December 2010 Newsletter

This time of year the Caffè Lena History Project, an initiative with Caffè Lena to honor and document the legacy of America’s oldest continuously running folk music coffeehouse, gives thanks to all those who have helped make this project possible. Your generous donations, support, and encouragement keep this important project on course. Thank you!

Below are some highlights from our recent project news. We’re excited to share all we’ve been able to accomplish in 2010.

To ensure we can keep this great momentum going in 2011, we hope you’ll take a minute to continue your support and make a charitable year-end tax-deductible contribution today. Giving before December 31st ensures that your donation can be recognized in your 2010 tax return. Your gift will make a tremendous difference as we prepare for more exciting developments this coming year including a new book, website, and continued archival work with the Library of Congress.

Please join us in voicing your belief in the power of preserving America’s folk music heritage. Every dollar goes toward documenting Caffè Lena’s important story for future generations of music lovers.

Until our History Project website is updated (see below) and our online giving form option is reactivated, to donate we ask that you please send a check to:
Caffè Lena c/o History Project
Make your check payable to: Caffè Lena and *please write in memo line: “History Project” Mail to: PO Box 245, 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Email for any questions, additional donation and project information, and be sure to visit for upcoming programming at Caffè Lena!

Warm wishes to you this holiday season,

Jocelyn Arem
Director, Caffè Lena History Project

Preparing a publication takes time and careful planning, and we couldn’t be more grateful for your support along this process. The Caffè Lena book project continues to develop at a great pace as we work to ready content drawn from the Caffè Lena collection.

In June 2010, Grammy Award winning songwriter Bill Danoff (“Take Me Home Country Roads”, “Afternoon Delight”) and Jonathan Byrd performed to promote the Caffè Lena book project to over 200 people at a private benefit event mc’ed by Redskins sportscaster and radio host Frank Herzog. We are delighted to report that the project is reaching such a diverse audience of music appreciators.

Support from this event enabled us to continue preserving important memorabilia and stories for inclusion in the book, including interviews with Ani DiFranco, Pete Seeger, John Hammond, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Dallas Cline, Faith Petric, David Amram, Molly Scott, and Jean Redpath.

The great boon of this support also enabled the project to receive a matching grant from the New York State Council for the Humanities, to help us share these stories with wider audiences.
We’d love to keep this momentum going. On average, one hour of recorded audio requires four to six hours of work to properly index, transcribe and edit it for content. Each new interview, photograph, reel of tape, and archival artifact yields new stories to track down or new historical items to research. We are still in urgent need of funding for:

  • Interview transcription
  • Oral history and photography research
  • Project operation including office overhead and archival storage
  • Development of content for an updated Caffè Lena History Project website


With the help of our friends at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, we’ve continued to preserve rare archives in the Caffè Lena collection:

  • Thanks to recent donations of scrapbooks, photographs, recordings and programs, we’ve transported two new file boxes of archival material to be added to the Caffè Lena Collection at the American Folklife Center.
  • The Joe Alper LLC in partnership with the Caffè Lena History Project has now digitized and identified new behind-the-scenes candid images taken at the Caffè in the 1960s.
  • We’ve received a donation of over 100 reels of rare audio recordings made at Caffè Lena in the 1960s and ‘70s. The reels are rare glimpses into the recorded history of musical life at Lena’s, yet are quickly deteriorating. We have already identified a restoration studio partner and are currently in need of funding to begin working towards preserving these recordings and ensuring their survival.


We continue to seek Caffè archival materials including audio recordings, photographs, letters, posters, songbooks, recipes, programs and other memorabilia for our archival collection. To inquire about donating material or to share a story, please email:


We’re excited to report that we are working with the Grammy and ASCAP-Deems Taylor award winning design company, The Splinter Group to develop the Caffè Lena History Project website. The updated site will be a dynamic, interactive space that places the user into the world of Caffè Lena and it’s role in the history of folk music through text, music, photography, and other available archival media drawn from the Library of Congress Caffè Lena collection. Stay tuned for an announcement of our 2011 launch date.


We continue to post updates about the project and welcome you to stop by and become a fan.


Thank you for taking the time to celebrate these recent achievements with us, and for your interest, encouragement, and continued support. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and help us spread the word about this important project. Wishing you happy holidays and a joyous 2011!

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