Library. Read online. Free books read online. Read books without registering

Free e-online library. On our resource there are books of different genres and themes that you will be comfortable reading

American Folklore Scholarship: The Early Years. Encyclopedia of American Folklore

Collection and study of American folklore from the beginning to the 20th century. In a sense, American folklore scholarship began almost simultaneously with the European discovery of the New World. Friar Ramon Pane accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 for the express purpose of collecting all the “ceremonies and antiquities” of the Taino Indians, a tribe that has long been extinct. Three years later, in 1496, Pane’s little book, On the Antiquities of the Indians, appeared. This moralistic view of Indian folklore written from a Christian standpoint included narratives, beliefs, and accounts of rituals. In its emphasis upon the Indian and his quaintness, Pane’s volume is typical of most of the works dealing with American folklore that followed it over the next four centuries. While there were other collectors of American folklore after Pane, it was the 19th century before anyone envisioned a field of study in which folklore would be the central concern. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793–1864) was the first American to set forth a systematic concept for a discipline of folklore. His first suggestions in this regard were presented in Algic Researches (1839), a collection of American Indian narratives Schoolcraft gathered during several years as an Indian agent on the northwestern frontier. His ideas were more fully presented in later publications. Basically, Schoolcraft envisioned a total science of man, albeit one that focused on the “rude nations,” in which folklore played an important part. Schoolcraft’s new discipline had four main objects of inquiry: (1) physical type of man; (2) material existence, by which he meant what is now called material culture; (3) intellectual existence, including music and poetry, oral tales and legends, medical knowledge, and mythology; and (4) geographical phenomena affecting or modifying the above features. These elements were to be determined through examination of numerous types of data, including art remains, dictionaries, grammars, place names, skulls, mummies, histories by European travelers, missionary translations, works ascribed to natives, “authentic traditions of all ages and countries,” natural history, and mythology. Although much more than folklore was included in this new field of study, Schoolcraft nevertheless considered oral and material tradition basic and essential to the whole. Mythology was particularly significant because it contained the framework of the philosophy and religion of the “rude nations” and gave character to their songs and poetry. Schoolcraft’s “new” science involved both field observation and library work, emphasized the American Indian, and was survivalistic. Oral traditions were regarded as fossils of an earlier day that were still preserved and functioning though rapidly disappearing. Like the bones of extinct or ancient species of animals, they were far removed from civilization. This concept of folklore made the collection of such materials urgent, because those gathering them were retrieving from “the oblivion of past generations matter for thought and reflection for the future.” Although Schoolcraft is correctly designated the “father of American folklore,” he made little contribution to his chosen field beyond the information he collected. Like most of his contemporaries, he considered himself primarily a collector, but a few scholars active at the same time were primarily theorists. The two most important of these were Horatio Emmons Hale (1817–1896) and Daniel Garrison Brinton (1837– 1899), America’s premier solar mythologists. Both were indebted to the German-born scholar Max Müller (1823–1900), who maintained that all myths could be linked to the sun and the solar cycle. While Hale basically accepted the “disease of language” thesis that Müller used to dismiss any factual basis for myth and legend, he was convinced that such traditions often originated historically. In numerous books, such as Myths of the New World (1868) and American Hero-Myths (1882), Brinton reached essentially the same conclusion as Müller, differing from the European master in not relating all myths to the sun; in several instances, he found connections with the moon or with lightning. Brinton saw a need to study the influence of myths on both the individual and the national mind, but he realized that the state of collections often made this kind of analysis difficult, if not impossible. Both Brinton and Hale championed a theoretical viewpoint that was never very popular in America and is now the most soundly rejected of all past folklore theories, and neither of these men had any students. What is more, solar mythology was a theoretical school characterized by disunity rather than unity. Most proponents acted as if they were unaware of the contributions of others holding the same views. So, although Hale and Brinton became significant individuals in folklore study, neither ex-erted much influence on future generations of folklorists. Based purely on folklore collecting, few Americans of the 19th century were more important than John Wesley Powell (1834–1902). As head of the Bureau of Ethnology (after 1894, the Bureau of American Ethnology) from its founding in 1879 until his death, Powell was responsible for publishing most of the major collections of American Indian folklore that appeared in print during that twenty-three year span. Congress established the bureau primarily to carry on research already begun, but from the outset Powell intended more. He thought of the agency as the focal point around which all American Indian studies would be centered. Toward this goal, he implemented a research program that included detailed bibliographic compilations, new field studies, the development and circulation of questionnaires, and publication of Annual Reports and Bulletins. Powell belonged to the evolutionary school that saw all society developing through four levels of progress. Three of these stages—savagery, barbarism, and civilization— were already realized, but in the future an additional level, that of “enlightenment,” would be achieved. He expounded his views in a large number of prolix and dense publications, but these writings are of interest to 20th-century readers only as historical curiosities. Powell’s real importance is as the overseer of several folklore works issued in twenty-three Annual Reports prepared under his direction. The authors of these works include many of the best-known 19th-century students of American Indian folklore: Erminnie A.Smith, Washington Matthews, James Owen Dorsey, James Mooney, John G. Bourke, Alice Fletcher, and Frank H.Cushing, among others. Most of these studies were consistent with Powell’s view of folklore as survivals from a lower stage of culture. Throughout the 19th century great attention was accorded Indian folklore; prior to 1900 relatively little work was done with the lore of other groups. Even such a significant cultural group as African Americans was virtually ignored until the second half of the 19th century. Two major assumptions prevalent in American society contributed to this neglect: first, that the Black man was incapable of any thought or expression worthy of serious study, and, second, that Whites knew everything worth knowing about the slaves who lived inside White society. In the mid-19th century, this paternalistic view was considerably altered, and, in large part because of the controversy over slavery, an intellectual curiosity of the part of Whites toward the Negro emerged. Occasional references to African American folklore started appearing beginning in the 1830s. One of these, a letter by Lucy McKim (1842–1877) in Dwight’s Journal of Music in 1862, is often cited for first bringing slave songs to public attention, although that claim can be disputed. Not until the post-Civil War years was the first extensive collection of Negro folklore published, and it came about largely through the efforts of a classical scholar who was a pioneer in both Black dialect and song studies. William Francis Allen (1830–1889) was a native of Massachusetts who spent two years in the South with the Freedmen’s and Sanitary Commissions after the Civil War. During his stay in South Carolina and Arkansas, Allen collected Negro songs, and he eventually met Charles Pickard Ware (1840–1921) and McKim, both of whom had also collected songs. The three soon met other collectors and combined their material to produce Slave Songs of the United States (1867). For a pioneering work, this volume set a high standard and was unusual in that it contained musical settings for each of its 136 texts. The authors also considered regional characteristics of Negro folk music, a topic overlooked by most of their successors. They paid attention to the situations in which songs were performed, another subject that few collectors of their time considered. Admirable as it is, Slave Songs of the United States does have flaws, perhaps the most glaring being the ethnocentric judgments that Allen, Ware, and McKim occasionally make. For example, Negro music is judged as being either civilized or barbaric rather than seen as a musical system with its own set of values. Despite its limitations, the book brought Black folklore, or the musical part of it, to widespread public view and whetted the interest in collecting, analyzing, and performing Negro fblk music that has never since abated. Nearly two decades after the appearance of Slave Songs of the United States, the first extensive account of African American secular music was published. In 1886 George Washington Cable (1844–1925), primarily remembered as a local-color novelist, produced two articles for Century magazine dealing with Creole Negro folksong and dance. In these essays, Cable touched on two topics that were controversial for many years thereafter. One was the dispute over the banjo and its use by Black musicians, Cable flatly stating that “it is not the favorite musical instrument of the negroes of the Southern States of America.” The second dispute was over the idea that Negro songs had originated in Africa, a view that received little challenge from Cable’s American contemporaries but was firmly opposed by some foreign writers, like the Englishman Richard Wallashek. The most damaging attack on the theory of African origins came many years later with the publication of Newman Ivey White’s American Negro Folksongs (1928). In the same decade that Cable’s articles appeared, a second