For over 40 years, independent audio documentary producers Davia Nelson and Nikki Silvia – The Kitchen Sisters – have chronicled the lives, celebrations and struggles of people from all walks of life, weaving together a rich tapestry of America’s cultural heritage The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution offering access to the creative record of the United States, announced it is acquiring the Kitchen Sisters’ full body of work.
The Kitchen Sister have been honored with two Peabody Awards, a duPont-Columbia Award, two James Beard Awards and more. Their sound-rich audio documentaries on overlooked histories and little-known communities include many series and collaborations heard on NPR: Hidden Kitchens – how communities come together through food; Lost & Found Sound – 20th century life and the people who shaped the sonic landscape of the nation; The Hidden World of Girls – stories of coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, women who blazed a trail. The Sonic Memorial Project, a 9/11 memorial built in sound to the World Trade Center and its surrounding neighborhood; and The Keepers – stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians and keepers of America’s complicated cultural heritage.
The Kitchen Sisters produced Lost & Found Sound, The Sonic Memorial Project, and Hidden Kitchens in collaboration with award-winning independent producer Jay Allison. Hosts of their NPR and PRX specials have included Frances McDormand, Alfre Woodard and Tina Fey, musician Willie Nelson, and filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.
Their podcast The Kitchen Sisters Present —part of the Radiotopia podcast network from PRX — amplifies the voice of people rarely chronicled. In addition, their major national collaborations have been aired nationally and internationally on NPR, PRX, the BBC, the CBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and more.
The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress, highlighting the creativity and cultural traditions of communities throughout the United States and the world, will house and preserve The Kitchen Sisters’ archive in perpetuity. It will include approximately 146,400 mixed material items from the 1970s to the present, and will also include more than 7,000 hours of interviews, oral histories, stories, field recordings and archival audio. The archive will also include photographs, production notebooks and hand-written journals.
The Kitchen Sisters Archive will reside with such notable collections and historic holdings in The Library of Congress as The Alan Lomax Collection, The Studs Terkel Collection, various recordings, plays and manuscripts of Zora Neale Hurston, The AIDS Memorial Quilt Archive, The Rosa Parks Papers, the Susan B. Anthony Papers, and The Emancipation Proclamation.
The Kitchen Sisters continue to produce radio stories, podcasts and other multimedia collaborations. They intend to donate these additional materials to The Library of Congress as well.