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Broadly defined, folklore is the study of cultural traditions. Folklorists study a range of cultural forms, practices, and performances, including everything from folk art and craft making; to oral storytelling; to dancing and music; to festivals, rituals, and folk beliefs. While early folklorists tended to study rural or isolated communities and heavily focused on orally transmitted traditions, folklorists more recently have dramatically expanded the scope of their research to include the study of urban and suburban communities, as well as the study of how media and technology play a role in folk traditions.  

Recent studies by folklorists include:  

  • Trevor J. Blank and Andrea Kitta, eds., Diagnosing Folklore: Perspectives on Disability, Health, and Trauma (University Press of Mississippi) 
  • Rachel Valentina González, Quinceañera Style: Social Belonging and Latinx Consumer Identities (University of Texas Press) 
  • Michael Dylan Foster, Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai (University of California Press) 
  • Fernando Orejuela and Stephanie Shonekan, eds., Black Lives Matter and Music: Protest, Intervention, Reflection (Indiana University Press) 
  • Joseph SciorraBuilt with Faith: Italian American Imagination and Catholic Material Culture in New York City (University of Tennessee Press) 
  • Jeanne Pitre Soileau, Yo‘ Mama, Mary Mack, and Boudreaux and Thibodeaux: Louisiana Children’s Folklore and Play (University Press of Mississippi) 
  • Levi S. GibbsSong King: Connecting People, Places, and Past in China (University of Hawaii Press) 

As an academic discipline, folklore was largely developed in the late nineteenth century. The American Folklore Society was established in 1888 as a professional umbrella for literary scholars and anthropologists who were both concerned with the study of traditional cultures. Some of its charter members included leading scholars such as anthropologist Franz Boas at Columbia and Harvard’s Francis James Child, a noted scholar of folk ballads. It also included leading artists and public figures, such as authors Mark Twain and Zora Neale Hurston, and former US president Rutherford B. Hayes.   

Today, folklore is an integral area in the humanities and social sciences throughout the world. Folklorists can be found in museum settings, non-profit arts or governmental agencies, libraries and archives, and colleges and universities, among many other places. Folklorists conduct ethnographic fieldwork, produce documentary films, organize exhibits and festivals, and play a role in cultural sustainability efforts. Although there are relatively few standalone academic departments of folklore in the United States, training for folklorists is offered at many universities through departments of English, anthropology, and American studies, among other areas. Degrees offered span the full range from undergraduate to graduate levels as well as various certificate or credentialing programs. Many students also study folklore as an emphasis within their degree. For example, Penn State Harrisburg does not offer any official degrees in folklore studies, but it does offer a wide range of courses on folklore and ethnography available to students through the American Studies BA, MA, and PhD programs. Penn State Harrisburg also offers a graduate certificate in Folklore and Ethnography that serves as an indication of this concentration on the graduate level. 

Folklore is an exciting field that captures many diverse forms of traditional culture. Many people do not realize how often they partake in and transmit folklore in their lives. As this page demonstrates, folklore does not constitute every aspect of culture but is a significant part of our everyday lives. Folklorists throughout the world are working not only to preserve cultural practices, but also inspire others to observe the culture around them.   

For further background information about folklore studies, below is a list of books that can help to introduce you to the basic concepts and methods of the field: 

  • Simon J. Bronner, Folklore: The Basics (Routledge) 
  • Alan DundesInternational Folkloristics (Rowman and Littlefield) 
  • Lynne S. McNeill, Folklore Rules: A Fun, Quick, and Useful Introduction to the Field of Academic Folklore Studies (Utah State University Press) 
  • Elliott Oring, ed., Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction (Utah State University Press) 
  • Martha Sims and Martine Stephens, Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions (Utah State University Press) 
  • Barre ToelkenThe Dynamics of Folklore (Utah State University Press) 

 