kind of Negro folklore came to public attention, one that all commentators at the time agreed was of purely African origin. This body of Black lore was the animal tale, as handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. These tales gained widespread prominence in 1880 through the efforts of Georgia journalist Joel Chandler Harris (1848–1908). Harris had heard African American folktales most of his life, but the immediate impetus for his writing on the subject was a December 1877 article, “Folklore of the Southern Negroes,” in Lippincott’s magazine. Taking exception to author William Owens’ efforts, Harris produced his own book, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1880), which was received as a literary and folklore masterpiece. Harris claimed he was an accidental author and an unintentional folklorist, but there is little doubt that his various publications had a profound affect on the subsequent collecting of African American folktales. Harris was sometimes uncomfortable being regarded as an authority on folklore, but he was not reticent about offering theories. At least two that he included in his Uncle Remus volumes were accepted unquestioningly by most later students of African American lore: that the folktales of Blacks were of remote African origin and did not betray European influences, and that Negro folktales had not been influenced by those of the American Indian, as John Wesley Powell and others had suggested. On the latter point, Harris was supported by no less an authority than folktale scholar Thomas Frederick Crane (1844–1927), who, in an 1881 review article, concluded that the idea of Blacks borrowing narratives from the tribesmen was “an hypothesis no one would think of maintaining.” Eighty-four years later, in 1965, Alan Dundes offered further support for this view, although he was more temperate in his claims than Crane. Among other points, Dundes noted that “many folklorists have assumed, wrongly in my opinion, that all African origins must be in West Africa.” He then pointed out that many slaves came from East Africa, where the hare, an important figure in African American folktales, is the principal trickster figure. Dundes asserted that the burden of proof was mainly on those making the claim that Blacks borrowed their trickster tales from the American Indian. Richard M.Dorson (1916–1981), one of the most prolific American folklorists, offered the first significant challenge to the thesis of African origins of black folktales. Working with a corpus of over one thousand folktales he collected in the 1950s from Negroes born in the South, Dorson concluded that “this body of tales does not come from Africa” or “from any one place but from a number of dispersal points.” What’s more, he argued that the animal tales, such as those recorded by Harris, “are of demonstrably European origin.” Although basing his conclusions on the best available modern reference works, such as motif indexes, Dorson’s argument fell largely on deaf ears. Two basic approaches to folklore coexisting in the late 19th century were the anthropological and the literary. Largely because of the influence of William Wells Newell (1839–1907) and Franz Boas (1858–1942), the American Folklore Society (AFS), established in 1888, was oriented toward the anthropological approach. These two men were the major forces in the early years of the AFS, Boas maintaining that role for half a century. They were united in their view of folklore as a division of the broader science of anthropology, and both wanted to make anthropology and folklore more professional. Newell thought that amateurs would undoubtedly continue to be active in folklore, but he believed they should adhere to rigorous scholarly standards. He sided with Boas on the anthropological emphasis of the American Folklore Society, thinking that in so doing he would both distinguish himself from the nonprofessionals interested in folklore and simultaneously increase the scholarly output of the Journal of American Folklore (JAF) by filling it primarily with anthropological data. This alliance also added the weight of the European academic tradition, represented by Boas, to Newell’s attempts to professionalize folklore. Boas also benefited greatly from his relationship with Newell and the AFS. He had a genuine interest in folklore as a significant aspect of anthropology, and he needed the society as a power base through which he could propound his ideas. Moreover, the JAF was an excellent publishing outlet for his students because, unlike the anthropological journals, it allowed him control over the form and timing of the publication of articles. Actually, the American Folklore Society was virtually Boas’ last hope for gaining professional clout, because it was the only organization that indicated some interest in him and his approach to anthropology. He had earlier attempted unsuccessfully to obtain positions of influence in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Bureau of American Ethnology. Newell, however, was grateful to have him as an ally, and he gave him virtually a free hand in AFS matters. Perhaps the main reason Newell found Boas appealing is that Boas offered a more comprehensive and systematic approach to folklore than had existed before, one that he ultimately illustrated in his studies, theoretical papers, and field collecting projects. A