While the struggle for hegemony went on in the American Folklore Society, the literary folklorists were intently pursuing their academic work. And in many instances, they were penning the future classics of folkloristics. The power and control that were exercised by the anthropological folklorists were expressed in organizational terms. Succeeding with their game strategy for control of the American Folklore Society, the anthropological folklorists claimed the turf, at least until 1940.
But from the halls of academe, another scene unfolded. The action began at Harvard University, where Child started work on the ballad and Kittredge continued it. From this common source, the halls of Harvard and the tutelage of Child and Kittredge, the literary folklorists fanned out across the country. At Texas, Colorado, Maine, and Indiana, the young Stith Thompson pursued his work on the folktale. At Berkeley, Walter Morris Hart devoted himself to the ballad. Archer Taylor, who specialized in the proverb, came to Berkeley after his years at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago. At Los Angeles, Hustvedt continued the work of his mentors in ballad scholarship. He was joined by Wayland Hand who focused on folk beliefs, folk medicine, and legends.
Dan Ben-Amos has remarked on these differing centers of control for the anthropological folklorists and the literary folklorists: “While the anthropological approach remained dominant in the American Folklore Society itself for many years, it was the literary approach, heralded by Bassett and the Chicago Folklore Society, that was the dominant force at the universities” (Ben-Amos 1973,123). To understand the extent to which literary folklorists in certain university departments directed the course of academic folklore studies, one must note the academic genealogy and the major works of several leading scholars. To do this, one should start with the source, Harvard University, and the scholar, Francis James Child.
Francis James Child (1825-1896) was a Chaucerian scholar who is remembered primarily for the ballads he canonized (Ben-Amos 1973, 122). In 1857-1858, he published eight volumes of English and Scottish Ballads which were included in the series British Poets. This work was to become a lifelong concern, or as Child represented it, one of his religions. In a letter dated “Sunday Afternoon, April 24, 1887,” and written to a young lady of whom he was very fond, Child said, “Love of roses is another religion. . . . Do you mean to be shut out of the other superstitions? I have very few: love of women, roses, Shakspere, my friends, wild flowers, trees, violin music, voila!” (Child 1920, 55).1
Child’s work on the ballad followed his two years of study in Germany. In 1849, he went to the University of Berlin to hear Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm lecture; he also attended the University of Gottingen. Child himself remarked that the time in Berlin was a formative influence on his life (Bynum 1974, 24). His student and successor in ballad scholarship at Harvard, George Lyman Kittredge, said Child’s “own greatest contribution to learning, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, may even, in a very real sense, be regarded as the fruit of these years in Germany” (Kittredge 1898, xxv). Kittredge recalled an element in the decor of Child’s study that testified to the lasting impact of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Over the fireplace, Child had placed a picture of the Grimm brothers, and it remained there throughout his life.
Child himself was displeased with the eight volumes of the English and Scottish Ballads. In a letter dated March 26, 1872, written to the great Danish folklorist, Svend Grundtvig, Child alluded to these eight volumes as “a sort of job—forming part of one of those senseless huge collections of British Poets” (Hustvedt 1930, 246).2 Child told Grundtvig of his “intention of making some day a different and less hasty work” (Hustvedt 1930, 246). Indeed, as Kittredge related, Child determined to compile a corpus that would “include every obtainable version of every extant English and Scottish ballad, with the fullest possible discussion of related songs or stories in the ‘popular’ literature of all nations” (Kittredge 1898, xxvii). And, Kittredge tells us, “to this enterprise he resolved, if need were, to devote the rest of his life.”
This is precisely what Child did. An account of this dedication runs through A Scholar’s Letters to a Young Lady. On June 13,1888, he wrote, “I am just now kept with very sharp nerves by the necessity of printing up my book which ought to be done leisurely. I have the literature of the past two or three years to run through, but must print very soon” (Child 1920, 67). In a letter dated May 27, 1890, Child told of the assistance given him by his dear friend, James Russell Lowell. The latter wrote to Lord Rosebury on Child’s behalf, and requested permission to consult a valuable manuscript collection of ballads (Child 1920, 101-02).
Much time was spent endeavoring to obtain access to unpublished manuscripts of ballad collections. As Child wrote to Grundtvig, “There are . . . several manuscripts in existence which have never been printed and which I should wish by all means to get hold of: such as Herd’s and Mrs. Brown’s MSS., used by Jamieson and others, and a Glenriddel MS. referred to by Walter Scott” (Hustvedt 1930, 248).3
Great effort was made to obtain permission to examine one particular manuscript, the Percy Manuscript, at Ecton Hall. But the bishop’s descendants who had possession of the manuscript would allow no one to see it. Finally after eight years, the Percy Manuscript was published (Kittredge 1898, xxvii). And gradually, over the years, other manuscript collections became accessible. On August 8, 1890, Child wrote to his friend about the acquisition of one very important manuscript, “For a good many days I have not had a breathing-spell in consequence of my getting the things from Abbotsford, which have upset work which I supposed to be done, and so coming into embarrassment with my printers ...” (Child 1920, 102-03).4
The first volume of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads was published in 1882, and the remaining nine volumes appeared in the years following, until the last volume was published posthumously in 1898. Before its completion, the work began to wear on Child. On December 6, 1890, he wrote, “I am rid of a seventh ballad book and well into an eighth. I do not care now except to finish them, for the romantic things are all done” (Child 1920, 103). And a year later, on December 25, 1891, he wrote again, “I see my way to the end, and all I care about now is to have things in such shape that, in case of accident, the book might be complete” (Child 1920, 116). In 1893, he was still writing about finishing his ballad work, “I am getting slowly through with the last parcel of ballads (not the last number of the book, there will be one more of indexes, etc.) and shall be very glad to have it off my hands, for now it is only a necessity to me and no interest. There are other things which I should like to do” (Child 1920, 138). Yet his work on the ballad continued. In a letter dated “Monday Evening, 23rd December, 1895, he wrote “I am thoroughly weary of ballads . . . and feel no more interest in the business” (Child 1920, 147).
The work on the final volume of The English and Scottish Popular Ballad continued after his death. He died on September 11, 1896, after a month’s illness. All of volume 10 was completed save for the introduction and the bibliography, which was soon completed by Kittredge who remarked: “The introduction, however, no other scholar had the hardihood to undertake. A few pages of manuscript,—the last thing written by his pen,—almost illegible, were found among his papers” (Kittredge 1898, xxix). In place of the introduction, Kittredge wrote on Francis James Child’s ballad studies and the excellence of his teaching at Harvard.
Child had completed his life’s task; he had published his ten volumes of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. During his years of research, Child was haunted by one prospect. As he wrote to Grundtvig in January 24, 1880,”I have often been afraid of dying before 1879 ended. I want to live long enough to put the world in possession of all the English ballads, and find it necessary to say to myself that this is the only matter of essential importance” (Hustvedt 1930, 283).
