Public folklore
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Public folklore is the term for the work done by
folklorists Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or folk life studies in the United Kingdom, is the branch of anthropology devoted to the study of folklore. This term, along with its synonyms, gained currency in ...
in public settings in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
outside of universities and colleges, such as arts councils,
museums A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is a building or institution that Preservation (library and archival science), cares for and displays a collection (artwork), collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, culture, c ...
, folklife festivals, radio stations, etc., as opposed to academic folklore, which is done within universities and colleges. The term is short for ''"public sector folklore"'' and was first used by members of the
American Folklore Society The American Folklore Society (AFS) is the United States, US-based professional association for folklorists, with members from the US, Canada, and around the world, which aims to encourage research, aid in disseminating that research, promote th ...
in the early 1970s.


Scope of work

Public folklorists are engaged with the documentation, preservation, and presentation of traditional forms of
folk art Traditional styles of faience pottery from Székely Land, Romania, on sale in Budapest in 2014. A conventional idea of folk art, though no doubt made in quasi-industrial conditions. Folk art covers all forms of visual art made in the context ...

folk art
s,
craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a historical sense, particularly the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself wit ...
,
folk music Folk music is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, althoug ...

folk music
, and other genres of traditional
folklife Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...
. In later years, public folklorists have also become involved in economic and community development projects. Public folklorists also work in "folk arts in the schools" programs, presenting master traditional artists to primary and secondary schools in demonstrations and residencies. They develop apprenticeship programs to foster the teaching of traditional arts by recognized masters. They also present traditional music on radio programs such as ''
American Routes ''American Routes'' is a weekly two-hour public radio program that presents the breadth and depth of the American musical and cultural landscape. Hosted by Nick Spitzer, ''American Routes'' is syndicated by 225 stations, with over half a million l ...
'' on
Public Radio International Public Radio International (PRI) was an American public radio Public broadcasting involves radio Radio is the technology of signaling and communicating Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of devel ...
. Occasionally they produce
documentary film A documentary film or documentary is a non-fictional film, motion-picture intended to "document reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a Recorded history, historical record". Bill Nichols (film critic), Bi ...
s on aspects of traditional arts; Smithsonian folklorist Marjorie Hunt won an
Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry The film industry or motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking F ...

Academy Award
for her 1984
short documentary Short may refer to: Places * Short (crater), a lunar impact crater on the near side of the Moon * Short, Mississippi, an unincorporated community * Short, Oklahoma, a census-designated place People * Short (surname) * List of people known as t ...
film '' The Stone Carvers'' about the carvers at the
National Cathedral The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, commonly known as Washington National Cathedral, is an American cathedral of the Episcopal Church (United States), Episcopal Church. The cathedral is lo ...

National Cathedral
in Washington, D.C. Public folklore graduate students at
Memorial University Memorial University of Newfoundland, also known as Memorial University or MUN (), is a public university in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, based in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's, with satellite campuses in Corner ...
have worked on a variety of community projects including seniors and traditional games, a museum exhibit based on a local neighbourhood, a festival of historic boat engines, lunch baskets used by paper mill workers, and
rugelach Rugelach ( ; yi, ראָגעלעך ''rōgeleḵ'' and he, רוגלך ''rōgalaḵ'') is a filled pastry product originating in the Jewish communities Jewish ethnic divisions refer to many distinctive communities within the world's Ethnicit ...

rugelach
making.


Public folklore in the United States of America

In the US,
Archie Green Archie Green (June 29, 1917 – March 22, 2009) was an American folklorist Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or folk life studies in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great B ...
is generally credited as the founder of the public folklore movement, although his work builds on that of
Ben Botkin Benjamin Albert Botkin (February 7, 1901 – July 30, 1975) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of Am ...
and
Alan Lomax Alan Lomax (; January 31, 1915 – July 19, 2002) was an American ethnomusicologist Ethnomusicology is the study of music from the cultural and social aspects of the people who make it. It encompasses distinct theoretical and methodical a ...

