The origins of the Folklore Archives lie in materials assembled initially by Richard M. Dorson at Michigan State in East Lansing, brought to Bloomington in 1957 when Dorson arrived to take over leadership of the Folklore Institute. As he set about converting the Folklore Institute into a full-fledged academic department, Dorson placed the Folklore Archives at the center of the operation.
Throughout the 1960s, an outstanding crop of graduate students were required or encouraged to deposit field materials collected for their seminars in the Folklore Archives. Many of these students inaugurated highly successful careers in the academy and in public agencies. These names comprise a veritable who's-who of late-20th century folklorists, including Richard Bauman, Dan Ben-Amos, Simon Bronner, Mellonee Burnim, Sandra Dolby, Alan Dundes, Hasan El-Shamy, Robert Georges, E.D. Ives, John Johnson, Michael Owen Jones, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Elli Kongas, W.L. Montell, Elliott Oring, Richard Reuss, Neil Rosenberg, Ronald Smith, John Vlach, William Wilson, and many others. Later, during the 1970s and 1980s, the bulk of papers coming into the Folklore Archives were coming from undergraduate students in the large introductory folklore classes.
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