Child’s corpus on the ballad has left a classic in folklore scholarship. The work is so crucial for ballad studies that folklorists cite the number of the “Child Ballad” as their point of reference. Throughout the course of his research, Child himself was consciously selecting ballad texts that would represent the purest form, the classic ballads. His orientation to the material was that of a scholar steeped in literature. He mistrusted oral versions and preferred manuscript sources.5
Child viewed the English and Scottish ballads “as sealed or dried up forever” (Hustvedt 1930, 248).6 Education—or what Child had referred to in his writings as Book-Culture—had spelled doom for this form of oral literature (Michael 1960, 33). Child, with a survivalist orientation, expected folklore to endure on the fringes of society, in nooks and crannies where time had passed the people by. As he remarked to his students, “the less book education [there is], the more hope, with persons of native intelligence, of a memory well stored with traditional treasures” (Michael 1960, 33).7 Thus Child anticipated that some ballads “must linger” on the Shetland Islands (Howe and Cottrell 1952, 44).
In 1873, he spent eight weeks in England and Scotland collecting ballads in manuscript form and from oral sources. He returned to this area in 1877. And on January 29, he wrote to Grundtvig, “I have now got all the manuscripts that are to be had, and I am trying to collect ballads that are left in Aberdeenshire, but I have no reason to wait longer” (Hustvedt 1930, 271). Clearly, Child viewed collecting from oral sources as a salvage operation: he was collecting the ballads that were left in Aberdeenshire.
Still, Child’s study of the ballad should not be reduced simply to a survivalist orientation. He had an aesthetic about the ballad that was linked to the force and beauty of life. In his letter to James Russell Lowell about the possibility of ballads existing on the Shetland Islands, he said, “There must be ballads there:—how else have the people held out against poverty, cold & darkness?” (Howe and Cottrell 1952, 45). The aesthetic sense guided him in determining what was or was not to be considered a popular ballad. Certainly, the broadside did not fit this category.
The vulgar ballads of our day, the “broadsides” which were printed in such large numbers in England and elsewhere in the sixteenth century or later, belong to a different genus; they are products of a low kind of art. and most of them are, from a literary point of view, thoroughly despicable and worthless.
(Hart 1906, 757).
Though Child did prefer working from old manuscripts and held in low esteem the material he collected in the field (Michael 1960, 71), still he encouraged his students to collect ballads. As he said,
If popular ballads are not soon collected, they will perish for ever from popular remembrance; and secondly . . . ballads which have never been found in England, but which are the delight and glory of other nations, may chance at any time to be encountered in the recollection of some utterly “uneducated” poor old woman.
(Michael 1960, 33)8
Child’s students did continue collecting and studying ballads. One such student was George Lyman Kittredge who returned to Harvard as an instructor of English in 1888, when Francis James Child was working on The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Birdsall 1973, 57). Kittredge worked closely with Child on this project; and, as noted, completed the work on volume 10 after Child’s death.
In addition to work on the ballad, Kittredge wrote scholarly articles on a variety of subjects. As his biographer noted, “Kittredge’s first learned article” (Hyder 1962, 33), appearing in 1885, showed both his interest in folklore and in classical studies: “Arm-Pitting among the Greeks,” published in the American Journal of Philology, appeared while Kittredge was still an instructor of Latin at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. Kittredge discussed the practice of mutilation of the dead; Greek murderers would sever the arms of their victims and fasten them to the body under the armpits, thereby making it impossible for the avenging spirit to harm the murderer (Kittredge 1885).9
Kittredge’s range of scholarly interest can be exemplified by the topics of his publications in the year 1904. Kittredge edited works on the ballad, the sonnets of Shakespeare, Virgil’s Aeneid, and a volume for the Albion Series of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English Poetry. The work on the ballad was the Student’s Cambridge Edition of Francis James Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads, a one volume work that was edited by Kittredge and Helen Child Sargent, Child’s daughter. Kittredge’s book on the farmer’s almanac, first published in 1904, was reprinted by Harvard University Press in 1920. The complete title was The Old Farmer and His Almanack: Being Some Observations on Life and Manners in New England a Hundred Years Ago Suggested by Reading the Earlier Numbers of Mr. Robert B. Thomas’s FARMER’S ALMANACK, Together with Extracts Curious, Instructive, and Entertaining, as well as a Variety of Miscellaneous Matter.
Kittredge viewed himself as part of the community of folklore scholars. He corresponded with others working in folklore, with Andrew Lang and with Franz Boas.10 Responding to an invitation of his former student, John A. Lomax, Kittredge lectured at the University of Texas, Austin, on April 3 and 4, 1913. He spoke on “The Study of Folk-Lore: Its Meaning and Value” at the third annual meeting of the Texas Folklore Society. Indeed, according to Lomax, it was Kittredge’s suggestion that was instrumental in the founding of this society (Hyder 1962, 117). And Kittredge wrote the preface to the first volume published by the Texas Folklore Society (1916), a volume that was edited by Stith Thompson, a former student of Kittredge (Hyder 1962, 198, n7).
In 1904, while he was president of the Modern Language Association and serving the fourth year of his seven year term as president of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (Thorpe 1948, 39, n10), Kittredge was elected president of the American Folklore Society. In 1911, Kittredge became first vice-president of the society, a position he retained until 1918. This latter appointment was part of Tozzer’s plan to enlist the aid of the literary folklorists in broadening the base of support for the society. Kittredge was recruited to the position of assistant editor of the Journal of American Folklore for the same reason. As Dixon said, “We want to get Kittredge if possible to be one of the Associate Editors, and see if we can’t get through him some material of the sort we used to have, which would enlist the interests of a wider circle, than the almost exclusively Indian material” (Boas Papers, Dixon to Boas, 11/18/1907).
Accepting the position, Kittredge was emphatic that he control the section of the journal under his supervision. His comments in letters were terse and cryptic. In 1912, he wrote to Boas to complain that a ballad article published in the journal had not been reviewed by him for publication: “If I am to be held in any manner responsible for the editing of the Journal, it is desirable (even requisite) that such articles as this should at least be seen by me before they are published. Put yourself in my place, and you will agree with me, I am sure” (Boas Papers, Kittredge to Boas, 10/29/1912). In another communication, Kittredge circled a sentence in Boas’s letter that related a comment by a member of the Romance Department at Columbia University concerning the quality of the work of a literary folklorist, and he scrawled at the bottom of the letter, “Whoever said this knows nothing about folklore, however much of a pundit he may be in other respects” (Boas Papers, Kittredge to Boas, 10/3/1912).
While active in the American Folklore Society, Kittredge was never a controlling force in the society. His crucial role in folklore studies was not within the organizational framework, but rather in his capacity as a professor at Harvard. A list of the courses he taught illustrates not only the range of his expertise, but also the areas that his students would pursue in later years. During alternate years, from 1889 to 1896, he taught Icelandic and Old Norse. Beginning in 1890, and continuing for more than twenty years, Kittredge taught a course in the Department of German on Germanic mythology. From 1892 on, Kittredge taught a graduate course on English metrical romances. He taught a course on Beowulf, and he was renowned for his course on Shakespeare. From 1903, on alternate years, Kittredge and Fred Norris Robinson jointly taught a course on Germanic and Celtic religions.11
Just as Kittredge continued the work begun by Child on The English and Scottish Popular Ballad. so he also carried on with the ballad course taught by Child. In 1894-1895 and 1895-1896, Francis James Child had lectured on “The English and Scottish Popular Ballad” at Harvard. George Lyman Kittredge continued the instruction of this course, teaching it on alternate years beginning in 1897 (Ben-Amos 1976, x).