Folklore Studies within American Studies

The Penn State Harrisburg Model

By Simon J. Bronner

[The author is founding director, emeritus, of the PACF. This essay originally appeared in the AFS Review in 2012]
Writing in 1968 as head of the Folklore Institute at Indiana University, Richard M. Dorson bemoaned the lack of opportunities in higher education for studying the “home turf” in America of many budding folklorists. He had been trained in the History of American Civilization at Harvard and had been the first Harvard doctoral candidate to choose folklore as one of five American fields. He considered folklore essential to an understanding of American culture, especially with the folklorist’s eye for discerning theories regarding the function of tradition and methods of field work and working with human and archival sources. He looked around at an upsurge of interest among students scattered among a variety of disciplinary silos investigating ethnic, occupational, regional, and gendered cultures in the United States and predicted, “Among the new generation of students are some co-majors in folklore and American Studies who will master comparative, historical, and critical thinking, and they may produce the sound, perceptive treatments of folklore in American literature or American history that are yet to be written.” He may have been thinking of literature and history because of his orientation derived from his Harvard days (he was an undergraduate major in “history and literature”), but he probably did not fully anticipate the “cultural turn” that embraced American traditions as a specialization with the added tools of ethnography and sociological and psychological analysis and the applications of public folklore, cultural resource management, new media, heritage and museum studies.
Shortly after Dorson’s complaint was aired, a dramatic shift occurred in the view of folklore as a living tradition close to home that enabled American folklore to expand as a field of study. Before 1975, Dorson could cite surveys of folklore coursework in the United States and Canada that showed world folklore and the ballad dominating the American collegiate curriculum. By the 1980s, however, American folklore rose to the top of the list of the most common courses in folklore offered in American universities. One entire major program begun in 1966 in Cooperstown connected to the State University of New York offered a stand-alone M.A. degree in “American Folk Culture” that stood apart from other programs operating at the time at the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University, University of Texas, and UCLA in its emphasis on material culture, folklife and ethnology, and museum studies in the United States. In the next decade, students could declare “folklife” as a specialization on the way to receiving a Ph.D. in American Studies at George Washington University. At Dorson’s home institution of Indiana University, the American Studies Program allowed students to hold a double major in folklore and American Studies. Beginning as an interdepartmental “curriculum,” the Folklore Program at University of North Carolina moved into the Department of American Studies by century’s end with a commitment to regional folklife, particularly in the South. Although Cooperstown shut down its folklore program in favor of a concentration in history museum studies, a new doctoral program established in 2009 at Penn State Harrisburg compensated for the loss by offering a folk culture subfield with their American Studies Ph.D.
These developments raise questions about the preparation for scholarship and careers in the twenty-first century that focus on the American context for folk traditions, particularly in the educational incubator of the Middle Atlantic Region that had long been viewed as a microcosm of America with its plural ethnic identity, location as source of American cultural movements, and regional “middleness.” The conventional routes into folk cultural study in the twentieth century primarily had been through literature (often in departments of English and languages) and anthropology. The kinds of folklore studied often varied, and were limited, according to the disciplinary focus. Understandably, an emphasis on literature and speech in language departments influenced the consideration of folklore as narrative. Anthropology courses on folk culture primarily presented material on custom and narrative, primarily in non-Western societies. It certainly became possible to take folklore as a major at a few universities, including Dorson’s beloved Harvard, but American material often was a minor segment of the curriculum, in favor of a global, comparative perspective. I recall when I taught at Harvard in 1996-1997, my course offerings in American folklore to my surprise broke new ground, even though they attracted the notice of the Harvard Crimson for being “must-have” electives in an otherwise esoteric curriculum. UCLA couched folklore courses under a World Arts and Culture department and an American folklife course at Indiana University, long a mainstay of the curriculum, disappeared along with Dorson’s own famed course in “Folklore in American Civilization.”
