustrate living tradition

No funds or facilities have existed in England specifically for research into our native traditions. Apart from a few folk-life museums featuring rural crafts and material objects, there has never been a centre that exhibits or celebrates our living traditions. Most research and collecting have been accomplished informally by individuals who have mainly been unsupported financially.

Doc Rowe’s collection: promoting vernacular tradition into the 21st century

One of these individuals is Doc Rowe. Since the sixties he has been recording and filming cultural tradition and vernacular arts, folklore, song and dance of Britain and Ireland. His collection currently represents the most extensive collection of audio and video material to celebrate the variety and richness of traditional folk culture of these islands. It concentrates on the continuing development of a living culture, rather than solely on interpretation or exploration of the past. His work is foremost a celebration of vernacular and participatory arts: those generally unknown, overlooked or treated trivially. Enabling and stimulating interest in a truly popular culture - in an accessible and entertaining way - should assist that culture to develop, expand and establish its relevance in the 21st century.

Tradition preserved and promoted by technology

By harnessing the genius of twentieth century technology, an extensively indexed archive with public access will allow us not only to expand our knowledge and understanding of our traditional cultural heritage in the historical and contemporary context, but it will encourage further work into folk life, culture and tradition.

A permanent archive

The beginning of the 21st century is a very appropriate time to create a permanent archive, particularly as it follows a century with vast technological upheaval, which has done so much to fragment and dislocate the culture that we are considering. By collecting and making available archive material for education, research and instruction, we can stimulate the 'folk mode of expression' and develop interest in local tradition generally.

The contents of the collections

Currently housed in Whitby, the collection contains:

  • audio and video recordings (with related documentation and transcripts); photographs and transparencies (both archival and contemporary);
  • written and printed material (photocopies or published volumes);
  • field notes;
  • correspondence;
  • artefacts and posters;
  • newspaper cuttings.

In addition there are exhibition and display material, ephemera and material objects. The extensive assortment of cuttings and ephemera from the early 20th century illustrates aspects of domestic and political life and mass entertainment.

More information about the collection

See here for a detailed list of types and forms of the material held.

For information on the seasonal events illustrated by the collection, see here.

For the Doc Rowe Collection Support Group, see the Contact page.

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This page last updated 24 May, 2012

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