Kittredge was scornful of the American emphasis on pedagogy. In response to an educator’s written request to audit his class, Kittredge replied:
Of course you may attend as many exercises in English 2 as you wish. However, you must not expect to get enlightenment from me on “methods of teaching.”. . . I believe that it is possible for any normal person to learn anything; but I am very skeptical of anybody’s ability to teach: that is, in the sense in which this verb is commonly understood by American students of “education.”
(Hyder 1962, 47-48)12
In another instance, a specialist in education asked Kittredge about the length of time he spent in preparing his lectures. At first, Kittredge refused to answer, saying it was his trade secret. And finally, he responded, “Just a lifetime—can’t you see that?” (Brown 1948, 65-69).
Kittredge, his methods of instruction, and his eccentric behavior formed the nucleus for the legends of “Kitty.” His biographer, Clyde Kenneth Hyder, paints a generous picture of Kittredge, reporting only the stories that reflected well on his image as a revered and esteemed professor. Stith Thompson was more honest in his appraisal of Kittredge, “I have seen him do inexcusable things in his Shakespeare class to humiliate students. . . . Kittredge always patronized his students, even the most advanced” (Thompson 1956, 58). Still, Thompson remembered Kittredge as “one of the greatest teachers” he had ever known (Upadhyaya 1968, 109). Kittredge offered Thompson kindness and encouragement with his dissertation, telling him that he might “come over to see him at any time without appointment” (Thompson 1956, 58). On one occasion, Kittredge asked to keep his dissertation. When he returned it to Thompson, he had rewritten two pages in long-hand. Thompson remarked, “I still have this long-hand pencil document among my precious possessions” (Upadhyaya 1968, 110).
Thompson recalled Kittredge’s method of instruction for his graduate seminars in Shakespeare and medieval romance. He would lecture and give assigned readings during the first semester. Yet, in order to take the class, the students “had to agree to come to his house every Wednesday evening during the second semester and read the papers which we had prepared.” Thompson continued:
I think one of the pleasant things that most of us remember about those Harvard days was the meeting together in this informal way in Professor Kittredge’s study on these Wednesday nights. He would have his birch fire going and have excellent cigars and even cigarettes, as he said, “for the weaker sisters.” The paper would be read and discussed somewhat languidly, and then Professor Kittredge himself would talk about it for perhaps half an hour.
(Thompson 1956, 58-59)
Historians of folklore studies are agreed, the courses taught by Child and Kittredge at Harvard were crucial for the development of folklore scholarship. Esther Birdsall, in her article “Some Notes on the Role of George Lyman Kittredge in American Folklore Studies,” says, “The influence of this course on American folklore activities cannot be overestimated” (Birdsall 1973, 58). And D. K. Wilgus, in Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship since 1898, remarks that Child and Kittredge had made Harvard the unofficial center of folksong study at the beginning of the century. “The direct and indirect influence of Harvard University produced results which, when archives and theses are eventually surveyed, will be truly staggering” (Wilgus 1959, 174). Ben-Amos notes that most contemporary university courses in folklore “are related directly and indirectly to [Child’s] teaching at Harvard at the end of the nineteenth century, and the courses offered by his disciple, George Lyman Kittredge” (Ben-Amos 1973, 122).
As is so often the case with great teachers, the contributions of Child and Kittredge to the field of folklore can be measured by the accomplishments of their students. To be sure, their scholarly works remain. But in terms of the development of folklore studies, it was the students, who left their classrooms and took their knowledge of folklore with them to other academic centers, who were to be the creators of the new discipline of folklore. The students of Child and Kittredge went from Harvard to the University of California, Berkeley; to the University of California, Los Angeles; to Ohio State University, Columbus; to the University of Texas, Austin; and to Indiana University, Bloomington. They continued the work of their mentors in the courses they taught at these institutions and the research they pursued. One must also acknowledge that these universities are among the leading centers in academic folklore research today.
Walter Morris Hart, who as an undergraduate had been a student of Francis B. Gummere (Thompson 1956, 49), was one of Kittredge’s early students. Hart went to the University of California, Berkeley where he taught a course on the English and Scottish ballad, Middle English language, and the epic (Thompson 1956, 49; Ben-Amos 1976, x). He continued his research on the relationship between the ballad and epic poetry.
Hart trained two outstanding folklore scholars, Stith Thompson and Sigurd Bernhard Hustvedt. Of his teaching, Thompson recalled that Hart followed Gummere’s and Kittredge’s communal theory of ballad origin—the idea that the ballad was created through the inspiration or spirit of the group.13 Thompson said, “I am certain that we were given the true doctrine.” And he continued, “Although I have come to disagree with his conclusions, the methods of stylistic analysis which he used for these ballads and epics, was [sic] so excellent that I still know of no better model to give my own students” (Thompson 1956, 49). Hart encouraged both Hustvedt and Thompson to continue their graduate work at Harvard under Kittredge’s instruction. The two, who had first met in Hart’s ballad class at Berkeley, roomed together in College House on Harvard Square and attended folklore classes together (Thompson 1956, 54).
Sigurd Bernhard Hustvedt completed his master’s thesis under Hart in 1912. It was entitled “The Popular Ballad in English and Danish.” At Harvard, Hustvedt continued his ballad studies under Kittredge’s direction from 1912 to 1915. He became a Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he remained until 1949 (Bynum 1974, 15). Hustvedt continued his research on ballad scholarship, producing the classic Ballad Books and Ballad Men (1930) and offering his first course in English ballads in 1933 (Wilgus 1976, xiii).
As Bynum notes in his article, “Child’s Legacy Enlarged: Oral Literary Studies at Harvard Since 1856,” Archer Taylor and Stith Thompson are “generally regarded as the founders of modern folklore scholarship” in the United States (Bynum 1974, 16). They first met at Harvard in 1912, and continued a professional relationship for the rest of their lives. In a humorous and touching aside, Bynum says, they vied “amicably with each other throughout their lives as to which of them would live longest and do most for folklore studies.” Bynum added “At this writing both are still living and their contest is undecided.” And then in a footnote, Bynum says, “Between the writing and publication of this paper, Archer Taylor died, 30 September 1973” (Bynum 1974, 16).
Archer Taylor (1890-1973) completed his undergraduate studies in humanities at Swarthmore in 1909, and his masters in German at the University of Pennsylvania in 1910. He became an instructor in German at Pennsylvania State College from 1910 to 1912; and then he returned to the student life at Harvard University from 1912 to 1915. He studied German literature with Kuno Francke and Albrecht Walz, and German philology with Hans Carl Gunther von Jagemann. Taylor also studied Old Norse under Fred Norris Robinson, and he worked with George Lyman Kittredge in ballad studies. Taylor formed important and lasting friendships with student colleagues. In addition to Stith Thompson, he met Taylor Starck in Germanic Studies; Sigurd Hustvedt and Arthur G. Brodeur in English and Germanic Philology.