A first question to ask is whether the American focus is too limiting for a boundary-crossing phenomenon like folklore. The answer necessarily takes in the vastness and diversity of the American social and physical landscape. Further the spatialization of folklore with “America” forces analysis of the connection of folklore to national, regional, and local contexts that are often political as well as cultural. Perhaps this tendency is why American Studies has been especially attractive to considerations of public engagement, heritage, and application. That is not to say that transnational connections and global diffusion are excluded. Americanists, well aware of the migrant nature of their subject, also take as a given the necessity of seeking sources and precedents outside the continent for American cultural phenomena. That orientation leads to a twin concern for synchronic and diachronic analysis, that is, using ethnography to document the present and historical chronology and context for precedents. The explanatory goal of American Studies often led to an additional step beyond identification common in folkloristic essays: psychological or cognitive sources of traditions. For its evidence, American Studies is not limited by a discipline to a type or genre. Therefore, material culture, folk arts, beliefs, and bodylore that went overlooked in English, history, and anthropology were avidly picked up to address the issues of an American environment.
A second question is where folklore fits into an intellectual organization by geographic area. The answer to this one is that a natural fit of folklore with American Studies occurs because of the special concern for interpreting the patterns and ideas evident in American culture. Americanists therefore called for looking at interrelations of folk, popular, and elite culture rather than delimiting or excluding material for study. Dorson offered a visual representation of a conventional disciplinary view of culture with bounded boxes piled on top of one another. Folk rested on the bottom and elite sat at the top of the heap. In an Americanist orientation, culture is presented as a series of relationships with folk interacting with popular, mass, and elite. This orientation is one of the reasons, I believe, that the social interactional approach emphasizing the situations and scenes of American everyday life has been an especially important contribution of folklore to American Studies (Bauman and Abrahams 1976: 375-76). Folklore provides expressive evidence of America’s pluralism at the grassroots. As such, area studies have inspired a number of interdisciplinary spinoffs that have the potential to complement cultural area and national work and emphasize folkloristic perspectives: ethnic studies, regional studies, gender studies, cultural studies, religious studies, and cultural sustainability, among others.
If American Studies is so broadly conceived, however, one might worry that folklore would get swallowed up or relegated to the margins of study. A mitigating factor from the intellectual heritage of folkloristics is that a body of scholarship exists covering many groups and genres that have been overlooked by the big disciplines. In the search for cultural coverage in American Studies, folkloristics often gets noticed more than in other disciplinary homes. Additionally, folklorists more than anthropologists have been willing to examine one’s own backyard, so to speak, as a research field to query issues of identity, function, and symbolism. Familiarity with one’s culture did not exclude researchers from taking an objective stance; in fact, “dealing with one’s own” was encouraged. It also often led to an applied aspect where the results of research could lead to social action including education, cultural programming (e.g., preservation projects, exhibitions, festivals), and public policy advocacy.
Although journals abound with calls for linking the evidence of folklore with American Studies, material on devising a curriculum oriented toward folkloristics hardly exists. An intriguing exception is Tremaine McDowell’s description of the efforts by the American Studies program at the University of Minnesota to emphasize folklore “as sources of information concerning America” (McDowell 1948: 44). The alteration he proposed to disciplinary approaches in history and literature to folklore is to emphasize the relationship of folklore to American life rather than letters or events. Formal instruction did exist within the department of history (by Philip Jordan and at least once by Richard Dorson). McDowell was quick to point out that “the student’s work in folklore is done within the frame of reference not of history alone but the much wider frame of American culture as a whole” (1948: 46). The radical statement for its time, however, was that “This broad overview is organized and systematized for seniors in a final proseminar in American Studies” (1948: 46). In other words, folklore is the foundation as well as capstone of students’ American cultural education.
Minnesota did not sustain this orientation that just may have been ahead of its time, although folklorists taught there through the end of the twentieth century. I daresay, however, that Penn State Harrisburg with its new doctoral program is building upon its legacy of undergraduate and graduate education since 1972 is actively working to reframe “American culture as a whole” and self-consciously build a multi-tiered model of folkloristic study for the twenty-first century. Instead of a solitary course on folklore, several exist with different concentrations. Undergraduates can begin with “Introduction to American Folklore” and “Popular Culture and Folklife” at the 100-level and advance to “American Folklore” at the 300 level and “Folktale in American Literature” at the 400 level. Folklore is evident as it was at Minnesota in the capstone experience of “American Themes, American Eras” (491W). Additionally, students have access to a number of applied courses oriented toward public heritage careers such as “Museum Studies,” “Public Heritage,” “Historic Preservation,” “Archives and Records Management,” and “Oral History.” A Center for Pennsylvania Culture supports much of the regional public heritage work and provides research projects. With the passage of time and new areas of inquiry from the foundations of American Studies, new coursework involving folklore is available such as “Americans at Work,” “American Masculinities,” “Ethnicity and the American Experience,” “Ethnography of the United States,” and “American Expressive Forms.” These courses are tied together by an overarching goal, as stated on the program’s website (http://www.hbg.psu.edu/hum/amst)  “to advance the documentation and interpretation of the American experience, past and present, through research with a variety of evidence, including objects, still and moving images, practices and performances, and oral and written texts.”
