The conflict between the anthropological folklorists and the literary folklorists came to the fore in the 1890s. At issue was the International Folk-Lore Congress, planned and organized by Fletcher S. Bassett, to be held in the Department of Literature of the 1893 World’s Fair Auxiliary of the Columbian Exposition (McNeil 1980, 452; Congresses at the Columbian Exposition 1892, 247-48). The objections raised by William Wells Newell and Franz Boas stated explicitly that the scientific credibility of folklore studies would be threatened by this association with literature. This dispute between Bassett, as representative of the Chicago Folk-Lore Society, and Boas and Newell, as representatives of the American Folklore Society, was stilled in 1893. Yet the voices of dissension, those of the literary folklorists and the anthropological folklorists, resounded throughout the twentieth century. The two clashed on many fronts—within the American Folklore Society, in theoretical debates, and over the affiliation of folklore studies, be it with anthropology, with literature, or as an independent discipline. Here the concern is with the latter—the affiliation of folklore studies—and how Bassett, and Newell and Boas struggled to situate folklore studies in what they viewed to be the correct intellectual domain.
The Chicago Folklore Society was established, under the guidance of Fletcher S. Bassett (1847-1893), a retired naval officer, in December 1891, “for the purpose of collecting, preserving, studying and publishing traditional literature” (Bassett 1973, 5; see also Dorson 1973c, 182-84; McNeil 1985). While literary in their approach, the society represented their goals symbolically through the seal of Akaninili, the meal sprinkler of the Navajo Indians who was sent out as courier during the ceremonies of the Mountain Chant (Vance 1893, 594; Bassett 1973, 6). The motto of the society encircled this figure, “Whence these legends and traditions?”
The society emphasized gathering folklore, specifically the folklore “west of the Alleghenies.” The Chicago Folklore Society was to provide a forum for regional folklore research (McNeil 1980, 445). The Folk-Lorist, journal of the Chicago Folk-Lore Society, did not, however, reflect this regional orientation. Articles were included that covered a wide range, both geographically and topically, such as Mrs. M. French Sheldon’s “African Folk-Lore,” Martha F. Seselberg’s “Amazonian Beliefs, Traditions and Superstitions,” Rev. W. E. Griffis’s “Japan, Tar Baby,” and Helen M. Wheeler’s “Penobscot Idea of the Origin of Maize.” Regional folklore was limited to Wheeler’s and Bassett’s article entitled “Illinois Folk-Lore.” Had the Chicago Folk-Lore Society and The Folk-Lorist endured longer (it lasted from 1892 until 1893), it is possible that the regional emphasis would have become apparent.
In his work with both the Chicago Folk-Lore Society and the International Folk-Lore Congress, Bassett was attempting to counter the sway of the anthropological folklorists and to lay the foundation for an independent discipline of folklore (McNeil 1980, 445; 1985, 7; Bassett 1898, 18; 1973, 5). Bassett had full hopes “that colleges and universities, which foster other branches of Science and literature,” would follow the example set in Helsingfors, where Kaarle Krohn was professor of folklore.
Bassett saw great potential in the study of folklore. According to him, it had the power of correcting and organizing the differing approaches to the study of man. As he stated, “Into this chaos of widely-differing conclusions about the habits of action, thought, and feelings of man, came the new science Folk-Lore, to correct by the data of experimental comparison, these erroneous ideas” (Bassett 1898, 18). Though Bassett did not explain what comprised “the data of experimental comparison,” in his work, Sea Phantoms: Or Legends and Superstitions of Sea and of Sailors (1892b), the comparative element was present in the collection of legends and superstitions concerning the sea from literary works, diaries and ship’s logs, and from customs recorded about people “in all lands and at all times.”
Bassett eschewed adherence to a single theoretical orientation. As he said, “In attempting to solve the many problems presented in the various parts of [Sea Phantoms], I have endeavored to avoid a bias toward any theories” (Bassett 1892b, 6). The maritime superstitions were “the results of widely differing causes,” and thus no single explanation would suffice. Though Bassett acknowledged that “most myths of antiquity originated from speculations about natural phenomena,” still there were other influences on modern superstitions that needed recognition. The reference to the origin of myths and superstitions from the forces of nature was an acknowledgment of the nature allegorical approach, a popular orientation to the study of folklore in the nineteenth century.1 Bassett was also restrained in reference to the cultural evolutionary approach. “Folk-Lore,” he said, “is not merely a study of the survival of decay.” Rather than using a single theory, or expecting to find a single truth, Bassett saw in folklore “the demonstrator of the possible and probable in history, the repository of historical truths otherwise lost, the preserver of the literature of the people and the touchstone of many of the sciences” (Bassett 1898, 18-19). In other words, for Bassett, folklore preserved the past, not just as a remnant or a survival, but as a body of history and of literature.
Agreeing with Sir Laurence Gomme, Bassett viewed folklore as useful to many disciplines, to the study of geology, botany, literature, history, and mythology (Bassett (1898, 18). But this very interdisciplinary element posed a threat to folklore. As Bassett said, there were “those zealous scholars who claim that Folk-Lore is but a part of some other science,” that it forms “only a proper dependency of some other kingdom of thought” (Bassett 1898, 21). Folklore might draw from other fields, Bassett cautioned, but it was unique since “it differs from them all” (Bassett 1898, 22). He quoted “one of the greatest authorities,” whom he unfortunately did not name, as advocating “a Folk-Lore Section of the British Association; ‘I think the time has come for this. Anthropology has long since been recognized there; Folk-Lore should also, now be recognized, and independently’ ” Bassett envisioned folklore as independent of, and intermediate between, literature and science: “As literature itself is a science correllated [sic] to others, Folk-Lore is at once a part of literature and of science, but ought to be preserved apart from any other study, and not merged into or made a portion of any other science” (Bassett 1898, 22).
Encompassing in his embrace, Bassett invited all who were interested in folklore to join the Chicago Folk-Lore Society. As Wayland Hand remarked, “Every level of Chicago life was represented in the membership: industrial and business, intellectual and religious, military and naval, social and political, literary and art life” (Hand 1943, 168). All were made welcome, and this included the amateur.
The conflict between the Chicago Folk-Lore Society and the American Folklore Society emerged in 1892. Bassett laid plans for the International Folk-Lore Congress to be held as part of the World’s Fair Auxiliary of the Columbian Exposition. First Bassett prepared a “Preliminary Address of the Committee on a Folk-Lore Congress,” and sent it to all people active in folklore studies (Bassett 1892a, 249-50). Appeals were made to folklore societies, with advice that they appoint “Committees of Cooperation.” He also invited the participation of organizations sharing an interest in folklore: “Oriental and Linguistic Societies, Ethnographical and Anthropological Societies, Indian, Egyptian, and Sinologue Societies, and the Gypsy Society.” As planned by Bassett, the Folklore Congress was to cover four main divisions: (1) myths and traditional beliefs, (2) oral literature and folk music, (3) customs, institutions, and ritual, and (4) artistic, emblematic, and economic folklore. For each of these divisions, Bassett listed possible topics that might be addressed. But he saw this as a guide, as merely suggestions for papers. As he wrote, “The Committee will welcome suggestions in this matter, while believing that the arrangement proposed may be satisfactory in the main” (Bassett 1892a, 250).
