Folklore Archives

 

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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 geographical/cultural area, by occupation, 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.

4. Special Collections : These were done by advanced students and scholars rather than by beginning students and they occupy three file drawers plus three small index file drawers housing the Joseph T. Hall Limerick Collection. Some highlights are this collection of over 5000 limericks; the Roger Mitchell Collection of Micronesian folktales; tapes, transcripts, field notes, and 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 2 nd Baptist Church done by young professor Henry Glassie.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Slides : At one time there were significant numbers of slides which like the cassette tapes were matched with their source projects. It is my impression that many or perhaps all of these were extracted to become part of a slide resource for teaching and research purposes that is still in progress.

8. Index Files : These are abundant but confusing in terms of method and focus; by now they might constitute an interesting study in their own right as evidence of shifting approaches to the cataloguing of folklore materials.

9. 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 but unfortunately the program that supported it was not very well suited to the task. This program was abandoned around 1990 but it may be possible to transfer the data into current formats.

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