After Taylor completed his dissertation on the Wolfdietrich epics in 1915, he accepted a teaching position at Washington University, which he held from 1915 until 1925. During these years, he worked as editor for the humanistic series of the “Washington University Studies.” It was while Taylor was at Washington University that he began his work on the proverb. His colleague in the German Department, Richard Jente, later edited the fifteenth-century corpus of Dutch and Low German proverbs, Proverbia Communia (Hand 1974, 5).
Taylor went to the University of Chicago in 1925 where he taught courses in literature, folklore, and bibliography. As the chairman of the Department of Germanic Languages, Taylor introduced folklore as one of the five fields of specialization for doctoral study, to be included with philology, older German literature, modern German literature, and Scandinavian languages and literatures (Hand 1974, 5). The Chicago years were important for Taylor. He published his classic work The Proverb in 1931. He worked with Tom Peete Cross in Celtic Studies, and William A. Nitze in Arthurian Studies.
Taylor arrived in Berkeley in 1939, and for the next eighteen years he taught in the German Department. He offered an upper-division “Introduction to Folk-Lore” which was listed in the 1939-1940 General Catalogue of the University of California as follows:
125. Introduction to Folk-Lore (3) II, MWF, 3 Taylor. Prerequisite: senior standing (for major students in anthropology, junior standing) and the ability to read one foreign language. A survey of the materials of popular tradition, the folk song, the folk tale, the proverb, the riddle, and other forms. The methods and results of investigation in this field will be presented.
(U. C. 1939, 266)
Taylor also taught a graduate course on “The Tale” which was described as “a survey of the types of popular narratives and of the theories of the origin and dissemination of tales” (University of California 1939, 267). There was also a course given on the German ballad and lyric poetry and the German folk song.
Taylor continued his work in ballad studies, the folktales, proverbs, and riddles. He wrote A Bibliography of Riddles (1939), and English Riddles in Oral Tradition (1961). He also edited the riddles in The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore (1952) (Hand 1974, 6).
Archer Taylor served as president of the American Folklore Society (1936-1937) and editor of the Journal of American Folklore (1941-1942). He was one of the founders of the California Folklore Quarterly. His achievements were recognized both in the United States and abroad. He was a fellow of the American Philosophical Society, the Medieval Academy of America, the American Folklore Society, and the Newberry Library in Chicago; he was a member of the Folklore of Ireland Society, the Folklore Society in London, the Finnish Literary Society, the Société Finno-Ougrienne, the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde, the Norsk Videnskabas-selskab, Gustav Adolfs Akademie for Folklivsforskining, and the Asociación folklórica argentina (Hand 1974, 8). He is honored even now with the annual Archer Taylor Memorial Lecture given at the California Folklore Society meetings.
Among the students of Archer Taylor were two whose work was crucial for the development of folklore: Ralph Steele Boggs and Wayland Debs Hand. Boggs went to the University of North Carolina as a professor of English, where he founded the folklore program (Boggs 1981). Hand, after completing his Ph.D. dissertation on “The Schnaderhupfel: An Alpine Folk Lyric” (1936), taught one year at the University of Minnesota (1936-1937). He then went to the University of California, Los Angeles (1937), and in 1940, he began teaching a course in German folklore (Wilgus 1967, xiii). Along with Hustvedt, he developed the interdisciplinary program in folklore (Wilgus 1967, xiii-xiv). In 1961, the Center for the Study of Comparative Folklore and Mythology was established, with Hand as the director until his retirement in 1974.
Wayland Hand was editor of volumes 6 (1961) and 7 (1964) of The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore. In 1966, these volumes, subtitled Popular Beliefs and Superstitions from North Carolina, were awarded the Giuseppe Pitre Folklore Prize, the first American works to be so honored (Wilgus 1967, xiii). Hand provided annotations with material from Canada and the United States. As he explained, this required recording 25,000 items on individual slips of paper, and eventually reducing them to 8,520 items (Hand 1961, ix). Hand noted that the work on the Frank C. Brown Collection would provide “the cornerstone” for the “Dictionary of American Popular Beliefs and Superstitions” (Hand 1964b, xviii). In 1944, Hand had begun gathering material for this dictionary (Hand 1980, xxiii). The files resulting from Hand’s collection and from bibliographic research, including the work on the Frank C. Brown Collection, contain approximately 675,000 primary entries and 815,000 cross references. These are located at the Center for the Study of Comparative Folklore and Mythology at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1985, Wayland Hand and Frances Cattermole-Tally began editing these files for a projected work, entitled Encyclopaedia of American Popular Beliefs and Superstitions, which will be a major reference source in this area of folklore.
Among other works by Wayland Hand are the following: A Dictionary of Words and Idioms Associated with Judas Iscariot (1942), which was awarded the Chicago Folklore Prize; American Folk Legend, a Symposium (1971); American Folk Medicine, a Symposium (1976); Magical Medicine, the Folkloric Component of Medicine in the Folk Belief, Custom, and Ritual of the Peoples of Europe and America (1980); Popular Beliefs and Superstitions: A Compendium of American Folklore from the Ohio Collection of Newbell Niles Puckett (1981). Also active in professional organizations, Hand was editor of the Journal of American Folklore from 1947 to 1951; president of the American Folklore Society from 1957 to 1958; and in 1960, he was chosen as a fellow of the society.
Stith Thompson (1885-1976) first became interested in folklore during his undergraduate study at the University of Wisconsin, where he wrote his thesis “The Return of the Dead in Folk Literature” (1909), under the supervision of Arthur Beatty. Thompson did his master’s work in English at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1911 to 1912. He took Walter Morris Hart’s course in Middle English language, and his seminar on the English and Scottish ballad. He wrote his master’s thesis on “The Idea of the Soul in Teutonic Popular Ballads and Literature” (1912).
An award of the Bonnheim Research Fellowship made it possible for Thompson to continue his graduate work at Harvard (1912-1915). In his memoir, Folklorist’s Progress, Stith Thompson recalled one particular class meeting of Kittredge’s “Medieval Romance”:
One morning he opened his discussion a propos of nothing with the following: “Gentlemen, I received today a letter from Dr. Pliny Earle Goddard, the California anthropologist who is now in Saskatchewan among the Chipewyan Indians. He had been collecting tales and he sent me two which he suspects may be of European origin. Now I should like to read one of these tales to you. It is called The Blue Band’.”
(Thompson 1956, 59)
Kittredge read the tale, and then remarked that he had been working on this narrative recently. He suggested that its center of distribution “seems quite certainly to be Rumania”; and he had located one version in Norway. Though he had never found a version from France, he suspected that perhaps the French influence would be important in Saskatchewan. He hypothesized that the Chipewyan had learned the tale from Scandinavians, And he continued, “But I should really like to know. It would be an excellent task for someone to investigate just what the American Indians have done with stories which they borrowed from the Europeans” (Thompson 1956, 59).
