Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Thompson, S. mss., 1911-1972, consist of the papers of Stith Thompson, 1885-1976, professor of English and folklore at Indiana University. Thompson was esteemed in scholarly circles as America's most prominent folklorist. In 1919 he earned his Ph.D.from Harvard University, where he studied under George Lyman Kittridge and wrote the dissertation "European Borrowings and Parallels in North American Indian Tales." In 1921 he joined the English faculty at IU, where he taught courses in composition as well as folklore. Thompson chaired the English Department, became dean of the graduate school, and developed the first doctoral program in folklore in the United States. In 1962 Thompson, along with Professor Richard Dorson, founded Indiana University's Folklore Institute. He went on to become the author, coauthor, or translator of numerous books and articles on folklore, perhaps best known for his work on the classification of motifs in folktales, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Biographical Materials; IV. Societies and Conferences; V. Genealogy; VI. Printed Materials; VII. Additions.

An inventory is available.

Collection size: 8,700 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.