Fletcher Bassett sent his letter of invitation to the American Folklore Society. The editors of the Journal of American Folklore printed the invitation but deleted the accompanying list of the Advisory Council, which included the following members: Charles C. Baldwin, Franz Boas, Henry Carrington Bolton, Daniel G. Brinton, Thomas F. Crane, Stewart Culin, James Denas, J. Owen Dorsey, Alice Cunningham Fletcher, J. Walter Fewkes, Alcee Fortier, Horatio Hale, Charles Godfrey Leland, and Otis T. Mason (Officers of the American Folk-Lore Society 1892, 352). As they remarked,
In this list are mentioned several present and past officers of the American Folk-Lore Society; but as the names of these officers have been added without their consent or authority, and as they have not expressed approval of the plan of the Congress, it must not be supposed that the presence of their names on the roll commits them to any responsibility.
(Conclusion 1892, 252)
The Council of the American Folklore Society, while “returning thanks for the invitation, deemed it inexpedient officially to cooperate” in Bassett’s Folk-Lore Congress. The reason was stated explicitly: “The Congress is classed among the literary congresses. . . . The American Folk-Lore Society has always considered folk-lore to belong to anthropological science” (Congresses at the Columbian Exposition 1892, 248).
The American Folklore Society resolved to recommend to the World’s Fair Congress Auxiliary that a section on folklore be included in the Congress of Anthropology (Congresses 1892, 248). Clearly this was a reaction to Fletcher Bassett’s International Folk-Lore Congress, located as it was in the Department of Literature. One can almost hear the scurrying behind the scenes to formulate an alternate plan for a folklore congress. Yet when Newell reports on “Folk-Lore at the Columbian Exposition,” it is as a simple statement of fact:
In the congresses of The World’s Columbian Exposition, folk-lore is likely to have a double representation. In the first place, a separate Folk-Lore Congress has been provided for, to be held, in connection with the Department of Literature, in the month of July. ... In the second place, a Congress of Anthropology will be held, in which folk-lore will naturally find a place.
(Newell 1892, 239; emphasis added)
In 1893, Lee Vance commented on these two folklore congresses, “one in connection with the Department of Literature; and the other . . . with the Congress of Anthropology.” He concluded that “the proper place of the ‘science of folk-lore’ remains to be settled” (Vance 1893, 598).
Thus, while Bassett organized a whole congress on the subject of folklore, Newell and other members of the American Folklore Society were anxious that folklore be included as a part of the anthropology congress. Newell commented on this. He acknowledged a link between folklore and literature, “the connection between early written literature and oral popular tradition naturally would belong to the history of literature” (Newell 1892, 239). At the same time, folklore as the study “of primitive customs, and their modern survival among civilized peoples” falls in the realm of anthropology. “It might, therefore, from some points of view, seem a matter of indifference as to whether a congress concerned with folk-lore should be referred to the department of literature or to that of science” (Newell 1892, 239). For Newell, however, the matter was not one of indifference. He viewed the association of folklore with literature as a threat to the scientific credibility of folklore studies. He referred to the “extravagant pretensions and loose theorizing” in the studies of popular tradition and mythology (Newell 1892, 239-40). When folklore is removed from the scientific framework of anthropology, these wild embellishments occur. And the result is a tarnished image: “ ‘Folk-Lore’ is a useful word, but also one which is exposed to discredit” (Newell 1892, 239).
The way was clear for Newell: “In order to secure respect and usefulness for [folklore] studies, they must be under a strict scientific direction, and so controlled as to proceed in the modest and guarded method of all truly scientific research” (Newell 1892, 240). Folklore was not to be “a separate science.” The term was to refer to “a body of material,” and this material was to be studied “as a part of anthropological science.” In short, Newell said, “the word ‘folk-lore’ itself is not of that abstract character which can properly be used as the title of a science” (Newell 1892, 240).
To retain the regard of the scientific community, Newell counseled folklore societies to “refrain from undue self-assertion” (Newell 1892, 240). If the folklore societies directed their investigations toward completing the record, a gathering of scientific information, then their contribution was noteworthy. However, if these societies aimed at “undue self-assertion,” if they attempted “to establish a separate field independent of anthropological research,” then they were no longer serving a worthy purpose (Newell 1892, 240). For Newell, work in folklore was to be directed toward “promoting the general cause of anthropological investigation.”
Newell concluded his remarks on “Folk-Lore at the Columbian Exposition” by noting that the members of the Council of the American Folklore Society “officially join in a general Anthropological Congress.... If the Congress of Anthropology can be made educational, by setting an example of true scientific spirit and method, a good work will be accomplished for American anthropology” (Newell 1892, 240). As a result, a Committee of the World’s Congress Auxiliary on the International Congress of Anthropology was formed to organize and to direct the Congress of Anthropology. The executive committee consisted of Daniel G. Brinton, president; Franz Boas, secretary; C. Staniland Wake and Edward E. Ayer, as members of the World’s Congress Auxiliary Committee (Congresses 1893, 67).
The April-June 1893 issue of the Journal of American Folklore carried a report on the “Congresses at the Columbian Exposition.” The Folk-Lore Congress planned by Bassett published a selected listing of the more than seventy papers to be delivered during the week of July 10, 1893. The authors were eminent, the titles, varied. They included Professor G. Maspero (Paris, France), “Certain Modern Egyptian Superstitions Coming from Antiquity”; Horatio Hale (Clinton, Ontario), “The True Hiawatha”; Surgeon Washington Matthews (Fort Wingate, New Mexico), “Navajo Songs and Prayers, as Recorded by the Edison Phonograph, with Sacred, Agricultural, Building, War, Gambling, and Love Songs”; Dr. Stanislaus Prato (Sessa Aurunca, Italy), “The Symbolism of the Vase in Mythology, Ideography, Language, Hagiography, Literature, and Folk-Lore.” It should be noted that Washington Matthews was the only representative from the Bureau of American Ethnology who participated in the Folk-Lore Congress. He was a friend of Fletcher Bassett and also the vice-president of the Chicago Folklore Society (McNeil 1980, 330).
This announcement of Bassett’s Folk-Lore Congress in the Journal of American Folklore, appearing as it did with the impressive list of authors and titles, was followed by a call for papers for the Congress of Anthropology which would meet the week of August 28, 1893. “It is requested that the title and abstract of any paper to be offered to the Congress be forwarded as early as possible to the Secretary of the Local Committee with a statement of the time required for its reading” (Conclusion 1893, 159).