In this way, by hearing a chance comment made by Kittredge in his class on medieval romance, Stith Thompson determined not only the subject of his doctoral dissertation, but the topic for a lifetime of work—folktales among the North American Indians. Stith Thompson recalled how this decision was reached, “The next day I had a talk with him and it was agreed that I should try my hand at this study. I was to begin with a small group of northeast Indians, the Micmac, Maliseet and Abanaki group” (Thompson 1956, 60).
At the time of his research, neither he nor Kittredge were aware of the work that had been done in Finland on the types of the folktale by Antti Aarne. This tale-type index of European narratives would have greatly facilitated Thompson’s research. Years later, in 1920, Thompson looked through the new books in the Widener Library at Cambridge. He found Antti Aarne’s Verzeichnis der Märchentypen (The Types of the Folktale). “How much would I have not given to have this when I was working on my own thesis! It had appeared in 1910 but apparently had not yet come to the attention of American scholars” (Thompson 1956, 81). It was so important for Thompson’s research that he “made a longhand abstract of the whole thing” (Thompson 1956, 81). Thompson more than compensated for his initial bibliographic omission when, in later years, he revised The Types of the Folktale, and his name was joined with Aarne in hyphenated—even abbreviated—form as an indication of a folktale classification, the Aarne-Thompson or AT tale-type number.
After the completion of his work at Harvard, Thompson went to the University of Texas, Austin, as an English professor (1914-1918). He taught courses in English composition and literature. By serendipity, Thompson made contact with another of Kittredge’s students who was living in Austin. When he first arrived, he engaged two rooms in a house. He recalled, “I had no idea who my landlord was but it turned out to be John A. Lomax, whose work as a collector of cowboy songs I already knew from Harvard days” (Thompson 1956, 66). Alan Lomax was born in the house that winter while Thompson was staying there. Through Lomax’s invitation, Thompson attended the 1915 meeting of the Texas Folklore Society. He was elected secretary-treasurer; and he worked actively with the society during his remaining years in Texas (Thompson 1956, 69).
In 1921, Thompson was invited to Indiana University by his friend, John Rea. He made the trip to Bloomington and decided to take the position there. As he remarked, “I had a theory that no one should stay longer than four years at any university and get into a rut. At Bloomington I was to stay thirty-four” (Thompson 1956, 85).14 Thompson taught courses in English composition, literature, and twentieth century poetry (Thompson 1956, 139). He developed a seminar on literary origins. He also taught a course on the ballad and on medieval romance (Thompson 1956, 89).
In an interview conducted when he was 83, Thompson talked qf his professional self-view, “It must be remembered of course that I am primarily an English teacher and that folklore has always been an avocation” (Upadhyaya 1968, 110). Folklore, he said, was “a side issue” (Upadhyaya 1968, 117). His primary identification and his foremost concern in teaching was with English composition and literature. “When I came to Indiana University in 1921, it was not as a folklorist, but to supervise freshmen composition, which I did for the next fifteen years, until 1936” (Upadhyaya 1968, 111). And he added that it was only after he had been at Indiana for two years that he “had time to think about doing any work in folklore.” Then, in 1923, he was given permission to teach a new graduate seminar on any topic of his choice. He offered “The Folktale and Allied Forms.”15 This developed into his favorite course which he continued to teach throughout the years.
For his research on American Indian narratives, Thompson developed a method to call these tales to mind: he made “abstracts and notes covering thousands of cards, mostly four by six slips” (Thompson 1956, 62). This was the beginning of his interest in the basic elements, or motifs, that combine to form a narrative. When he looked over these notes, he
realized that no one had ever arranged such motifs in any logical order. . . . I can well remember the day when I said to myself that the study of these American Indian motifs must wait until I could have a chance to elaborate a classification on which to base the study. I thought it might take six months to classify such motifs as I already had.
(Thompson 1956, 89)
It was to take forty years to complete the project (Upadhyaya 1968, 111). And the scope of the undertaking was to expand. In the summer of 1924, Thompson showed his work to Archer Taylor, who “immediately saw the significance” of what he was doing (Thompson 1956, 89). Taylor convinced Thompson to broaden the scope of the classification. Rather than just covering the material that Thompson had in his notes, Taylor suggested the inclusion of “great areas of traditional literature that I had not thought of working on—the great mythologies, the mediaeval romances, the ballads, the oriental tale collections. . .” (Thompson 1956, 91). Thompson and Taylor did agree, however, that the original work on the motif classification should be finished. And Thompson completed this four-hundred page manuscript in 1924.
Archer Taylor was traveling to Finland in the summer of 1924 to visit with Kaarle Krohn, the great scholar of the folktale. Taylor carried along Thompson’s manuscript to show to Krohn. The latter read it, and was very impressed with Thompson’s plan for a motif-index. Taylor wrote to Thompson, conveying this encouraging news, but adding that Krohn had a request to make of Thompson. Kaarle Krohn’s ablest student, Antti Aarne, had died suddenly, and his planned revision of The Types of the Folktale had not been effected (Upadhyaya 1968, 111-12). Krohn thought that Thompson would be the appropriate person to undertake this revision. “One has only to realize how basic this list had been in the study of the international folktale to know how important the invitation was to me” (Thompson 1956, 93). He accepted, and his work on the motif index overlapped with his revision of Aarne’s The Types of the Folktale.
In 1926-1927, Thompson traveled to Europe and to Scandinavia to work on the revision of the Antti Aarne Verzeichnis der Märchentypen. Together, Kaarle Krohn and Stith Thompson worked on the plans for the revised tale-type index. “We agreed that the original index-numbers were not to be disturbed but I was left with a great deal of discretion as to just how I should revise the work” (Thompson 1956, 96). This work was published by the Folklore Fellows Communication in 1928 as The Types of the Folktale: Antti Aarne’s “Verzeichnis der Märchentypen,” Translated and Enlarged. Seven years later, at the 1935 Congress for the Study of the Folktale, in Lund, Sweden, a session was devoted to the revision of the index. It was suggested that the tales of the Mediterranean, the Near East, and India should be included (Thompson 1956, 132). This second revision appeared in 1961 as The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography: Antti Aarne’s “Verzeichnis der Märchentypen,” Translated and Enlarged.
For Tales of the North American Indians (1929), Thompson selected narratives that would represent most of the motifs characteristic of the Indians’ tales. “For every type of tale among the Indians, some ninety-six, I tried to choose the best-told of the versions. Then at the proper place I made a note of any motifs that I cared to discuss” (Thompson 1956, 93). In his review, Franz Boas found “the value of the book for the student of American folklore ... in the very full comparative notes.” These, he said, “will be an indispensable source for anyone who wishes to study the distribution of incidents of North American folklore” since Thompson had collected and expanded on all of the available concordances (Boas 1930, 223-24).
