Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH)

Center for Folklife and Cultural HeritageCheck out the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) educational resources including tools for teaching, resources for community scholars, native culture resources, and resources related to projects being done by the CFCH.

To learn more about Diana N’Diaye’s research looking at the connections between dress, community, and identity, check out the links below:

PDF IconFirst, we would like to introduce you to some essential terms and ideas which drive Diana N’Diaye’s research. This glossary explains the key ideas: “Communities of Style”, “Artisans of Style”, and “Exemplars of Style”. By reading this brief glossary, we will begin to create a shared vocabulary for discussing and understanding dress and how it connects to community and identity.

PDF IconHere we have the research questions and methodologies which drive Diana N’Diaye’s research and the Will to Adorn Project. These are the questions that are asked by Diana N’Diaye when she first embarks on her research and the ways in which she gathers data.

PDF IconPDF IconAn essential component to Dr. N’Diaye’s research is what she calls a cultural autobiography of dress. This is a self evaluation which asks participants to probe the ways in which their clothing connects them to their communities and what is being expressed through their clothing choices. Here are some questions used to guide a cultural autobiography of dress as well as an example autobiography. Feel free to write your own cultural autobiography of dress if you would like to better understand the role your clothes play in your own self-expression and connections to community, or, if you would like to be a part of Diana N’Diaye’s research, feel free to send your autobiography to Please put “cultural autobiography of dress” in the subject line.

Another great resource for exploring the history, culture, and traditions around you are the people in your family and community. By talking to the bearers of tradition around you, you’ll gather stories, memories, and traditions which create a living history for you. This can serve to anchor us to a larger whole, connect us to the past, ground us firmly in the present, and give us a sense of identity, roots, belonging, and purpose. This interview guide includes general guidelines for gathering oral histories, a list of sample questions, ways to preserve and present your findings, a selection of further readings, a glossary of terms, and release forms should you wish to use the data you have gathered.

Dance Africa BazaarHere, we have images and descriptions of the styles found at the 2009 Dance Africa Festival and Bazaar. This festival celebrating African heritage and community has been a Memorial Day weekend tradition in New York for 32 years. It features traditional and contemporary African dance, music, art, and film events as well as an outdoor bazaar featuring 250 vendors from around the world. In these slides are the artisans and exemplars of style recorded for the Will to Adorn Project.

Still looking for more? Below are a list of links and exhibitions spanning many of the Smithsonian museums which explore dress and culture.

National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)

National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)

National Museum of American History (NMAH)

National Portrait Gallery

National Museum of African Art

National Postal Museum

Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS)

Smithsonian Encyclopedia

Smithsonian Education

Library of Congress

*Maricia Battle was the Curator of Photography, Prints and Photographs Division