major element in Boas’ approach to folklore was good fieldwork, gathering material firsthand with extensive interviews. This emphasis was a bold step away from his earlier influences; 19th-century European scholars, representatives of the tradition in which Boas was trained, generally held a negative attitude toward fieldwork, regarding it as mere collecting and, thus, far removed from true scholarship, defined as the comparison, analysis, and interpretation of materials. To Boas, good fieldwork consisted of accurately recording data and finding the best informants. Ideally, the collector should seek out someone who knew and could relate data on every aspect of village life. He usually relied on a single informant from a community, an approach unusual in his day, but one adopted later by his students. Boas also helped popularize the practice of amassing data with no particular problem in mind and with no clear idea of what was to be gained in the end. This approach resulted from his belief that each culture possesses its own concepts, categories, and biases, and that to arrive at a true understanding of another culture it was essential for scholars to collect vast quantities of reliable material in the native language. Myths and tales thus gathered would be preserved for all time as undistorted expressions of the culture, containing all of the keys necessary to understand that society. By poring over accurately recorded texts, one would arrive at new theories and new problems to be solved. In other words, the data would direct the interpretation. Much of Boas’ field methodology is considered faulty by modern standards, but he did record an enormous amount of useful data and, more than most scholars of his day, tried to view Western civilization as only one, not the, standard of reference. Furthermore, he realized the limitations of personal observation, and he was convinced that people see what they expect to see and interpret what they see in the light of their previous experiences. Boas insisted on accuracy in recording data and on limiting research to problems that could be solved by observable facts. He also made fieldwork, at least among “exotic” groups, popular and acceptable in a way it had never been before. Finally, his emphasis on the value of presenting accurately transcribed texts was important at a time when folktales were often published as literary products, without care for their original form. Boas was not opposed to making theoretical pronouncements, but he was cautious about offering them. Indeed, he maintained that collecting numerous folktales from contiguous peoples and plotting the distribution of their “elements”—by which he meant something roughly akin to motifs—must precede any theoretical work. He failed to explain, however, how much collecting and mapping were needed before one could justifiably begin theorizing. It is also unclear exactly what Boas meant by theory in folklore, for he never demonstrated by example his ideas in this regard. He often referred to statements of a psychological kind, but his only detailed discussions are of historical processes. Boas’ thinking about fblklore is most completely set forth in the mammoth volume Tsimshian Mythology (1916). In this book, especially its prefatory essay, he emphasizes proper recording and presentation of texts, offering the then novel suggestion that folklorists should not limit their work to “star” informants or to the “correct” version of an item when variants occurred and such versions affected transmission of the tale. Unfortunately, neither Boas nor his disciples followed this idea, which is still not common practice in folklore fieldwork. The book is also important because it sets forth Boas’ concept of folktales as a “reflector of culture,” a point only hinted at previously but restated in several later writings. This thesis led Boas to think of tales as a type of cultural autobiography; he overlooked the possibility that an oral literature might not mirror all aspects of life equally. From a scholarly standpoint, there were both positive and negative results of Boas’ decades-long influence in the American Folklore Society. His insistence on good objective fieldwork and accurate presentation of data, caution about theorizing based on faulty or insufficient material, professionalization of the field of folklore, and production of folklore fieldworkers and support for their research and publications are on the positive side. Moreover, his students constitute a veritable Who’s Who of anthropological folklorists, including, among others, A.L.Kroeber, Elsie Clews Parsons, Robert H.Lowie, Paul Radin, Martha Warren Beckwith, Ruth Benedict, Melville Jean Herskovits, Gladys Reichard, Ruth Bunqel, and Melville Jacobs. One negative aspect of Boas’ influence was an overemphasis on American Indian folklore. While he recognized that other peoples had oral traditions, he showed little interest in nonaboriginal subjects. For example, he refused to allow Vance Randolph to do a dissertation topic dealing with Ozark mountaineers, preferring instead to direct him toward a West Coast Indian tribe. Rather than follow Boas’ suggestion, Randolph left graduate school. Boas’ bias permeated American Folklore Society publications during the more than three decades that Boasian folklorists were editors of the Journal of American Folklore. Throughout this