An account of the unending work on the Motif-Index of Folk Literature runs through Thompson’s memoir, Folklorist’s Progress. In April 1928, Thompson noted that he had completed the preliminary arrangement of the index into the twenty-three chapters and he was ready to begin the sorting of the slips of paper. “By the end of the School year in June of 1929 I had finished the F chapter.” “By the beginning of 1930 I finished the H chapter and during the following spring completed J.” And in the fall of 1930, he “finished K chapter of the Index” and had completed the fourth volume (Thompson 1956, 107-11). In 1935, Thompson recalled, “I was racing against time so as to finish the last stroke on the Motif-Index by my fiftieth birthday. Early in March, about three or four days before that eventful moment, I was able to say that the whole job was now complete” (Thompson 1956, 126). He had finished the six volumes of the Motif-Index of Folk Literature.
In his life’s work on the folktale, Thompson remained true to the responsibility passed on to him by Kaarle Krohn. In 1927, when Thompson was completing his revision of The Types of the Folktale and preparing to return to the United States, Krohn talked with Thompson about his plans for the future. Thompson recalled, “He gave me to understand that he was counting on me strongly to carry on the work in folktale scholarship not only in another country but also in a new age” (Upadhyaya 1968, 114). The next day Krohn recalled his own visit in 1883 to Reinhold Kohler, the Ducal Librarian in Weimar, the renowned folktale scholar of the nineteenth century. Kohler told Krohn, “Dr. Krohn, I am now an old man. I have spent many years working on the folktale but now I can do very little more. It is to you that I look for carrying on these researches in your generation.” Krohn turned to him and said, “I hope you remember what I said to you yesterday” (Thompson 1956, 105). So, in truth, the line of expertise on folktale scholarship passed from Reinhold Kohler to Kaarle Krohn to Stith Thompson.
With his research on American Indian narratives, Thompson provided a link between the literary folklorists and the anthropological folklorists. While conducting research on European tales among the American Indians, Thompson spent much time at the Peabody Museum Library. Here, as he said, he made his “first contact with anthropologists”; he met Roland B. Dixon and Alfred M. Tozzer. Thompson noted, “Dixon gave me real help toward my thesis and some suggestions toward anthropological methods” (Thompson 1956, 62). When Tales of the North American Indians appeared in 1929, Thompson gained recognition trom anthropologists. As he said, “This work strengthened my ties with the anthropology teachers over the country and became a standard part of all of the anthropology libraries” (Thompson 1956, 109).
In “Recollections of an Itinerant Folklorist,” which was an address delivered to the Texas Folklore Society on May 20, 1956, Stith Thompson gave an appraisal of his work in folklore. He said he had spent his time working on indexes and classifications in order to facilitate the process of archiving material (Thompson 1957, 120). “I am quite unblushing in admitting that I have never collected any folklore myself. I have been out with collectors, for I like to go along and see them gather material. But I recognize that collecting has its own techniques and I know that I would bungle things very badly” (Thompson 1957, 121). As a contrast to his approach, Thompson spoke of Vance Randolph, who was “a great collector. . . . But he was honest enough to say when he received my Motif-Index that he would never try to annotate his stories. ‘I should have made an unholy mess of it. . . if I had tried that’ ” (Thompson 1957, 121).
Like Stith Thompson, Francis Lee Utley (1907-1974) did his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin where he received his bachelor of arts degree in 1929. He went on to Harvard, completing his master’s degree in 1934, and his doctorate in 1936. Utley took a position as Professor of English at Ohio State Univeristy in 1935 and remained there for the next thirty-nine years. Through his research and publications, he established an international reputation (Finnie 1975, 127). His interests in folklore and medieval literature were manifested in the courses he taught and the library he amassed, twenty-one thousand volumes which were bequeathed to Ohio State University.
Utley’s success in establishing folklore studies at Ohio State University was recognized by his colleagues when they voted to confer upon him the title created specifically for him, Professor of English and Folklore (Finnie 1975, 128). Yet this success did not come easily. As Utley himself remarked, he had to jump “countless hurdles” before he could establish “one introductory course in folklore. . . . At one time, indeed, I estimated that I had fourteen ex-students teaching the subject in American colleges before I had one course at my own institution” (Utley 1970, 111). Utley did, however, succeed in bringing folklore instruction to Ohio State University. He established the folklore program and the Folklore Archives (Finnie 1975, 127). In addition to “Introduction to Folklore,” Utley taught a seminar on “Arthurian Literature and International Folklore.”
Utley was an outstanding teacher, one who conveyed the enthusiasm he felt for the material. W. Bruce Finnie recalled that “to hear Professor Utley read and discuss the ending of Chaucer’s masterwork [Troilus and Criseyde] was an emotional as well as an intellectual experience” (Finnie 1975, 128). Utley took pride in the accomplishments of his students. He named James Tidwell, Edson Richmond, D. K. Wilgus, and Bruce Rosenberg as those who had “gone on to do systematic research and teaching in the field” (Utley 1970, 111).
Utley published extensively on medieval literature and folklore. In The Crooked Rib (1944), he examined medieval attitudes toward women. He contributed to biblical studies with his work on the Bible and folklore, and the flood narrative, and to Chaucerian study. The bibliograhy of Utley’s writings includes over two hundred entries (Amsler 1975).
In addition to his expertise as a literary folklorist, Utley also had a secure grasp on anthropological folklore. In his outstanding article, “The Migration of Folktales: Four Channels to the Americas” (1974), Utley exhibited a control of the literature—folkloristic, linguistic, and anthropological—that was truly formidable. Utley examined the possible routes of diffusion of the folktale: (1) from Northeast Asia across the Bering Strait, (2) from Southeast Asia across the Pacific Islands, (3) from Europe across the North Atlantic, and (4) from Africa across the South Atlantic. As Dundes remarked in his commentary on the article,
Utley’s survey is truly a tour de force. The scholarship pertinent to each of the four proposed channels is simply immense, and yet Utley moves with apparent ease from Polynesian to African sources. One wonders how many anthropologists could return the favor by surveying the intricacies of medievalliterature scholarship!
(Dundes 1974, 16)
There are others whose contributions were vital and lasting. Fred Norris Robinson, a student of Child and Kittredge, received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1894. Following the advice of his mentors, he went to Freiburg, Germany to specialize in Celtic Studies. The two Harvard professors were hoping to groom Robinson to fill the void in this field at their university Their plan succeeded. Robinson returned to Harvard in 1896, and remained until 1939. Stith Thompson spoke of Fred Norris Robinson with esteem: “He carried on to us the tradition of the Harvard of Francis James Child, the great ballad scholar. He had studied Irish and the other Celtic languages in Europe and had come back and, almost singlehanded introduced Celtic studies into America” (Thompson 1956, 55).
John A. Lomax (1867-1948) was the enthusiastic folksong collector. When he was a small boy, he began collecting cowboy songs, and when he left his family farm to attend Granbury College, “he carried a small roll of cowboy songs, tied with a cotton string” (Michael 1960, 11). Lomax was still interested in cowboys and their music when he was a student at Harvard University. In 1906, for his class in American literature, Lomax asked Professor Wendell’s permission to write a paper on cowboy songs. Wendell directed him to Kittredge. And under Kittredge’s tutelage, Lomax began collecting songs seriously (Michael 1960, 11). Kittredge helped his student obtain three summer fellowships from Harvard for fieldwork (McNeil 1980, 551).
