The Down Jersey Folklife Center

The Down Jersey Folklife Center at Wheaton Village, 1501 Glasstown Road in Millville, is a regionally significant resource for any investigation into traditional arts and culture. At the Down Jersey Folklife Center, a major component of their research involves talking with people about their interests and what they do. Exhibits, craft demonstrations, classes, music, story telling, and dance are all regular programs offered at the Center. They offer a variety of programs and have an extensive library of archive resources that directly relate to the region Down Jersey. It is highly recommended that any teacher who wishes to find out more should contact Iveta Todorova-Pirgova, Director of the Down Jersey Folklife Center, at (856) 825-6800, Ext. 2787.


To research and document traditional arts and culture in New Jersey’s southern eight counties. The center will present ongoing programs based on this research for a wide variety of audiences drawn from the same area.


  • To identify and research folklife and folk art resources in Southern New Jersey as an ongoing project.
  • To create a folklife archive for housing researched and documented activities and events, as well as material examples of southern New Jersey folklife.
  • To provide educational programs both at the center and other locations that result from planning participation by regional traditional artists, folklorists and other area residents.

Through the use of exhibitions, demonstrations and recorded material, visitors learn more about southern New Jersey’s rich cultural heritage and traditions. Traditions include many things that people know and pass on to family members, friends, neighbors and other members of their community.

Southern New Jersey is diverse. Native Americans and other ethnic groups, such as the Swedes, Italians and Japanese, have shaped the area’s living culture along the shore and the marshes, in the Pinelands, and in the farms and towns. Their traditions range from boat building and trapping to the delicate art of “origami.”

The Center works in collaboration with area artists so that programs highlighting various cultural groups can be presented to other community members. Such programs include concerts, exhibits, demonstrations, and “folk-artists-in-the-schools” residencies. The primary goal is to foster awareness and appreciation of the different traditions and cultural backgrounds of people living in southern New Jersey.

The center works in cooperation with Appel Farm Arts and Music Center. The Center is supported in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Contact Iveta Todorova-Pirgova, Down Jersey Folklife Center Director, with any information about South Jersey traditions, including folk music, oral histories, photographs or written records, at 609-825-6800, Ext. 2787 or Ext. 2777.

Archive Resources

The following materials in our archive are available for research or to aid teachers and students in preparing for and conducting folklife-in-education residencies.

Printed Resources: More than 200 books, periodicals, pamphlets, brochures, and unpublished manuscripts about folklore and tradition with an emphasis on South Jersey. Books include over 40 anthologies and collections of folk tales, legends, and songs from around the world. South Jersey titles include Shipwrecks and Legends ’Round Cape May, Cape May Ghost Stories, and The Jersey Devil.

Audio Cassette Tapes: More than 300 tapes of musical performances and field interviews with an emphasis on traditional artists and musicians living in South Jersey. The music tapes include performances at the annual New Jersey Folk Festival in New Brunswick that date back as far as 1978, and recordings of “Down Jersey” shows hosted by Jim Albertson mainly at Wheaton Village and Cold Spring Village. Field interviews include information about regional traditions such as farming, hunting, trapping, boat-building, basket-making, and chair-making, to mention a few topics.

Videotapes: More than 30 musical performances, interviews, and documentary programs with an emphasis on traditional artists and musicians living in South Jersey. Titles include: Schooners on the [Delaware] Bay, Down Jersey Fall Concert [1991] hosted by Jim Albertson, Bottle Hill Boys Halloween Reunion, Old Swedes Church on the Racoon, Farming Garden State Style, Tom Brown’s Museum, and Sheep Shearing at Burcham Farm, as well as three tapes donated by the Seabrook Educational and Cultural Center. Field videotapes include highlights of the opening of the Down Jersey Folklife Center at Wheaton Village (June 24-25, 1995) and the July 1995 Obon Festival at the Seabrook Buddhist Temple.

Photographs and Slides: More than 1,000 images documenting traditional activities and programs, with a focus on research and presentations sponsored by the Down Jersey Folklife Center at Wheaton Village.

Material Objects: Items donated or on long-term loan to the Down Jersey Folklife Center include baskets, chairs, origami, needlework, and miniature scenes made by traditional artists from South Jersey.