The Congress of Anthropology was to be divided into five sections with the following people in charge of the program arrangements:
Physical Anthropology: Franz Boas, Department of Ethnology, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois.
Archaeology: W. H. Holmes, Bureau of Ethnology, Washington, D.C.
Ethnology: Otis T. Mason, U.S. National Museum, Washington, D.C., and Stewart Culin, Department of Ethnology, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Ill.
Folk-Lore and Religions: W. W. Newell, Cambridge, Mass., and Cyrus Adler, U.S. National Museum, Washington, D.C.
Linguistics: D. G. Brinton, Media, Pa.
(Conclusion 1893, 159)
Brinton, as president of the section, was to open the first session with an address (Boas Papers, Brinton to Boas, 7/20/1893), which was to be followed by a discussion from 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. on myth and ritual, and papers from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M. The second day of the meeting was to be devoted to a discussion of methods in the study of religion; and the third, to an address by Alder, as well as to other papers, and a museum visit (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 9/21/1893).
Despite the work of the distinguished Program Committee, the Anthropological Congress was not a success. A cryptic entry in “Notes and Queries,” says, “In the end, the plan of this Congress was so far altered that the arrangement in separate sections was abandoned. . . . The Congress devoted to Folk-lore but one afternoon, on August 29, given to the Collection of Games in the Anthropological Building, and one morning, August 31, when a certain number of papers were presented.” The plans for the fruitful exchange of scientific ideas did not materialize: “The attendance at the Congress, as at most of the scientific congresses, was limited but the occasion was found pleasant by those who took part” (Officers 1893, 228).
The proceedings of the Anthropology Congress were published in 1894. No mention was made of the disappointing results of the congress—the rearrangement of sections and the sparse attendance. Indeed, from a reading of the Memoirs of the International Congress of Anthropology, with the preface by C. Staniland Wake (1894) and the thirty-five papers by distinguished scholars, one is left with the impression that the Anthropology Congress was well organized and well received. Undoubtedly, the Memoirs reflect the way in which the congress was intended to proceed.
In contrast, the International Folk-Lore Congress, organized by Bassett, was a success. There were “twelve formal sessions extending over eight days—July 10 to July 17.” The paper that drew the most enthusiastic response was delivered by Lieutenant H. L. Scott of Fort Riley, Kansas, on “The Sign Language of the Indians.” The headlines in the Chicago Tribune reported “IN A SIGN LANGUAGE FOUR SIOUX INDIANS CONVERSE WITHOUT THE USE OF WORDS” (McNeil 1985, 14). As an additional attraction, the participants were the “guests of Col. W. F. Cody at his Wild West Show.” A folksong concert was so popular that arrangements were made to present the show simultaneously in the Hall of Columbus and the Hall of Washington (Bassett and Starr 1898, 10-14).
In his opening remarks to the congress, Fletcher S. Bassett explained his reason for calling the meeting the Third International Congress, and proclaiming it the first American International Folk-Lore Congress. The congress, Bassett said, was international in scope and drew scholars from a “wide geographical range” (Bassett 1898, 17). Indeed, as he pointed out, in the first Folk-Lore Congress held in Paris in 1889, Germany, Norway, Russia, Austria, Spain, and Portugal were not represented. And in the second Congress held in 1891, in London, several countries did not attend. “Now,” Bassett noted, “for the first time, the co-operation of all has been asked, and representatives from all parts of the world have contributed papers, and some have travelled great distances, to be with us” (Bassett 1898, 17). For this reason, Bassett viewed this 1893 Congress as the “first great International Folk-Lore Congress.”
Bassett regretted that the official International Council of the International Folk-Lore Congress had not “fully participated in this Congress” (Bassett 1898, 17). He did not mention the manner in which they had failed to participate, though one might suspect that the council did not approve of Fletcher Bassett’s assuming the organizational control, and indeed, proclaiming and convening the International Folk-Lore Congress. He pointedly remarked that “the council of the oldest American society should, from local feelings of jealousy, hold aloof from it” (Bassett 1898, 17). This is an allusion to the decision made by the leaders of the American Folklore Society not to participate in this congress. And Bassett’s mention of this in these opening remarks clearly showed that he wanted to make public the slights he had felt from the international and national folklore community.
For Newell and Boas, the compelling thrust for folklore studies was toward professionalism. They saw as a potential danger both Bassett’s International Folklore Congress and the problematic contributions of amateur folklorists. The American Folklore Society, under the leadership of Newell and Boas, closed ranks against Bassett’s Chicago Folklore Society. An editorial policy was formulated by Newell and Boas that would minimize the effect of the amateur folklorists. On December 10, 1890 (Boas Papers), Newell wrote to Boas concerning the credentials of a certain person who wished to join the American Folklore Society, but who seemed to Newell to be less than a desirable member. He queried Boas, “You know more about his scientific status than I do; what is your opinion?” Newell expressed the wish “to see our membership more select,” a goal that could only be attained through an elective society. Five months later, Newell acknowledged that local amateurs would no doubt continue to participate in the activities of the American Folklore Society (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, May 9, 1890).
Still, Newell stipulated, the society should adopt increasingly rigorous standards of scholarship. These he stated clearly in the Journal of American Folklore. He eschewed “philosophic speculation” about the origin of myths and customs; and he encouraged collection by stating that, “it cannot be too strongly urged that the present need of the study of the religions of primitive races is not theoretic discussion, but practical research; not comparison, but collection” (Newell 1888c, 162). This collection of “the mythology of native races” should be approached not “as curious fancies or absurd superstitions, but as living beliefs” (Newell 1888c, 162). Newell’s emphasis was on folklore in context, as living traditions. This was the anthropologist in Newell. In his opening editorial statement for the first volume of the Journal of American Folklore. Newell clearly emphasized his predilection for the oral nature of living folklore by pointing out that the literary versions were inferior and not genuine. As an example, he referred to the “inferior rhymes of literary origin” which had replaced the old ballads. Still, Newell opined, “genuine ballads” could be found in the colonies where they had “been transmitted from generation to generation by oral tradition” (Newell 1888a, 4).
Clearly, then, Newell’s editorial preferences were directed toward the presentation of folklore as a living system of oral traditions. He was straightforward about this, as he was about his disdain for speculative work on the meaning or origin of folklore. He disapproved of the “attention . . . given to the supposed origin of certain widely diffused systems of myth and custom” (Newell 1888a, 7).
As Newell remarked, “the editors are agreed” about the focus of the articles which “should be free from controversial references, treated solely with a view to the elucidation of the theme in hand” (Newell 1888a, 7). And, more specifically, the authors “should follow the narrow path of historical criticism, rather than diverge into the broad fields of philosophic speculation.” If the authors follow these stipulations, “the editors will endeavor to keep the readers of this journal informed of such views of this sort as seem to possess sufficient scientific status to make them worth recording” (Newell 1888a, 7).