The master’s program features coursework, internships, and independent studies in folklore and folklife, including “Topics in Folklore” and “Material Culture and Folklife.” Regularly offered courses in “Ethnography and Society,” “Local and Regional Studies,” “Seminar in Public Heritage,” “Topics in Popular Culture,” and “Field Experience in Americans Studies” conspicuously complement the strong folkloristic component of the program. Special topic graduate courses taught by folklorists have included “Borders in American Culture,” “Media, Performance, and Practice,” “Digital Culture,” “Foodways,” “Public Folklore,” “Folk Art,” “Folk Medicine,” “Folk Music,” “The Amish and the Plain Groups,” and “Festival.” The culminating experience is a thesis or project (including exhibitions, documentaries, catalogues, and creative productions) that allows for alternative forms of scholarship. Many of these projects have been on folklore including published versions on legend trips, Pennsylvania German folklife, folk crafts, vernacular architecture, folklore in education, and children’s.
Many teachers and public heritage professionals may “stumble” upon folklore and then embrace it in their graduate coursework as part of a general plan of study. At the doctoral level, students can declare folk culture as a specialization. Indeed, folk culture has been selected more than any of the other fields by doctoral students going through the program. Other fields that complement it at Penn State Harrisburg are defined as course sequences in “Public Heritage and Museum Studies,” “Interdisciplinary History and Politics,” “Society and Ethnography,” and “Regional, Urban, and Environmental Studies. Doctoral students declare two of these subfields and most budding folklorists claim “Society and Ethnography” or “Public Heritage and Museum Studies” along with folk and popular culture. Even if they do not identify themselves as folklorists, they get a strong dose of folkloristics in their American Studies preparation that serves them for projects that have included food, media, and art studies. Indeed, the first dissertation to come out of the program was on a folkloristic topic of folkloric responses to disaster on the Internet followed by projects on Jewish dress, backpacking narratives, and food recipe transmission. The program is also home to the Eastern American Studies Association which sponsors research conferences involving students and professionals, such as the “Heritage and the State” conference in 2011 co-sponsored with the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association at the State Capitol. Faculty also encourage students with editorial and research projects such as the Jewish Cultural Studies Series, Encyclopedia of American Folklife, Susquehanna Heritage, McCormick Family Papers, International Journal of the History of Sport, and Pennsylvania-German Research Guide. At present, two full-time tenure-track lines are held by folklorists and over seven lecturers, drawn mostly from the doctoral program, teach undergraduate folklore courses. Graduating students often stay in the region to work at the abundant cultural resources, including the Pennsylvania “Dutch Country,” Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Gettysburg Battlefield, Hershey Story, and York County Heritage Trust.
My prediction for the twenty-first century, maybe even bolder than Dorson’s uttered for the twentieth century, is that the new generation of students in the United States desiring to work in folklore will find a home in American Studies and its interdisciplinary spinoffs rather than in the “conventional” disciplines of English, anthropology, and history–and even folklore. And in the process, the face of folklore will contain more folklife, material culture, and public heritage concerns than in years past. The theoretical orientations may also shift, too, with attention to cultural history, everyday life, media and contemporary practices, and folk-popular culture relations. Penn State Harrisburg provides a model of growth.
References
Baker, Ronald L. 1971. “Folklore Courses and Programs in American Colleges and Universities.” Journal of American Folklore 84: 221-29.
________. 1986. “Folklore and Folklife Studies in American and Canadian Colleges and Universities.” Journal of American Folklore 99: 50-74.
Bauman, Richard, and Roger D. Abrahams. 1976. “American Folklore and American Studies.” American Quarterly 28: 360-77.
Bronner, Simon J. 1996. “American Studies and Folklore.” In American Folklore: An Encyclopedia, ed. Jan Harold Brunvand, 24-27. New York: Garland.
Cohen, Hennig. 1959. “American Folklore and American Studies: A Final Comment.” Journal of American Folklore 72: 241-42.
Dolby, Sandra K. 1996. “Essential Contributions of a Folkloric Perspective to American Studies.” Journal of Folklore Research 33: 58-64.
Dorson, Richard M. 1950. “The Growth of Folklore Courses.” Journal of American Folklore 63: 345-59.
Dorson, Richard M. 1971. “Folklore in Relation to American Studies.” In American Folklore and the Historian by Richard M. Dorson, 78-93. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
McDowell, Tremaine. 1948. “Folklore and American Studies.” American Heritage 2 (old series): 44-47.

