Things to Do

Get Your Halloween Photos in the Library of Congress Archives

The library is collecting pictures for its American Folklife Center.
The Library of Congress wants to see how you celebrate Halloween. Image via Shutterstock.

While for people of a certain age, Halloween has become an excuse to wear 40 percent less clothing than usual, October 31 involves plenty of other rich cultural traditions. And the Library of Congress wants to document them: Starting Wednesday, the library’s American Folklife Center is seeking photographs of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos celebrations around America to include in a new collection that illustrates “contemporary folklife.”

What to do: Between now and November 5, photograph yourself and your friends/family trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, decorating your house with those impossible-not-to-get-tangled-in fake spiderwebs—pretty much any activity that shows how you celebrate the holiday—and upload it to Flickr under a Creative Commons license using the tag #FolklifeHalloween2014. AFC will comb through the submissions and archive its favorites; a selection will also be shared on the Folklife Today blog starting in November.

To up your photos’ chance of being chosen, keep in mind that the photos should show both how you celebrate Halloween and what makes the celebration special—the haunted house you set up in your front yard, the pan de muertos that’s become an annual family project. (As AFC’s Stephen Winick wrote in a blog post explaining the rules, “Photos of a festive meal are good, but photos of a festive meal with a distinctive holiday centerpiece are better.”) And because the goal is to highlight contemporary celebrations, keep the photos current.

Here are the full rules for submission via AFC:

  • Title: Give your photo a title.
  • Short Description including photographer and location: Include a brief description. What is significant about the image? Where was it taken? Who is the photographer?
  • License: For potential inclusion in the collection, please license the photo under a creative commons license.

This is a good chance to show off your photography skills and maybe be a part of the annals of history. At the very least, it’ll get more eyeballs on that homemade Hazmat costume you worked so hard on.

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