Newell adhered to what he termed “scientific standards of research, and facilitated the efforts of fieldworkers when possible. On one occasion he wrote to Boas asking him to obtain “a graphophone for Alice Bacon who is gathering negro folk-songs at Hampton Institute.” Miss Bacon intended to bring the wax cylinders to the American Folklore Society meeting, and Newell added, I think that would have an excellent effect toward exhibiting the scientific energy of our Society” (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 12/9/1898). In his editorial tasks as well, he always used the criterion of science to guide him. Referring to a folktale Boas had collected which had obscene content, Newell wrote Boas, “I suppose . . . that you think the passage in question is all right in Latin. I can’t say that I enjoy these features of tales; but I suppose that science requires their noting” (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 3/2/1897).2
Franz Boas concurred with Newell’s strictures on “amateur” contributions to the Journal of American Folklore and to the American Folklore Society as well. Boas was working with direction and purpose toward making anthropology a professional discipline. For Boas, as for Newell, the study of folklore was part of anthropology. It was a serious and integral part of his own work, of his students’ work, and of his vision for the development of anthropology in the United States.
Writing about “The Foundation of a National Anthropological Society,” Boas restated the concerns that he and Newell had shared about the American Folklore Society more than a decade earlier.
A difficult problem often arises among those societies which are most successful in popularizing the subject matter of their science, because the lay members largely outnumber the scientific contributors. Whenever this is the case there is a tendency towards lowering the scientific value of discussion. . . . The greater the public interest in a science, the less technical knowledge it appears to require, the greater is the danger that meetings may assume the character of popular lectures.
(Boas 1902a, 805)
Newell and Boas had acted with swiftness and with urgency to counter, indeed, to undermine Bassett’s plans for developing folklore. Bassett’s clarion call—for folklore apart from anthropology, for folklore as an independent discipline, and for the inclusion of all, even the amateur—sounded alarm in the American Folklore Society. Newell and Boas lived to regret the clash. Bassett did not. In 1893, shortly after the close of the International Folk-Lore Congress of the World’s Fair Columbian Exposition, Fletcher S. Bassett died of a heart attack. Boas wrote to Newell on February 24, 1894, “Do you know if the report of the death of Lieut. Bassett is correct? Somebody, I have forgotten who, told me about it a few weeks ago” (Boas Papers, Boas to Newell, 2/24/1894). Boas added that, prior to hearing of Bassett’s death, he had intended to become acquainted with the members of the Chicago Folk-Lore Society. This effort he would delay for a respectful period of time with the hopes, as he said, that “I shall be able to bring about an understanding between the Society here and the American Society” (Boas Papers, Boas to Newell, 2/24/1894). Newell replied to Boas that he had not heard of Bassett’s death, but that he was sure “that a little attention and a few words to some of the more influential members of the Chicago Folk-Lore Society, at this time, would induce the Society to cast its lot with us, sooner, or later” (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 5/2/1894). And he added, “I can hardly think that the gentlemen engaged in that work will be contented to go on as at present.” This attempt at reconciliation was not motivated out of concern for the Chicago Folk-Lore Society, or for the interests of folklore studies in general. Rather, it was tied to a serious and constant consideration—how to increase the membership in the American Folklore Society. (See also Dwyer-Shick 1979, 33-48.)
Newell planned to make efforts at reconciliation with the Chicago Folklore Society, and he encouraged Boas to do the same: “I hope to be able to remove any feeling on the part of his friends by attention to his widow who is in my neighborhood” (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 2/27/1896). He continued: “I think that with the best intention something of a mistake was made by us in that direction. I have not, and never had any feelings against them; but if I had the thing to do over again, I would have attended their Congress in spite of their way of doing things” (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 2/27/1896).
The editor of the Journal of American Folklore was in a crucial position to maintain the early editorial policy—one directed toward increasing professionalism and anthropological affiliation of folklore studies. And it is in this position, the editorship of the Journal of American Folklore, that much of the drama of the literary-anthropological split was enacted. The framework for this tension can be glimpsed in Dwyer-Shick’s sketch of the editorship from 1888 to 1940: “From the founding of the Journal of American Folklore in 1888 through 1940 there were only five individuals . . . who served as its Editor. . . . Except for the first Editor, William Wells Newell (1888-1900), the others were all anthropologists” (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 8). Alexander F. Chamberlain (1901-1907), who succeeded Newell, had been a student of Boas at Clark University.3 Franz Boas was editor from 1908 to 1924, and was succeeded by two more of his former students: Ruth F. Benedict (1925-1939) and Gladys Reichard (1940).
Though Dwyer-Shick does not classify Newell as an anthropologist, he was adamant in his view that folklore should be part of anthropology, and that its scientific credibility was threatened by a close association with a literary organization. Indeed, he characterized his own work as directed toward building “up the Society in such manner as to make it a power in advancing ethnology and anthropology” (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 1/29/1906). Thus, the following can be added to Dwyer-Shick’s sketch of the editorship of the Journal of American Folklore: from 1888 to 1940, the articles included in this journal were selected and shaped by one of the five editors, all of whom were anthropological in their orientation to folklore.
Clearly, up to 1940, the Journal of American Folklore was heavily influenced by Boas and his students. Of the first fifty-two years of the journal’s existence, Boas served as editor for sixteen. His close friend and associate, W. W. Newell, who served thirteen years, was the only editor who was not one of Boas’s students. The other three editors had been strongly influenced by Boas’s training, and were respectful of his views. The Boasian influence even extended to the location for the editorial office. From 1908, when Boas became editor, until 1941, when Gladys Reichard ended her year as editor, the editorial office for the Journal of American Folklore was at Columbia University in New York City (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 8).
The control of the Journal of American Folklore by anthropological folklorists was cause of concern to those who were not in the Boasian circle. On January 3, 1898, Daniel Brinton wrote to Boas pertaining to the content of the journal articles, “I am inclined to think that our Society ought to keep closer to Folk-Lore, pure & simple, than it has done. There is enough of it if we seek it.” Brinton’s objection was linked to the debate as to what constituted folklore: “Comparative mythology & religion are not folklore. There are avenues for the publication of these elements of Ethnology” (Boas Papers, Brinton to Boas, 1/3/1898). Brinton assured Boas that, “in the same manner I have opposed the introduction of Folk-Lore in the Anthropologic Section of the Academy of Nat. Sciences of Phila.”
Newell had at least attempted to present a range of material in the journal, both anthropological and non-anthropological. As he wrote to Boas on February 9, 1889, “To carry out the publication scheme, I would print two volumes annually: one of Indian Lore, one of English, French, etc, as long as the material held out” (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 2/6/1889). However, the articles by “the Indian men,” as the anthropological folklorists were called (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 3/26/1889), far outnumbered those of the literary folklorists. This was a reflection of the interests and efforts of both Newell and Boas as is shown in their early correspondence:
Certainly you should have an article in the next number, I think of at least 10 pages, as your journey will afford an interesting field. . . . Mr. Horatio Hale will contribute the first of a series of articles on Huron Folk-lore; and Mr. DeCost Smith has sent me an article on Witchcraft of the Modern Iroquois. So much for Indian lore.
(Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 8/7/1888)
In 1898, when the first volume of the American Anthropologist appeared, there were suggestions that the Journal of American Folklore. already anthropological in orientation, should merge with the new journal. Newell, fatigued from his ten years of ceaseless work on the Journal of American Folklore, wrote Boas, “As to the proposed amalgamation with the American Anthropologist, my point is that after next year I wish to be free from the charge of editing the Journal. If another editor can be found, well and good.” However, Newell was not altogether sanguine about the demise of the journal. “I am glad to find that there is a disposition to maintain the Journal, and I shall be pleased to have some arrangement made. The Society is not very strong; the Journal just about pays for itself” (Boas Papers, Newell to Boas, 10/13/1898).
This talk of merging the Journal of American Folklore with the American Anthropologist continued for another decade. As Boas wrote to Tozzer in January 31, 1907, “You may be aware that about two or three years ago we talked seriously about the desirability of combining the Folk-Lore Journal with the American Anthropologist, but after a good deal of discussion, we all agreed that this step would not be desirable.” Boas said this discussion was reached because “the constituency” of the Journal of American Folklore differed “a good deal” from that of the American Anthropologist, and could not be transferred successfully. Further, Boas remarked, there was “ample folklore material” for the Journal of American Folklore, and there was not adequate space for its publication in the American Anthropologist (Boas Papers, Boas to Tozzer, 1/31/1907).
In 1907, after Newell’s death, the first concerted attempts were made to strike a balance between the anthropological and the literary. Roland B. Dixon wrote to Boas,
You have doubtless heard the sad news before this, of Newell’s sudden death on Monday. I had seen him Saturday, and although he had a cold, he seemed to be quite his usual self. He went to Wayland as usual for Sunday, to his sister’s, and was found dead Monday morning, in his bed. I have called a Council meeting today to pass formal resolutions for insertion in the Journal, which Chamberlain is holding up for the purpose.
(Boas Papers, Dixon to Boas, 1/23/1907)
Boas responded to Dixon, “Your letter informing me of Newell’s death was a great shock to me. Mr. Newell was a man who won the admiration and respect of every one who came in contact with him, and I feel that his death is a severe loss to all of us” (Boas Papers, Boas to Dixon, 2/1/1907).
At the memorial service held for Newell in Cambridge on March 10, 1907, Boas read a eulogy. He spoke of Newell as “a man of literary inclinations [who] came to be a power in the field of anthropology. . . . Thus it came to pass that he set anthropologists thinking in new lines, that he added new recruits to our ranks and that he pressed one of us after another into his service.” Boas concluded his eulogy, “It is left to us to see that his work may live; and our task has been made easy by him, for those ideas for which he stood have taken firm hold. May his memory help us to follow in his steps” (Boas Papers, Newell Memorial, 3/10/1907).
However, plans had been set in motion scarcely a week after Newell’s death to chart a different course for the society and the journal, to diverge from the path struck by Newell. In fact, there had been talk of replacing Newell even prior to his death. Kroeber wrote to Dixon about a conversation he had had with Tozzer:
I had a talk with him while in Cambridge as to the necessity of someone looking after the Society in all ways, on the side of the organization and membership as well as editorially, both with a view to supplementing Newell’s often unsystematic work and with the idea of taking it up when he should no longer be able to serve.
(Kroeber Papers, Kroeber to Dixon, 1/30/1907)
Kroeber concurred with Dixon that “Cambridge is the most desirable place in which to run the Society.” Further, Kroeber saw “the present occasion” of Newell’s death as “an admirable one” for giving Tozzer “a hand in the Journal” as well as in the society, since Newell had served as assistant editor as well as secretary.
On January 28, 1907, Tozzer, in his new capacity as secretary pro tem, wrote to Boas, “With the very greatest respect to the memory of Mr. Newell, it seems to me as if the affairs of the Society and, to a greater degree, those of the Journal were getting very much into a rut.” Tozzer continued, “The Society has among its members about all the Anthropologists of the country and there is little hope of growth in that direction.” He echoed Brinton’s 1898 remarks, “If the Journal is to be simply a medium for presenting the Folk-Lore of the American Indians, why should it not be combined or attached to the American Anthropologist? What is the need of a separate publication?” Tozzer suggested instead that “the range of the Journal ... be extended.” He further stated that “this expansion would be on the literary side of Folk-Lore, growth in this direction would seem possible.” Tozzer suggested trying “to reawaken the interest of such men as Professor Kittredge who was a founder of the society but who has long ceased to have any hand in the government or the policy of the association.” He indicated that each issue of the journal should contain at least one article on a “general phase of Folk-Lore,” as well as “a contribution in relation of Folk-Lore and the literatures of the world.”
If the Journal is to live as a separate publication, it must find a place for itself and this place is not, it seems to me strictly among the Anthropologists who have their own Journal but in a field of wider interest including to be sure the Anthropologists and those interested in Folk-Lore as showing the growth and development of literature.
(Boas Papers, Tozzer to Boas, 1/28/1907)
Responding to Tozzer’s letter, Boas noted that Newell “as well as many of us have been dissatisfied with the condition of the Journal.” Part of the difficulties with the journal, as Boas saw it, had to do with the policies of Chamberlain who was “always looking for the curious, not for the ordinary material.” Boas added, “last Christmas we were discussing the possibility of taking the management of the articles of the journal away from Dr. Chamberlain, and of letting him keep merely the bibliographical portion.” Boas did not, however, agree with Tozzer concerning the ambitious expansion of the literary material: “It is my own opinion that it is of doubtful advisability to try to make a strong development of the literary side of European folklore in America, while it would be quite appropriate to develop the study of negro folk-lore.” Boas was convinced that the orientation of the European folklorists differed substantively from that of the anthropological folklorists:
The groups of people interested in the study of European folk-lore differ so much in their general points of view and in their other interests from our people, that the “Folk-Lore Journal” might become very heterogeneous unless we happen to interest strongly a number of men who are at the same time imbued with anthropological spirit.
(Boas Papers, Boas to Tozzer, 1/31/1907)
Boas suggested that Tozzer “talk over the matter with Professor Kittredge” to get his advice.