Alan Lomax
, going back as far as the 1930s. (They called their work "
applied folklore Applied folklore is the branch of folkloristics concerned with the study and use of folklore and traditional culture, cultural materials to address or solve real social problems. The term was coined in 1939 in a talk by folklorist Benjamin A. Botk ...
," a related but distinct paradigm.) Public folklore in the US can be traced back to the creation of the
American Folklife Center The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. ...
at the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order ...

Library of Congress
in 1970, by an act of
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity ...
, sponsored by Sen.
Ralph Yarborough Ralph Webster Yarborough (June 8, 1903 – January 27, 1996) was an American politician and lawyer. He was a Texas Democratic Party (United States), Democratic politician who served in the United States Senate from 1957 to 1971 and was a leader o ...
(D-TX) and written by Green and then-Senate aide
Jim Hightower James Allen Hightower (born January 11, 1943) is an American syndicated columnist, Progressivism in the United States, progressive political activist, and author. From 1983 to 1991 he served as the elected commissioner of the Texas Department of ...
. Other national programs were later established at the
Smithsonian Institution The Smithsonian Institution ( ), or simply, the Smithsonian, is a group of museums and education and research centers, the largest such complex in the world, created by the U.S. government "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". Founded ...

Smithsonian Institution
and the
National Endowment for the Arts The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent agency of the United States federal government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United ...
(NEA), where prominent folklorists such as
Ralph Rinzler Ralph Rinzler (July 20, 1934 – July 2, 1994) was an American mandolin player, folksinger, and the co-founder of the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall every summer in Washington, D.C., where he worked as a curator for American ar ...
, Alan Jabbour, and
Bess Lomax Hawes Bess Lomax Hawes (January 21, 1921 – November 27, 2009) was an American folk music Folk music includes #Traditional folk music, traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of f ...
worked. Funding programs were established in the 1970s and 1980s in over 40 state arts councils, and these facilitated the eventual creation or funding of major non-profit centres for
folklife Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...
documentation and presentation, such as
City Lore City Lore: the New York Center for Urban Culture was founded in 1986 and was the first organization in the United States devoted expressly to the "documentation, preservation, and presentation of urban folk culture." Their mission is to produce pr ...
and the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York, Texas Folklife Resources,
Northwest Folklife Northwest Folklife is an independent 501(c)(3) arts organization that celebrates the multigenerational arts, cultures, and traditions of a global Pacific Northwest. The Northwest Folklife Festival is an annual festival of ethnic, folk, and tradit ...
, the Western Folklife Center, and the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The Smithsonian Institution features the Smithsonian Folklife Festival every June and July which attracts upwards of two million people to hear live performances and view demonstrations of traditional crafts. Each year, some 15 outstanding American folk artists and performers are awarded National Heritage Fellowships from the NEA for their lifetime achievement. Some more widely known awardees over the years have included John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Clifton Chenier, Earl Scruggs, Michael Flatley, Shirley Caesar, Albertina Walker, Carter Family, Janette Carter, Koko Taylor, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Jean Ritchie, Sunnyland Slim, Lydia Mendoza, Boozoo Chavis, Zakir Hussain (musician), Zakir Hussain, Helen Cordero, Margaret Tafoya, Santiago Jiménez, Jr., John Cephas, Bois Sec Ardoin, Mick Moloney, Clarence Fountain Five Blind Boys of Alabama, & the Blind Boys, Esther Martinez, and the Dixie Hummingbirds.