John Lomax received his M.A. from Harvard in 1907. (He had already received the same degree from the University of Texas in 1906.) He returned to Texas where, along with T. W. Payne, he founded the Texas Folklore Society in 1909 (Michael 1960, 11-12). He was president of the American Folklore Society from 1912 to 1913, and Honorary Curator of the Folk Song Library in 1934. Throughout his life, he continued to collect folksongs. His work stands as a tribute to what a true fieldworker and dedicated person can do. He was innovative in his collecting methods. Among other approaches, he used newspaper appeals which yielded quantities of ballads. He also found success by attending auctions and bidding on old trunks that contained copies of ballad texts (Michael 1960, 22-23). But nothing, Lomax emphasized, replaced personal contact with the people to whom the songs belonged.16
Milman Parry was another outstanding student of Kittredge. Parry’s work on the Yugoslavian epics stirred the academic world. He brought forward the suggestion that the Illiad and the Odyssey had been created by oral tradition. He studied the Yugoslav singers of tales in order to ascertain how such a rich epic tradition could be recorded in memory and passed orally (Bynum 1974, 29). For fifteen months in 1934 and 1935, Parry collected Yugoslavian epics throughout the Slavic-speaking regions of the western Balkans. He used aluminum discs, a new recording technique. This extensive epic collection is preserved in the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature at Harvard University. There are over 12,500 individual texts and 3,000 recorded twelve inch aluminum discs. (See also Bynum 1974, 29; Lord 1960, 279, n2.)
Parry returned from Yugoslavia in 1935, with plans for a major work on epic singers. He died after he had written the first few pages (Lord 1960, 279, n1).17 Parry’s student, Albert Lord, continued the work. In 1937, Lord went to Albania under the auspices of the Society of Fellows at Harvard to collect epic poetry. He traveled to Yugoslavia in 1950 and 1951, and to Bulgaria in 1958 (Lord 1960, ii).
In 1960, Lord published his book on epic singers, a consideration of “the manner in which they learn, and transmit their epics.” It was entitled The Singer of Tales, the same title that his mentor, Parry, had intended to use for his work. The opening lines show the orientation of both Parry and Lord: “This book is about Homer. He is our singer of tales.” Lord continued, “Among the singers of modern times there is none equal to Homer, but he who approaches the master most closely in our experience of epic song is Avdo Mededovic of . . . Yugoslavia. He is our present-day Balkan Singer of Tales” (Lord 1960, i).
According to oral formulaic theory, epic poetry is created through the use of oral formulas, “groups of words” that are used following “the same metrical conditions to express a given essential idea” (Lord 1960, 30). As Lord explained, the singer learned his art from others, and also learned oral formulaic patterns. Thus, the formula “mounting the horse” appeared in the repertoire of many epic singers.
“By Allah,” he said, he mounted the white horse.
“By Allah,” he said, he mounted the brown horse.
“By Allah,” he said, he mounted the animal.
And he said this, he mounted the brown horse.
And he said this, he mounted the animal.
(Lord 1960, 48)
The songs were built around certain traditional themes, which were formulated through “a grouping of ideas” (Lord 1960, 69). Lord gave an example of the theme of the council in the “Song of Bagdad.” The sultan received a letter from his field commander who had been laying siege to Bagdad for twenty years without success. He called his councilors together and asked their advice. He received good advice from one, and evil advice from the other. “And the theme is concluded with the writing of an imperial letter to Bosnia and dispatch of the messenger” (Lord 1960, 68). Through the use of themes and oral formulas, the singer of tales created their epics.
Three leading folklorists, MacEdward Leach, Louise Pound, and Aurelio Espinosa, did not follow the pattern of the foregoing scholars who came to folklore through the influence of Child and Kittredge. MacEdward Leach (1896-1967) became interested in folklore through his work in Middle English literature, which he studied at the University of Illinois (B. A. 1916; M.A. 1917). During the First World War, he taught at the Johns Hopkins University, and then returned to graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his doctorate in 1930. Here he was influenced by Cornelius Weygandt and Frank Speck, with whom he later did field-work in the Delmarva Peninsula (Greenway 1968, 105).
Leach was trained as a philologist and a medievalist as is illustrated by his Paris and Vienne and the homage volume for Albert Baugh (Utley in Greenway 1968, 119). Through his early work in medieval literature, he was drawn to ballad studies. Leach recalled his first course in the ballad, which he took at the University of Illinois.
[My professor] had the mistaken idea that ballads were something you dance to. . . . After an afternoon of class work we were taken out behind the auditorium on the greensward. And, this teacher had the idea that you didn’t dance folk dances with your shoes on, and so we all had to peel off our shoes and stockings, boys and girls, singing “Lord Randall” and “My son Edward.”
(Glassie in Greenway 1968, 107)18
Leach’s publications in this field include The Ballad Book (1955), The Critics of the Ballad (1961), co-edited with Tristan P. Coffin, and Folk Ballads and Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast (1965).
MacEdward Leach dedicated himself to folkore studies, both in academe and in the professional societies. He sustained the American Folklore Society through its years of insecurity. Richard Dorson remarked, “For many years he was in effect the Society” (Dorson in Greenway 1968, 103).19 As William Fenton expressed it, “His central purpose in life seemed to be to improve folklore as a field” (Fenton in Greenway 1968, 105). And for this, he used his energy and his good humor. MacEdward Leach recalled the surreptitious manner in which folklore courses were introduced into the curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania. This was done, Leach said, “by devious methods of one sort or other.”
We had a man there years ago who taught a course called “Epic and the Short Story.” He died prematurely and I inherited the course and gradually eased it away from epic and from short story into general folklore and folktale. The English department didn’t know that I was teaching folklore and folktale; they thought I was still teaching “Epic and the Short Story.”
(Glassie in Greenway 1968, 107)
Still another course fell to MacEdward Leach, this one on the ballad as poetry. “But gradually the course edged away toward what a ballad is, namely, a folksong” (Glassie in Greenway 1968, 108). He continued to teach the course “Early English Literature” (MacFadden in Greenway 1968, 116), and the “Arthurian Legend” which was the last course he taught before his retirement (Johnson in Greenway 1968, 113).
In his tribute to MacEdward Leach, Wayland Hand wrote, “Great as was his work as a field collector and scholar in folklore, MacEdward Leach will be remembered as one of the most successful teachers of folklore in the country” (Hand 1968, 43-44). Among his students are the following: Tristram P. Coffin, G. Malcolm Laws, Edith S. Krappe, Horace P. Beck, William E. Simeone, John Greenway, David Fowler, Ellen Stekert, Kenneth S. Goldstein, Roger Abrahams, and Archie Green (Hand 1968, 44). His students recalled Leach’s ability to hold a class, both through his erudition and his charisma. Helen Sewell Johnson said that he had a “vast experiencing power” (Sewell in Greenway 1968, 112).