At the 1908 Chicago meeting of the American Folklore Society, Chamberlain was replaced as editor of the journal. To soften his demotion, he was appointed bibliographic editor. And as Tozzer wrote to him, “We are assuming that the bibliographical side of the work is the one which appeals most strongly to you” (Boas Papers, Tozzer to Chamberlain, 1/7/1908). The Council appointed Boas editor, since he was “in intimate communication with the workers in folk-lore.” Kittredge was recruited “to father the literary side of the subject.”4
Tozzer sent a form letter to all the secretaries of the American Folklore Society that explained the change of editorship. He noted that the addition of Boas and Kittredge as editors, with Chamberlain in charge of bibliographic materials, was intended to strengthen the journal and to make it of interest to a broader audience. He restated that “it is our endeavor to give more prominence to the literary side of folk-lore in the Journal so that the interest will not be confined strictly to the aboriginal side” (Boas Papers, Tozzer to Secretaries of AFS, 1/10/1908). Tozzer ended the letter graciously, noting that “we are beginning to reap the results of Mr. Newell’s constant devotion and energies.”
Just as Newell was wearied after ten years as editor of the Journal of American Folklore, so was Boas. On October 17, 1918, he wrote Tozzer, “I feel . . . on the whole strongly inclined to give up the matter, and perhaps it might be as well for the Folk-Lore Society to have a change of editors” (Boas Papers, Boas to Tozzer, 10/17/1918). Tozzer wrote an urgent reply, typed in red for emphasis (10/23/1918), “You must not do this. The Society would die.” Apparently Boas was persuaded: he remained editor until 1924.
Another of Tozzer’s concerns was increasing the membership of the society. For the twentieth annual meeting of the American Folklore Society, held in Baltimore, Maryland, Tozzer presented a detailed report on the state of the society which indicated a decrease in membership (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 36; Tozzer 1909, 85-86). This he attributed to a lack of concerted effort toward recruitment of new members. The declining membership and the anthropological orientation of the journal and of the society were proof to Tozzer of the need to redirect the society.
Two years after taking over as secretary of the American Folklore Society, Tozzer gave a positive review of the Journal of American Folklore in his Annual Report: “Thanks to the efforts made by Professor G. L. Kittredge and others, a considerable amount of material relating to European folklore has been offered for publication in the Journal, and it is the hope of the Editor that this department of the Journal may be considerably strengthened in coming years” (Tozzer 1909, 88). Though there are no reports in the Journal of American Folklore relating to the Committee on Membership which was formed following Tozzer’s recommendation (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 37), it is doubtful that the committee had much effect. As Dwyer-Shick reports, “there was no appreciable increase in the total membership of the Society until the end of the next decade, about the beginning of the 1920s” (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 37).
On a lesser, but still important scale, the division between the anthropological folklorists and the literary folklorists featured in the selection of the president of the American Folklore Society, and in the choice for the location of the annual meetings. Though attempts had been made to elect presidents from “the side of literature” (Boas Papers, Tozzer to Boas, 12/17/1908; Boas to Tozzer, 12/17/1908), still an imbalance had existed since the founding of the Society. In a period of twenty-six years—from 1888 to 1914—there had been only six men of a literary orientation to the study of folklore who served in the office of president.5 Dwyer-Shick lists them as Francis James Child (1888, 1889), Alcee Fortier (1894), Henry Wood (1898), George Lyman Kittredge (1904), Henry M. Belden (1910, 1911), and John Lomax (1912, 1913) (Dwyer-Schick 1979, 61). Child, Belden, and Lomax served two-year terms. Thus, for nine years of this twenty-six year period the president of the American Folklore Society had been an individual with a literary orientation to folklore studies. For the remaining seventeen years, the office of president had been filled by an individual with an anthropological orientation to folklore studies.
This was a source of concern to members of the society. So in 1914, at the twenty-sixth annual meeting of the American Folklore Society, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a resolution was adopted by the council to effect an “annual alternation of Presidents without re-election, the alternating to be as far as possible between the literary and the anthropological aspects of folk-lore” (Twenty-sixth annual meeting 1915, 101; Dwyer-Shick 1979, 49). Dwyer-Shick remarked, “And yet, this was not what did in fact take place” (1979, 60). Actually, the situation remained precisely as it was prior to the 1914 resolution. From 1914 to 1940, a period of twenty-six years, there were three men and one woman elected as president who were of a literary orientation. These were Aurelio M. Espinosa (1923, 1924), Louise Pound (1925, 1926), Archer Taylor (1935, 1936), and Stith Thompson (1937, 1938, 1939) (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 60). From this list, it is apparent that these four presidents served a total of nine years. For the remaining seventeen years, the office of president was occupied by a person with an anthropological orientation to folklore.
The imbalance between the anthropological folklorists and the literary folklorists, while officially recognized by the 1914 resolution, was by no means rectified. This issue was the nexus in the selection of the president of the American Folklore Society in 1925. Unable to attend the thirty-sixth annual meeting of the society, Franz Boas wrote to Elsie Clews Parsons requesting that she see to several matters of importance. He mentioned the invitation from the University of Chicago to meet with the Modern Language Association the following year (Boas Papers, Boas to Parsons, 12/29/1924). Boas noted that the American Folklore Society had benefited from the 1924 joint membership agreement with the Modern Language Association whereby one could join both organizations for a single payment of six dollars (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 51): “We have received more than sixty new members . . . while they have received hardly any from us. . . .” The imbalance in the joint membership continued. By 1928, 115 of the 341 members of the society had joined through the joint agreement (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 53; Fortieth annual meeting 1929, 197), while the Modern Language Association had gained only a few members. Boas made the following suggestion to Parsons:
I think it would be a good plan to elect one of the Modern Language people, perhaps Miss Pound of Nebraska, president, and to meet with the Modern Language people and try at the same time to arrange the time so that members may also attend the Anthropological Association meeting.
(Boas Papers, Boas to Parsons, 12/29/1924)
Louise Pound was elected president of the American Folklore Society in 1925; and re-elected in 1926. Since she had not attended the thirty-sixth annual meeting, she was informed of her new position by letter which also informed her of the location for the next annual meeting:
It was voted to hold a double meeting next Christmas, one meeting with the Modern Language Association in Chicago, and a second one in New Haven in connection with the American Anthropological Association and following an invitation to meet at the formal opening of the new Peabody Museum in New Haven.
(UPFFA, Boas to Pound, 1/12/1925)
Even though it was politic to meet with the Modern Language Association for the annual meeting, the American Folklore Society was loath to give up an annual meeting with the American Anthropological Association. As Dwyer-Shick remarks, “the Thirty-Seventh Annual Meeting was held in two different cities, at two different times, and with two different professional organizations” (1979, 56). These bifurcated meetings, in effect, symbolized the divided loyalties of the American Folklore Society. Like Dr, Doolittle’s two-headed llama, the American Folklore Society was pushed and pulled in two different directions at once. And yet, one direction had the stronger pull: the American Folklore Society held its business meeting in New Haven, at the time of the joint meeting with the American Anthropological Association.
