William Ferris is the keeper of Southern folklife. Born in Vicksburg, Miss. in 1942 and inspired by the people in his rural farm community, Ferris' dedicated documentation of the American South has led to a 3-CD box set of his recordings, Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris, which has been nominated for a two Grammy Awards in the categories of best historical album and best album notes.
Ferris is former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and is currently a professor at The University of North Carolina teaching Southern folklore, music and literature. According to him, the university has the largest archive on the South, including all of his collection.