Folklore Archives






Richard Bauman

Richard Dorson

& Inta Carpenter

Henry Glassie


The Indiana University Folklore Archives has two major holdings: student papers containing field collections made by generations of IU folklore students dating from the 1940s to the present; and the professional papers of prominent folklorists and ethnomusicologists whose careers are tied to IU.  In addition, the IU Folklore Archives holds papers associated with the Folklore Institute, the Folklore Department, and the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, as well as special collections and other resources.


Professional Papers

17 Collections, 144 linear feet 

This collection is the product of an initiative to collect the research and teaching files of prominent folklorists who received their professional degrees from IU or whose teaching careers transpired here.  Included are the papers of many scholars who shaped the growth of folklore studies and ethnomusicology in the United States, such as Richard Bauman, Dan Ben-Amos, Mary Ellen Brown, Linda Degh, Richard Dorson, Henry Glassie, George List, Elliott Oring, Warren Roberts, and Stith Thompson.


Ethnographic Collections 

Student Ethnography Papers

1947-Present, app. 9,300 Papers

This collection contains fieldwork papers written primarily by undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Indiana University folklore classes. The IU student papers begin in the 1960s and focus on numerous topics including beliefs and customs, folk music and song, jokes and limericks, legends, material culture, and proverbs. There is also a smaller collection of fieldwork papers written by folklore students at Michigan State University who were enrolled in Prof. Richard Dorson’s classes in the period from 1947 to the end of 1956.

1. The Michigan State University Folklore Collection: This is the oldest portion of the archive, student manuscripts dating from 1947 to 1956. It fills eight file drawers, and the items are labeled by occupation, geographical/cultural area, or by genre. There is an index and these materials are described, as well, in an article published by Dorson in 1955. The topics listed include folktale material (belief tales among civilians during WWII, tall tales, college folklore); poetry and ballads (186 versions of 83 classic ballads); jokes and anecdotes; occupational and sports lore; songs of the GI, of children, of high school, of college.

2. The Pre-1967 IU Collection: Fills three file drawers and is organized by genre rather than collector. Consists of both manuscripts and file cards. Materials were collected mostly in Indiana but also in Ohio and Kentucky.

3. Post-1967 Student Manuscripts: Starting in 1967 the student projects are kept intact and filed under the collector's name. This is the largest component in the holdings, with accessioned materials filling nineteen file drawers and unaccessioned materials filling another dozen. All collections through 1983 are accessioned, but some of the collections acquired during the late-1980s have not been accessioned. Within this segment of the archive, there are sub-groupings for topics such as material culture, legends, Halloween, and calendrical festivals. There are cassette tapes, photos, and slides associated with many of these collections.

Special Collections

These were done by advanced students and scholars rather than by beginning students. They occupy three file drawers plus three small index file drawers housing the Joseph T. Hall Limerick Collection of over 5000 limericks. Other highlights in this collection are:

  • The Roger Mitchell Collection of Micronesian folktales
  • Elli Kongas-Maranda collection of Finnish Folklore
  • Tapes, transcripts, field notes
  • Video footage of several projects sponsored by federal and state agencies, including ethnographic films, international symposia, and research on the Festival of American Folklife on the mall in Washington, D.C.
  • Materials associated with four of Richard Dorson's books
  • Graduate student projects done by several people who went on to become famous folklorists
  • A study of Bloomington's 2nd Baptist Church done by young professor Henry Glassie


Department Papers

19 collections, 77 linear feet


Included in this collection are:

1. Records documenting the development of folklore studies and ethnomusicology at IU, with papers from the various institutional units that have thrived at IU over the years—the Folklore Institute, the Department of Folklore, and the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology—as well as papers from the Folklore Student Association and the Ethnomusicology Student Association.

2. It also includes the editorial files and publications of the Journal of Folklore Research, the Folklore Forum, the Folklore Monograph Series, and Special Publications of the Folklore Institute.

3. Finally, the collection contains files documenting 12 Folklore Department Projects, including the Handbook of American Folklore Project, the Indiana Folklore Project, the Smithsonian FAF Project and the Gary Project.


Colloquium 1993
Stith Thompson



Assorted Media and Resources 


Printed Materials: There are reprints of articles, photocopies of newspaper articles, newletters and journals, and the standard reference books used by folklorists to catalogue their materials.

Cassette Tapes: There are hundreds of cassette tapes, many of them (but not all) matched to their student projects. Some of these recordings feature interviews and performances of real value.

Slides: There are a significant number of slides, which, like the many cassette tapes on hand at the Folklore Archives, were originally part of source projects. We are in the process of reconnecting these resources with their source projects. 

Index Files: These are abundant and diverse in terms of method and focus; these “legacy files” constitute an important study in their own right as evidence of shifting approaches to the cataloguing of folklore materials.

Computer Project: Evidence can be found of an ambitious project to computerize the index of the Folklore Archives in the mid-1980s. The project did advance though unfortunately the program that supported it was not very well suited to the task. That program was abandoned around 1990.


Aija Beldavs

Since then, we have renewed our efforts to electronically index archived papers.  Folklorist Aija Beldavs (1941-2009) made outstanding progress indexing the Student Paper Collection. Thanks to this work, decades of student papers are now accessible via an Access database.


Aija also provided valuable feedback on the instruments for classifying and indexing these materials; many of her suggested modifications in genre terminology have been incorporated into the Ethnographic Thesaurus, the definitive international protocol for organizing materials gathered from cultural performances.     








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