Wayland Hand remarked that the American Folklore Society used to be “a poor step-sister” to the American Anthropological Association. He recalled the “petty annoyances” that existed for the folklorists in this affiliation. For annual meeting accommodations, the American Folklore Society was always given “the rinky-dink rooms.” “Once when we met with the American Anthropological Association in New York—I don’t remember what year, but it was in New York—we were given an old run-down hotel about 15 miles from the other hotels and meetings.”6
Even the fiftieth anniversary celebration for the founding of the American Folklore Society was held as part of the joint meeting with the American Anthropological Association. Stith Thompson, who was president of the American Folklore Society in 1937, remarked that “the Society had reached a low ebb” so he organized a special program to mark the fiftieth year. The American Folklore Society had “a full day of programs and a special dinner in the evening.” And as he said, the dinner “was well attended not only by members of the Anthropological Association but by a good many of the folklorists who came in from outside” (Thompson 1956, 156). Thompson continued, “Franz Boas spoke on the history of the society for its first fifty years, and I gave my presidential address, which was a look into the future” (1956, 157). This was a balanced program for the American Folklore Society. Boas, as an anthropological folklorist, spoke of the society’s past; and Thompson, as a literary folklorist, looked to the future. In three years’ time, this balance between the anthropological and the literary would be fixed in policy for the American Folklore Society.
Up to this time, the joint annual meetings of the American Folklore Society and the American Anthropological Association were an established pattern. From the founding of the American Anthropological Association in 1901 until the year 1941, all but four meetings of the American Folklore Society were held in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association.7 As Dwyer-Shick and Dorson noted, the American Folklore Society planned meetings for one day of the three or four day meeting of the American Anthropological Association, during which time, papers were read. Additional time was allotted for meetings of the council and of the society (Dwyer-Shick 1979, 63; Dorson 1971a, 12).
Unlike the articulated attempt to regulate the selection of the president—to alternate between literary and anthropological folklorists—the scheduling of the annual meeting with the American Anthropological Association followed an informal procedure. It was never explicitly stated as policy that the American Folklore Society would meet on an annual basis with the American Anthropological Association. Yet it was always assumed that this would be the case. (See also Dwyer-Shick 1979, 62-66.) As the program chairperson for the American Anthropological Association said, “It has always been customary for the American Folk-Lore Society to meet with us” (UPFFA, Setzler to Herzog, 9/30/1940). This scheduling of the American Folklore Society meeting with the American Anthropological Association was cause for resentment. Herzog wrote to Hallowell on the subject, “The non-primitive group are dissatisfied. . . . One man writes whether it will be possible to hold the primitive and non-primitive groups together” and mentioned that “the latter always suffer since our meetings are always together with the AAA, not the MLA” (UPFFA, Herzog to Hallowell, 11/10/1940).
Stith Thompson in his memoirs entitled “Folklorist’s Progress,” recalled the situation:
At that time  the Folklore Society always met with the American Anthropological Association and occupied only one of the sessions of their program. . . . While it was good to have the interest of the American Anthropological Association, this arrangement brought it about that all that group of folklorists who were not anthropologists but who approached their subject from the point of view of English or one of the literatures usually stayed away.
(Thompson 1956, 140)
The fifty-second annual meeting of the American Folklore Society, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 27-30, 1940, proved to be a pivotal point for the society. Stith Thompson recalled that “at Chicago the year before a committee had been appointed to try to analyze the ills of the Society and to suggest ways in which it might be improved. It was generally agreed that the editorship of the Journal of American Folklore should move from Columbia University, where it had been for so many years” (Thompson 1956, 168-69).
On February 24, 1940, the Council of the American Folklore Society called a meeting “to discuss current affairs of the society connected with the change of editorship and the publication of the Journal” (UPFFA, Herzog, 2/1940). As mentioned, in 1940 Gladys Reichard was editor of the Journal of American Folklore, and the editorial office was located at Columbia University. The change of editorship to which Herzog was referring would result in the appointment of the first editor who was not a student or close colleague of Boas. And this would be the first editor with a literary orientation to folklore studies. Archer Taylor, professor of German literature at the University of California, Berkeley, would serve as editor for the Journal of American Folklore for 1941. And he would move the editorial office from its location of thirty-three years at Columbia University, New York, to the University of California, Berkeley. Clearly, there were changes afoot, and these were set in motion at this meeting.
However, this change of location was not accomplished without a struggle. Parsons wrote to Herskovits on November 17, 1940,
Suggestions: For administration, representatives as far as possible from all centers interested in folk lore; but the editorship of the Journal to remain in the hands of a folklorist who is also an experienced anthropologist. Assistant editors representing all fields to be consulted or asked to edit contributions within their field.
(Parsons Papers, Parsons to Herskovits, 11/17/1940)
Still, the consensus of opinion was, as Herzog said, “that the Journal and the society were directed for too long by people in New York City” (UPFFA, Herzog to Herskovits, 11/18/1940). And, in a letter to Stith Thompson, Herzog remarked, “I do not feel that a journal like the folklore journal needs to be tied all the time to New York or to the East” (UPFFA, Herzog to Thompson, 3/3/1940).
Still another result of the special council meeting that was convened in February 1940 was the Committee on Policy. A. Irving Hallowell, as president of the American Folklore Society, appointed Ralph Boggs, Ann H. Gayton, Elsie Clews Parsons, Archer Taylor, Stith Thompson, and Leslie A. White as members of this committee. Melville J. Herskovits was appointed chairman of the Committee on Policy (UPFFA, Herskovits to Parsons, 11/15/1940). The committee was to draft a series of recommendations which would be considered by the council at its next regular meeting, during the fifty-second annual meeting.
The report of the Committee on Policy was presented at the annual meeting, and was also published in volume 54 of the Journal of American Folklore. The committee was straightforward and succinct in identifying the main problem of the American Folklore Society: “It is clear that the major difficulty facing the Society arises from a failure to assess the importance of the fact that, by its very nature, the Society and its Journal are peripheral to two major concerns—those of anthropologists and those of persons in the humanities” (Fifty-second annual meeting 1941, 76). The committee suggested that, in the future, “the Society should recognize more explicitly than in the past the importance of this fact” and should emphasize the points of convergence between the two fields. The committee made thirteen specific recommendations. Eight of these were concerned with organizational aspects of the society. Four were directed toward changes in the journal. And the final recommendation dealt with cost-reduction for the journal.
These recommendations of the Committee on Policy were approved by the Council of the American Folklore Society on December 30, 1940, signed by the members of the committee on January 9, 1941, and printed in the January-June 1941 issue of the journal. They, therefore, had the official approval of the society, and they laid the foundation for a major reorientation—if not reorganization—of the American Folklore Society.
The first two recommendations concerned the nomination of the president and the vice-president. Recommendation number one was a restatement of the 1914 resolution which provided for the annual alternation of the president from the literary and anthropological circles (Twenty-sixth annual meeting 1915, 101). The 1940 recommendation read, in part, “the Nominating Committee shall be instructed to select a President each year from a field differing from that of the incumbent” (Fifty-second annual meeting 1941, 76). Recommendation number two requested that the Nominating Committee choose candidates for the vice-presidency on an annual basis, and that the choice be guided by the needs of the society at that time. The Committee on Policy drew attention once again to their major concern: “It is recommended, however, that in selecting the President and Vic-President [sic], every effort be made to see that the fields of anthropology and the humanities are equally represented” (Fifty-second annual meeting 1941, 76).