Public folklore in Canada

The evolution of public folklore in Canada has followed a different course than in the United States, with folklore scholarship stimulated more by local social, political, and economic factors than by international trends in scholarship. This can be seen as part of a "distinctively Canadian" approach to folkloristics. One early attempt to bring folklore scholarship into the public sphere was the establishment of the short-lived Canadian Folk-Lore Society in Toronto in 1908 under the leadership of David Boyle (archaeologist), David Boyle, archaeologist and director of the Ontario Museum, and there have been strong links between museology and public folklore in Canada ever since. Other early attempts included the development of the ''Alberta Folk-Lore and Local History Project'' in 1944–45, and the establishment of the Canadian Folk Music Society in 1957, under the leadership of Marius Barbeau, who has been described as Canada's first public sector folklorist. Following the 1968 establishment of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Memorial University of Newfoundland's Department of Folklore by Herbert Halpert, and the creation of MUNFLA by Halpert and Violetta Maloney Halpert, Violetta Halpert, graduate programs in folklore studies at Memorial included occasional courses on applied folklore designed and taught by folklorist Neil Rosenberg prior to his retirement in 2004. Graduate Shelley Posen, Sheldon Posen became Curator of Canadian Folklife at the Canadian Museum of History, Canadian Museum of Civilization, curating exhibits such as the virtual exhibition ''Canada in a Box: Cigar Containers that Store Our Past 1883-1935'' and an exhibit on Canadian hockey player Maurice Richard, "Rocket" Richard; graduate Michael Taft went on to develop public folklore projects such as ''Discovering Saskatchewan Folklore;'' graduate Richard MacKinnon, who held the position as Canada Research Chair in Intangible Cultural Heritage, has worked on numerous public folklore projects. As of 2020, Memorial's Department of Folklore remains the country's only comprehensive Anglophone folklore program. In 1976, under the direction of historian Jean Hamelin, Université Laval, Laval University created the ''Centre d'Etudes sur la Langue, les Arts et les Traditions Populaire des Francophones d'Amerique du Nord'' (CELAT) which produced a large number of ethnology graduates who went on to work in the domains of archeology, conservation, and historical research, or with numerous research institutes, museums, interpretation centres and various provincial and federal government departments. Outside of Quebec, and notwithstanding the work of organizations such as the Canadian Museum of Civilization and individual folklorists, the fields of applied and public sector folklore grew slowly. In 2002, it was argued,
"...the lack of an adequately funded Canadian folklore centre in the 20th century has stunted the development of public folklore in Canada. The Folklore Studies Association of Canada and its predecessor, the Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies, both government-funded bodies, have been influenced by government cultural policies. With the creation of a strong multicultural policy, there has been a continued focus on the preservation of old-world cultural traditions, and a corresponding neglect of current folkloristics."
Still, Canadian graduates continued to advance public sector folklore within and outside the academy. The same year, it was noted "many Université Laval, Laval [folklore] graduate students find employment in the public sector." Leading up to and following the creation of UNESCO, UNESCO's 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Canadian folklorists including Gerald Pocius at Memorial and Laurier Turgeon at Laval were instrumental in advancing public folklore projects in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador as part of safeguarding measures for intangible cultural heritage, though Canada has not ratified the convention as of 2020. An intangible cultural heritage office was established at the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2008, run on public folklore principles:
Newfoundland and Labrador considers the work of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage “public sector folklore.” As such, the province has adopted a strategy for safeguarding that is aligned with the UNESCO ICH Convention, but remains unique to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Public folklorist Dale Gilbert Jarvis was hired to run the program, holding the first provincial folklorist position in Canada. Under his direction, the program won the inaugural Jeonju International Award for Promoting ICH in 2019. In 2007, Memorial University hired Jillian Gould, a folklorist with a background in public sector folklore, and starting in 2010 Memorial began a M.A. with Public and Applied Folklore Co-operative Education route for students wishing to specialize in public folklore. Graduates of the program have gone on to work with a variety of organizations including Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, MUNFLA, City of St. John's, Wooden Boat Museum of NL, Them Days Archive, the Mummers Festival, Folk Arts Society of NL, The Town of Deer Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador, Deer Lake, and The Rooms. Other jurisdictions have followed the public folklore work of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. Heritage Saskatchewan hired Memorial University folklore graduate Kristin Catherwood in a role inspired by and mirroring Newfoundland and Labrador's intangible cultural heritage position. She has engaged in various public folklore projects, including work on communities in periods of economic transition, Prairie barns, and farm life during COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, COVID-19.


Further reading

* * * *


References

{{Reflist


External links


American Folklife Center
at Library of Congress, LOC
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
at
Smithsonian Institution The Smithsonian Institution ( ), or simply, the Smithsonian, is a group of museums and education and research centers, the largest such complex in the world, created by the U.S. government "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". Founded ...

Smithsonian Institution

Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD)City Lore

Fund for Folk Culture
Santa Fe
Heritage Fellowships
at National Endowment for the Arts, NEA
Institute for Cultural Partnerships
Harrisburg Folklore Folklorists Public sphere, Folklore