Penn State has a long history in folklore studies, and the university formerly had a Folklore Program. Some notable scholars who have taught at Penn State include:

Archer Taylor (1890-1973) 

Archer Taylor was a folklorist who specialized in proverbs, riddles, literature, and cultural history.  Taylor taught at several universities throughout his career, including from 1910 to 1912 at Penn State, then known as Pennsylvania State College.  His research interests focused on both American and European folklore.  Taylor’s publications which explore his research interests include The ProverbThe Black Ox: A Study in the History of a Folk-Tale“Edward” and “Sven i Rosengard”: A Study in the Dissemination of a BalladA Bibliography of MeistergesangA Bibliography of Riddles; and English Riddles from Oral Tradition, among others.  During his career, Taylor served as president of the American Folklore Society from 1936 to 1938 and as an editor for California Folklore Quarterly (now Western Folklore) and the Journal of American Folklore.  Taylor was honored in 1960 with the publication Humaniora: Essays in Literature, Folklore, Bibliography: Honoring Archer Taylor on His Seventieth Birthday.  Additionally, the Western States Folklore Society annually celebrates Taylor’s work with the Archer Taylor Memorial Lecture.  Today, his library collection is located at the University of Georgia and his ballad collection is located at the University of California, Berkeley.

Samuel Preston Bayard (1908-1997) 

Samuel Preston Bayard was an early folklorist and musicologist.  He received his BA in English from Penn State, then known as Pennsylvania State College, in 1934.  After graduate study, Bayard returned to Penn State to teach courses in English and comparative literature at the University Park campus from 1945 to 1973.  Additionally, Bayard also established the folklore program at the University Park campus.  During his career, he also served as the president of the American Folklore Society from 1965 to 1966.  His research interests included the use of fiddle and fife tunes in traditional music.  Bayard is also noteworthy for the concept “melodic families,” which refers to how tunes are related to one another.  At the time, most folklorists only collected the texts of folk songs; however, Bayard’s interests emphasize the importance of melody to text.  Between 1928 and 1963, Bayard collected recordings of fiddle and fife tunes from southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.  Publications that expand upon his interests in these field recordings include Hill Country Tunes and Dance to the Fiddle March to the Fife.  Penn State holds a significant collection of Bayard’s papers and has digitized his folklore recordings. 

William Bernard McCarthy (1939-2008) 

William Bernard McCarthy was Professor Emeritus of English at Penn State DuBois.  McCarthy taught courses related to English and folklore at the DuBois campus from 1989 to 2004.  His scholarly interests included ballads and folktales in the United States and Scotland.  His book The Ballad Matrix: Personality, Mileu, and the Oral Tradition explores the life of Agnes Lyles of Kilbarchan, a ballad singer considered to be part of Scotland’s golden age of ballad singing.  In addition to this book, McCarthy is also the editor of Jack in Two Worlds: Contemporary North American Tales and Their Tellers, which explores the tradition of Jack tales in North America, and Cinderella in America: A Book of Folk and Fairy Tales, which collects together various folk tales from across the United States.  McCarthy was also a longtime member of both the American Folklore Society and the International Society for Folk Narrative Research.  He also served as a member of the Société Internationale d’Ethnologie et de Folklore’s Ballad Commission.  Penn State holds a collection of McCarthy’s papers.

Henry Glassie (born 1941) 

Henry Glassie is College Professor Emeritus of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University.  Prior to his tenure at Indiana, Glassie was the State Folklorist of Pennsylvania from 1967 to 1969 while working on his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania.  He later served as an assistant professor in the American Studies Program at Penn State Harrisburg in 1969.  His research interests include folk art, material culture, oral narrative, and vernacular architecture.  Glassie’s work examines folklore in the United States as well as Bangladesh, Turkey, and Ireland.  His notable publications include Passing the Time in BallymenonePattern in the Material Folk Culture of the Eastern United StatesTurkish Traditional Art TodayArt and Life in Bangladesh; and Vernacular Architecture.  Glassie also served as a president to both the American Folklore Society and the Vernacular Architecture Forum.  Since 1999, the Vernacular Architecture Forum awards the Henry Glassie Award each year to vernacular architecture scholars and folklorists whose research contributes to the field.  Indiana University also awards the Henry Glassie Award each year for excellence in teaching.