Recommendation number three addressed the choice of location for the annual meeting. It was suggested that the place of the meeting be chosen with the thought of all the members in mind. Thus, a balance should be achieved between meetings held jointly with the Modern Language Association and the American Anthropological Association. The Committee was not proposing “a rigid policy of alternation,” but they noted
that the tradition of meeting exclusively with the American Anthropological Association, except when the Modern Language Association happens to meet in the same city as the American Anthropological Association, tends to discourage the attendance at the annual meetings of the Folklore Society of those whose major interest lies in the humanities.
(Fifty-second annual meeting 1941, 76-77)
The fourth recommendation concerned the appointment and the length of tenure of the editor. It was suggested that the editor be nominated and elected on an annual basis; and that no editor should occupy this position for more than five consecutive years. Recommendation number eight provided for the annual nomination and election of the associate editors. And one associate editor would be designated as book review editor of the journal.
The fifth recommendation established the Committee on Membership as a standing committee, and suggested a policy for concentrated recruitment of new members, that is, that the committee would focus intensely on one geographical region per year.
In the sixth recommendation, it was suggested that a new committee be formed to work toward closer cooperation with other folklore organizations, “and also to devise ways and means of integrating the interests of amateur collectors with the work of the Society” (Fifty-second annual meeting 1941, 77).
The Committee on Policy noted that the Journal of American Folklore “is recognized by all as paramount.” The four recommendations concerning the journal were formulated to help “guide the new Editor,” and to record the society’s sincere intention “to widen the appeal of the approach toward folklore to be taken by our Journal.” To this end, the ninth recommendation was for the discontinuance of single topic issues. Number ten suggested that more space be allotted for short articles, and “that efforts be made to obtain theoretical papers to balance the collections of raw data” (Fifty-second annual meeting 1941, 77). Number eleven suggested that information helpful to amateurs be provided in the journal. To this end, discussion of collecting techniques, presentation of sample questionnaires, and a consideration of methodology should be included. Recommendation number twelve suggested a return to an earlier feature of the journal, a review of the contents in other folklore and related journals.
These recommendations were taken seriously by the society. As noted, the editor who was chosen after the approval of these recommendations was Archer Taylor, a literary folklorist. And following recommendation number five, a Standing Committee on Membership was formed. A. Irving Hallowell, as president of the society, appointed Elsie Clews Parsons and Cora DuBois. Subsequently, Stith Thompson and Joseph Campbell, who were councilors of the society, were added to the membership committee to represent the literary side of folklore studies (UPFFA, Herzog, 2/1940; Fifty-first annual meeting 1940, 194).
Undoubtedly, in its first year, the Standing Committee on Membership worked with commitment to increase the membership of the society. But it was really in its second year, when Verne F. Ray replaced Cora DuBois as chairman, that a systematic attempt was made to implement the recommendations of the Committee on Policy. As Ray wrote to Hallowell, who was president of the society, “I believe that results can be achieved if, and only if the recommendations of the Committee on Policy be strictly followed” (UPFFA, Ray to Hallowell, 12/22/1941). If these recommendations were followed, Ray was confident that there would not only be an increase in membership, but that many new members with literary interests would join the society.
Ray emphasized that a regular publication schedule for the journal was imperative in order to increase membership: “a membership appeal is pretty weak unless tangible evidence of one’s selling points can be presented to the prospect” (UPFFA, Ray to Hallowell, 12/22/1941). And Ray had some suggestions for making the product more appealing.
In particular I would like to see the cover conform more closely to modern journal practice. I believe that amateurs, in particular, would be more receptive to the Journal if it bore a more attractive cover and a livelier format. The scholar and editor know that the quality of content is the proper criterion of a journal but secretary and treasurer know that subscribers consider appearance also.
(UPFFA, Ray to Hallowell, 12/22/1941)
In the review of the recommendations made by the Committee on Policy, and the recapitulation of these points by Ray, it is striking to note how the orientation of the society and the journal had changed. During the early years of the society, Boas and Newell had carefully steered a course close to the anthropological interests in folklore. In fact, they viewed an identification with the literary interests in folklore studies as perilous to professional recognition. The policy of the editors of the Journal of American Folklore was explicitly stated: articles should be scientific in nature; and literary articles that met scientific standards could be included. The participation of amateur folklorists in the activities of the society, while tolerated, was not entirely welcomed. And the American Folklore Society sought to set itself apart from the Chicago Folklore Society, and from other local societies in the early years.
Newell and Boas were primarily concerned with establishing folklore studies as a professional—but not independent—enterprise. Folklore was to nest under the wing of anthropology, protected by the scientific respectability of the anthropological discipline. But the division between the anthropological folklorists and the literary folklorists was always present. Sometimes the points of disagreement appeared as innocuous recollections of past injustices—as in Thompson’s memoirs where he noted the slight dealt the literary folklorists by the perpetual joint meeting with the American Anthropological Association. And at times the disagreement yielded a society resolution—as in 1914 when the council of the society voted to alternate presidents between the literary and the anthropological interests in the society.
Finally, in 1940, the Committee on Policy made a series of recommendations that were predicated on a recognition of the division within folklore studies. As the committee stated it, the society and the journal were “peripheral to two major concerns,” those of anthropologists and those of people in the humanities (Fifty-second annual meeting 1941, 76). According to the Committee on Policy, the viability and success of the society and the journal required a conscious effort to draw these two concerns together; and to make the business of the society, and the publications of the journal relevant to individuals of both concerns.
To this end, there was a concerted attempt to draw new members from literary circles. And members with a literary interest in folklore studies could be assured that the society would meet with the Modern Language Association with some regularity, and that the president of the society and the editor would alternate between an anthropological folklorist and a literary folklorist. So in organizational structure, the society and the journal were directed toward the inclusion—not the exclusion—of folklorists with a literary interest in folklore studies. This was a complete reversal of Boas’s and Newell’s earlier orientation.
Further, in order to increase membership and bring money to the coffers, the journal had to appeal to a larger audience, and this audience was composed of amateurs with an interest in folklore. So, whereas Boas and Newell eschewed the participation of amateurs in the affairs of the society, in 1940 the Committee on Policy encouraged their participation. And in 1941, the chairman of the Committee on Membership even suggested that the cover of the journal be made livelier and more appealing to draw the amateur folklorists into the society.
The policy of the American Folklore Society and the Journal of American Folklore took a pendulum swing from an exclusively anthropological orientation to folklore, to a conscious attempt to include the literary folklorists in the activities and publications of the society; from a movement toward professionalism, to an active recruitment of amateurs.