period, virtually every issue of the quarterly contained at least one article or collection of tribal myths or tales, all following the Boasian model whereby texts are presented with little or no attention given to the informants, context, or style. There was, of course, nothing wrong with the collection of American Indian traditions, merely with the journal’s imbalance. The net effect was to reinforce a view held by many that folklore existed only in places and among peoples outside the mainstream of civilization. Boasian scholarship can be faulted on several other counts. Boas had no intellectual interest in informants except as repositories of oral traditions, a lack of concern derived from his orientation toward the past. He focused entirely on bygone traditions, or what has come to be called “memory culture.” Having thus given up any concern for the present, he saw no need to learn much about the living bearers of a tradition. Moreover, his belief in a superorganic concept of culture made any interest in those who preserve and pass on folklore irrelevant; the recording of texts was all that one needed. Boas was certainly not the only person holding such views, but he was one of the most influential adherents. This attitude held sway among folklorists long after Boas’ death in 1942 and only began to change in the mid-1960s. Some other aspects of Boas’ thinking about folk traditions did not bode well for the future development of an independent discipline devoted to the study of folklore. He believed that it was important to collect and study oral traditions because primitive man is our ancestor, and folklore, as a reflector of culture, offers important insights into primitive thought. Through a rigorous study of tribal lore and culture, one could eventually arrive at what he called “original nature.” Thus, folklore, or the “primitive arts” as Boas sometimes called it, had importance only as a means to an end. Many of his contemporaries and scholarly descendants had essentially the same outlook. Ultimately, Boas’ significance in the history of American folklore is that he effectively presented a systematic way of dealing with his materials. He offered a method for recording oral traditions that promised to lead eventually to the formation of folklore theories based on sound scholarship. That his ideas were adopted by numerous other scholars was in no sense a small achievement. During the late 19th century, the literary approach to folklore was championed primarily by the Chicago Folk-Lore Society and its moving force, Fletcher S.Bassett (1847–1893), a retired lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. An independently wealthy man, Bassett had been forced into retirement in 1882 by ill health, whereupon he moved to Chicago and devoted the remaining years of his life to private scholarship. In 1891 he persuaded more than sixty people to attend the inaugural meeting of the new society, and for the next couple of years it was a viable organization devoted to pursuing the idea of folklore as an art form totally independent of its cultural milieu. Bassett’s goal was to display folklore in an engaging manner. The folklorist should approach his data as a man of letters rather than one who enshrouded his materials in a coldly clinical scientific style. Because those in charge of the Journal of American Folklore were opposed to this idea, it was necessary to create a new folklore publishing oudet, so in July 1892 the Folk-Lorist, the official publication of the Chicago Folk-Lore Society, appeared. Bassett also produced the Folk-Lore Manual (1892) so that interested parties would know how to go about collecting lore. This publication elucidates Bassett’s concept of folklore more than any other source. Like many of his contemporaries, he believed that “the fast-decaying traditions of our native tribes and of the negroes and mixed races are the most important, and work among them, will, perhaps, bring the most abundant results.” He shared the view of folklore as data that were rapidly disappearing, but, unlike other scholars of the day, he maintained that oral traditions existed among all classes of human beings, not just among primitive and uncivilized people. He even suggested that railroading, telegraphy, and photography were three professions in which folklore could be found in abundance. The Chicago Folk-Lore Society’s crowning achievement was the International Folk- Lore Congress held at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This gathering of scholars from around the world was intended to be of interest to the general public as well as to academics. Although the meeting got off to a good start with a huge audience attending the first session, attendance by both the audience and the academic participants dwindled after the first day. Even the Chicago newspapers commented on the failure of speakers to show up. A greater problem for the society was Bassett’s death shortly after the congress ended. In fact, his loss was fatal to the organization, because no one filled his role. Probably the main reason for this situation is that, except for Bassett, the other resident members were folklore dilettantes. In 1898 the International Folk-Lore Congress of the World’s Columbian Exposition, containing papers from the 1893 congress, appeared, but by that time the society was, for all practical purposes, defunct. With