Louise Pound (1872-1958) was a native of Lincoln, Nebraska, and it was here that she stayed, save for summer study at the University of Chicago (1897, 1898), and a year at Heidelburg where she took her doctorate (1900). Pound entered the University of Nebraska as a student in 1886; she remained there as a professor until her retirement in 1945.
Benjamin Botkin, a student of Louise Pound, said, “She was equally at home in the fields of American literature, linguistics, folklore, and folksong” (Botkin 1959, 201). She worked actively with the American Dialect Society, serving as vice-president (1927-1937) and president (1938-1944). She viewed dialect studies as a branch of folkore. Pound also worked with the American Folklore Society, as president (1925-1927) and councilor in the years following. She was advisory editor of Folk-Say (1929-1930) and of the Southern Folklore Quarterly (1939-1958). In 1924, the Texas Folklore Society made her a life member (Botkin 1959, 201).
Pound’s interest in folklore grew out of her Nebraskan heritage. This is reflected in Nebraska Folklore (1959), a book of collected papers published posthumously by the University of Nebraska Press. Botkin said of her, “She was a staunch opponent of mystical and romantic theories of the ‘folk mind’ and communal origins” (Botkin 1959, 201). She directed her Poetic Origins and the Ballad (1921) “to the systematic and documented refutation” of these theories.
Botkin remembered her, above all, as a teacher. “With her, teaching was a way of life that became a part of the lives of her graduate students, who treasure her memory as a guide, philosopher, and friend” (Botkin 1959, 202). In response to a reporter’s question on the eve of her retirement, Louise Pound said, “I believe the pleasantest thing that has happened to me is that I’ve had a number of books dedicated to me (Botkin 1959, 202).
Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa (1880-1958) came to folklore on his own, through his interest in the Hispanic culture of the Southwest. He did his undergraduate and master’s work at the University of Colorado (B. A. 1902, M.A. 1904), and took a position as professor of modern languages at the University of New Mexico. Espinosa received his doctorate from the University of Chicago in romance languages and literatures, with a minor in Indo-European philology (Espinosa, J. M. 1985, 14). He completed his Ph.D. in 1910. His dissertation, “Studies in New-Mexican Spanish,” appeared in three parts between 1909 and 1914 in the Révue de Dialectologie Romane. In 1910, he took a position at Stanford University where he remained for the rest of his life (Espinosa, J. M. 1978, 222-23). Espinosa organized a graduate program and directed fifty master’s theses and twelve doctoral dissertations, many of which focused on folklore and dialectology (Espinosa, J. M. 1985, 15).
Espinosa’s interest in collecting a wide range of folklore is reflected in a letter he wrote to Boas in 1913:
I just returned a few days ago from the southern part of California and I find that the field in Cal. is as abundant & valuable as in N. Mex. I found ten versions of five old Spanish ballads, a large collection of nursery rhymes, some 50 riddles, proverbs, and 100 versos, various other popular songs & modern ballads, some old prayers, and several short stories, one long folktale . . . and other material.
(Boas Papers, Espinosa to Boas, 9/3/1913)20
Espinosa collected folktales and ballads in the Southwest; and then, sponsored by Elsie Clews Parsons, he carried his work to Spain in 1920. In 1923-1926, he published the results of this work in the three volume Cuentos populares españoles (Espinosa, J. M. 1978, 223; Fife 1960, 98). Augmenting his work in Spanish folktales was his research in Spanish ballads, called romances tradicionales or corridos (Espinosa 1985). He also researched proverbs, folk theatre, folk drama, and children’s games.
Espinosa was active in folklore societies. He served as president of the American Folklore Society in 1924-1925, and as associate editor of the Journal of American Folkore for a number of years beginning in 1914. He was associate editor of Western Folklore from 1947 to 1953, and consulting editor of the New Mexico Quarterly from 1930 to 1936, and helped with the establishment of the New Mexico Folklore Society in 1931 (Espinosa, J. M. 1985, 16-17).
In focusing on the growth within academia—the passing on of the scholarly tradition from Child to Kittredge to their students—it should not be assumed that all of the important contributions of the literary folklorists have been presented. There are those individuals who carried on their research outside of academia but whose work had an impact on the development of folklore studies. Dan Ben-Amos emphasizes this point: “The struggle over the control of the centers of scholarly activities should not overshadow the role of the individual in the advancement of the discipline” (Ben-Amos 1973, 123). One such individual was Alexander Haggerty Krappe (1894-1947). His early schooling was in England, Holland, and Germany where he studied romance languages and medieval history. Krappe did his undergraduate work at the University of Berlin, received his masters at the University of Iowa (1917), and his doctorate at the University of Chicago (1919). Krappe was devoted to folklore scholarship; he looked to folklore to reconstruct the history of humankind. Krappe’s orientation to folklore was literary. Yet he viewed folklore as a science, because the inductive method was used. Krappe’s theoretical outlook was conservative nineteenth century; he ignored much of anthropological theory. From his rigid European perspective, Krappe denied that American folklore existed.
A large factor in his peripheral position in American folklore studies had to do with his irascible personality. Though a brilliant scholar—able to write with facility in English, French, and German—and author of The Science of Folklore, Krappe was not successful in holding any of his numerous academic appointments long. He was outspoken, flamboyant, and abrasive.21
There are many other literary folklorists who merit attention, and whose lives and works are woven into the fabric of American folkloristics. But following the pattern which has been selected in this chapter, the focus has been on the literary folklorists in their position within academia. In truth, these scholars often attained positions of power and control. This was certainly the case with Child, Kittredge, Thompson, Taylor, Hand, Leach, and Utley. As leaders in their fields of literature and folklore, and as respected members of their departments, these men were in a position to encourage young students and to train them. In effect, then, they created a following, a body of students who continued to research, to elaborate, and to add to the concerns and ideas of their mentors.
It is important to recognize that there are differing arenas of activity within American folkloristics. In the previous chapter, the jockeying for power—especially editorial power—within the American Folklore Society was examined. And it was concluded that until 1940, the anthropological folklorists maintained control over the major activities of the society and the publications of the journal. In this chapter, the formation of a school of literary folklorists who developed and perpetuated an academic tradition was discussed. Hence there was the activity in the organizational arena, which encompassed the struggle for power in the American Folklore Society, and the activity in the academic arena, which perpetuated a scholarly tradition of folkloristic study.
If one considers the organizational and the academic arenas as two legitimate circles in which American folkloristics developed, then the complexity of the past is recognized and the tendency to iron out the wrinkles of this complexity in favor of a single-line progression of power is avoided. It is simply not the case, as Michael Bell claims, that the demise of the Chicago Folklore Society “eliminated the sole forum in the United States for the concept of folklore as a form of literature and effectively halted for some forty years the widespread promulgation of this concept by American folklorists” (Bell 1973, 20). It is true that the demise of the Chicago Folklore Society was the end of an organizational forum for literary folklorists, but, as noted in this chapter, the literary folklorists did not remain silent for forty years. They were active as teachers and as scholars in academia.