My name is Douglas Turner Day IV. I am an oral historian, a folk musician, and a life-long student of American folklife and folklore, with deep family roots in Virginia and Maryland.
For over 20 years I’ve been a professional folklorist, with an M.A. from the University of North Carolina, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Folklore and Folklife. For most of my career I have worked for non-profit cultural organizations, almost always with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and its state and regional partners. (See Links page.)
I’ve done folklore fieldwork (community histories, oral histories and cultural surveys) in Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi.
Ever since my first musical gig at the legendary Prism Coffeehouse at the age of 14, I have been making music on six- and 12-string guitars in a style rooted in the fingerstyle country blues of the Piedmont region where I grew up. That’s somewhere over 40 years, now. As a teen, I met and learned from Piedmont songster, John Jackson. Later, as an undergraduate, I studied with the blind gospel singer/guitarist, Daniel Womack, and Piedmont songsters, Turner and Marvin Fodrell. (See Music for more.)
I was conducting fieldwork in the South Carolina “up country,” and about to start a long-term project with the state arts council in Columbia, when I was hired to be the executive director of the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. As a public historian, I used my training and experience as a folklorist to broaden the base of support for the Society, to open doors, and to embrace new technologies and media. I revitalized the Society’s moribund oral history collection by embarking on a partnership with the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. With the help of scores of trained volunteers, we collected over 100 interviews from local veterans or from veterans who had recently moved to Albemarle County or Charlottesville.
Since retiring from the “Hysterical Society,” I have continued to work as a trainer, workshop leader, and interviewer for the Veterans History Project. (See Oral History Services.)
I continue to work on a contract basis as an independant oral historian, folklorist, and musician. There is no mandatory retirement age for these endeavors, and I see no reason to ever stop doing what I have always loved to do.