David J. Hufford (born 1944) 

David J. Hufford is University Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey.  Hufford taught courses in the medical humanities, behavioral sciences, and family and community medicine departments at the Penn State College of Medicine from 1974 to 2007.  During his tenure, he also served as Chair of Medical Humanities and Director of the Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine.  Beyond his retirement from Penn State, Hufford served as the Senior Fellow in Spirituality for the Religious Studies Project at the Samueli Institute in Alexandria, Virginia from 2010 to 2016.  His research interests include understanding the relationship between spirituality and health and spiritual belief in experience.  Hufford’s book The Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions examines the folklore of extraordinary spiritual experiences during sleep paralysis.  He is also currently conducting a study with the Department of Defense to examine the spiritual experiences of combat veterans.

Kenneth A. Thigpen (born 1948) 

Kenneth A. Thigpen is Associate Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Penn State.  He taught courses in English and comparative literature at the University Park campus from 1973 to 1999.  Nine years after his retirement, Thigpen returned to Penn State to serve as director of academic affairs at the Lehigh Valley campus from 2008 to 2017.  During his career, Thigpen was a co-founder and secretary of the Documentary Resource Center at Penn State, which sought to preserve and promote film documentaries for research purposes.  In addition, Thigpen served as president of both the Pennsylvania Folklife Advisory Commission and the Pennsylvania Folklore Society.  Thigpen’s research interests primarily focus on Romanian American folklore, but he also examines Pennsylvania and American folklore and popular culture.  Topics explored include immigration folklore, American comedy, Pennsylvania folk legends, Halloween celebrations in State College, and Pennsylvania’s Rattlesnake Festival.  He is the author of Folklore and the Ethnicity Factor in the Lives of Romanian-Americans and co-editor of Headwaters and Hardwoods: The Folklore, Cultural History, and Traditional Arts of the Pennsylvania Northern Tier.

Bill Ellis (born 1950) 

Bill Ellis is Professor Emeritus of English and American Studies at Penn State Hazelton.  He taught courses in English and American studies at the Hazleton campus from 1984 to 2009.  Ellis has been a longtime contributor to the American Folklore Society, including in his role as president of the Children’s Folklore Section.  Since 2012, the AFS has awarded the Bill Ellis Prize to graduate students in the New Directions in Folklore Section whose essays combine folklore studies with popular culture and digital and new media studies.  This award category stems from Ellis’s own research interests in folklore, which include Japanese popular culture (especially Manga and Anime), contemporary and urban legends, new religious movements, folklore and the internet, and modern adaptations of fairy tales.  His publications include Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the MediaAliens, Ghosts, and Cults: Legends We Live; and Lucifer Ascending: The Occult in Folk and Popular Culture. Ellis also co-authored The Global Grapevine: Why Rumor and Legends about Immigrants, Terrorists, and Foreign Trade Matter with Gary Alan Fine.

Sue Samuelson (1956-1991) 

Sue Samuelson was a folklorist whose research interests included American holiday celebrations and traditions, children’s folklore, foodways, regional identities, and applied folklore, such as using folklorist as witnesses in litigation proceedings.  She taught courses on foodways, festivals, and regional cultures in the American studies department at Penn State Harrisburg from 1984 to 1987.  Samuelson also served as a public folklorist during her time in Pennsylvania at places such as the Pennsylvania State Association of County Commissioners, the Dauphin County Library System, the Pennsylvania Office of State Folklife Programs, and Fort Hunter in Harrisburg.  Samuelson was a prominent figure in the children’s folklore and foodway sections of the American Folklore Society.  Her numerous publications appear in folklore journals including Western Folklore, Indiana FolkloreFolklore Historian, and Folklore and Mythology Studies.  In her memory, AFS awards the Sue Samuelson Award to the graduate student with the best paper on foodways each year, and the American Studies program at Penn State Harrisburg awards the Sue Samuelson Award to an outstanding doctoral candidate each year.

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