Harrisburg and the surrounding Central Pennsylvania area have played a major role in the history of American folklore and folklife studies. Pennsylvania State Librarian William Egle in Harrisburg was a founding member of the American Folklore Society. The first state folklorist in the nation was appointed in 1948 in Harrisburg with offices two blocks from the meeting site. The first academic department of folklore in the country was established at Franklin and Marshall College the previous year. It featured the first public outreach center for folklore and sponsored a festival that grew to be America’s largest regional folk festival—the Kutztown Folk Festival. It also was host in 1967 to the first conference on material culture within folklore and folklife studies. The first folklorist and folk medical archives in a university teaching hospital was housed at Penn State-Hershey Medical Center. Today, academic and public outreach programming continues at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, which features certificate and doctoral programs and the Pennsylvania Center for Folklore, the Susquehanna Folk Music Society, and a folk and traditional arts program as part of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Other sites of folkloristic and historical interest for attendees are in York, Gettysburg, Lancaster, Ephrata, and Carlisle, all within an hour or less drive of the hotel. We should also give a shout out to the “Folklore Coffee & Company” in Elizabethtown, a favorite music and dining haunt of folklorists in the region. The AFS meeting organizers tell us, however, that they plan plenty of special events and sessions to keep attendees busy within the robust meeting facility.
See the official AFS announcement for more information!