Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289


 Current TAUNY Research Projects


TAUNY's presentations of the customs and traditions of the North Country begin with research. Our staff and a network of scholars with whom we work travel around the region to study and document ongoing cultural practices in our communities. Read about our current research projects here.


Raquette River Camps

TAUNY Executive Director Jill Breit is starting a new project this summer: documenting camps along the Raquette River and interviewing the families who love and use them. Jill is focusing on camps whose owners live in the North Country year-round. Everything from very simple hunting cabins to larger camps that accommodate generations of family and friends will be included. We'd love to hear from you with suggestions of camps to document. Contact Jill with leads or to get more information:

Instrumental Stories:

North Country Folk Instrument Making and Collecting

This project documents instrument makers and collectors throughout the region. It explores the craft of instrument-making in its many forms, from improvised, home-made instruments to the work of master craftspeople who supply many others in their communities with instruments. It also explores the contexts of the instruments’ making, use, and enjoyment. Some instruments are born of household materials and practices, and the project will examine these frameworks and how, in turn, the instruments relate to both private and public living spaces from kitchens and living rooms to restored granges and festival stages. The instruments thus reflect not only the craftsmanship that builds them, but the family and community traditions that help to shape their significance in regional life. In addition to instrument-making and the spaces and contexts in which instruments are used, the project addresses instrument collections. The region is home to a variety of music traditions, generally connected to ethnic heritage groups as well as location-based community groups. While the music-playing traditions are less active than they’ve been in the past, many people continue to play folk instruments and/or connect to family and community traditions through new and heirloom instruments. Many people in the region have such instruments--from a single old story-laden family guitar to, in one case, a seventy-fiddle collection started by a father and added to over the years by a son in a musical family. The project documents these collections and explore how regional music-playing traditions are in some cases transforming to manifest as instrument-collecting traditions.

Research Goals:


- Identify and document North Country folk instrument makers (from improvisation to mastery)

- Identify and document North Country folk instrument collections/collectors

- Identify and document smaller-scale instrument holdings (such as single keepsake items) and their stories

- Identify and document makers of related accessories (such as instrument covers and cases, spare parts)

- Examine the spatial contexts of folk instruments’ making, use, and enjoyment (such as luthiers’ studios, household settings, public music and dance venues)

- Examine the social contexts of folk instruments’ making, use, and enjoyment (such as instrument and music equipment exchange networks, jams, repair networks)

Have an instrument? Fill out a questionnaire!

Click here for the Makers questionnaire.

Click here for the Keepers and Collectors questionnaire.

Funding for this project is provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, Folk and Traditional Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Additional funding has been provided by The Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation. Dedicated to improving the quality of life for year-round residents of the Adirondack Park.

Additional support from T. Urling and Mabel Walker.

Photo: Dale Streeter of the Adirondack Playboys shows a guitar he made working with luthier Tracy Cox, 2016.

North Country Heritage Awards

This signature program of TAUNY since 1993 puts a spotlight on a diversity of traditions and customs in the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Black River Valley, 1000 Islands, St. Lawrence River Valley, and Champlain Basin. Research for this program is ongoing. The program hosts its own website.

North Country Folklore Online is a collection of educational modules about various aspects of contemporary and historical folk culture and traditional arts of northern New York State that has been created with TAUNY’s research.

Kindred Pursuits: Folk Art in the North Country

Kindred Pursuits is an online catalog of a selection of visual expressions made in the northern counties of New York since they were first settled more than two centuries ago. Researched and documented over more than 30 years, the collection represents the rich diversity of traditional cultures living here as well as the beauty and power of creative expressions of ordinary people in everyday life.

Note: All images, text and other material found in this website © 2020 TAUNY. All rights reserved.