the demise of the Chicago Folk-Lore Society, the idea that folklore was a thing worthy of study in itself also ceased to be an actively espoused concept for nearly a half century Ironically, though, the literary view of folklore won in a sense because most 20th-century folklorists were either trained or influenced by Stith Thompson (1885– 1976) of Indiana University, and Archer Taylor (1890–1973) of University of California, Berkeley, who, while not following the literary approach advocated by the Chicago Folk- Lore Society, were literary folklorists nonetheless. By the 1880s, folklore investigations of the American Indian were in full swing, even though by then the Native American had been examined by investigators of traditional culture for almost four centuries. After so long a time, seemingly every aspect of tribal culture would have received adequate consideration, but there was still one feature of Indian society that lacked intensive examination—music. This situation was soon rectified by a number of people, the first being Theodor Baker, a native of New York City who obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Leipzig with a dissertation based on songs he collected from Senecas in New York State and from members of various tribes at theTraining School for Indian Youth at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. This volume was published in 1882 as Über die Musik der nordamerikanischen Wilden (On the Music of the North American Savages). Seventy-one melodies were printed, thirty-two of which were analyzed in some detail, but, despite the serious tone of Baker’s book and its landmark importance in the history of ethnomusicology, it has remained obscure and little used. Baker’s later lack of interest in Indian music and the fact that his volume was published in German both played a part in its general lack of recognition. Far better known is the work of Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838–1923), an erudite and urbane Bostonian, who almost reached middle age before starting work in ethnomusicology Fletcher struggled to overcome her reaction to Indian music as “screeching cacophony” and her own preconceived ideas concerning “savage” music; she later admitted that she had been enslaved by her previous racially biased training. By 1891 she received a fellowship that enabled her to devote the rest of her life to her Indian studies, the best known of her publications being A Study of Omaha Music (1893). This work was also the major result of her collaboration with John Comfort Fillmore (1843– 1898), who used the study to set forth his theory of primitive music. His was an elaborate, evolutionary scheme that proposed a single line of development for all cultures, based on the study of a specific culture. All music was constructed along “harmonic” lines, folk music differing from art music only in the manner of development. Therefore, all attempts to reduce primitive melodies to scales had to consider the natural harmonies involved. So convinced was Fillmore of this “natural harmonic basis” that he provided harmonizations with the melodies he printed, not merely to make the music more “pleasing” to Western ears, but also to indicate the “true nature” of the tunes. Fillmore never wavered from his theory, and it found acceptance among scholars primarily because it elevated Indian music to an artistic form worthy of respect. At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that the aborigines had no musical sense or genius, particularly when compared to the Negro. The Fillmore-Fletcher work, however, belied this, pointing out that all musics were essentially the same, just in different stages of development. After Fillmore’s death, Fletcher did not publicize his theory, perhaps because her own interests were more general. She produced one other major work, The Hako: A Pawnee Ceremony (1904). Jesse Walter Fewkes (1850–1930) is important as the first American to utilize the phonograph in fieldwork, when in 1890 she used the then new invention to collect songs and tales of the Passamaquoddy tribe in Maine. A short time later, Frances Densmore (1867–1957), destined to become one of the most famous ethnomusicologists of her time, began her work with a collection of Chippewa music. At first she produced mainly popular works, but later she became a thoroughgoing scholar. Like many other ethnomusicologists, she also began to work in isolation from other published materials, as if no one else had ever written on the topics she treated. Few collectors of Indian music had plans as ambitious as Natalie Curtis Burlin (1875– 1921), who wanted to produce a book representative of all North American Indian music. Realizing this was an impossible task, she opted for one hun-dred forty-nine songs from eighteen tribes in The Indians’ Book (1907). She hoped the volume would demonstrate the “latent capabilities” of a people “utterly unlike any other in the world.” Further, she thought that Indian music would provide the art musician with “a new and vigorous art impulse” because the tribe members unconsciously tried “to make beautiful the things of daily living.” This possibility made it imperative that her publication be of a popular nature. A number of classical composers essentially agreed with Burlin that Indian music could be utilized as the basis of artistic compositions. Among the leaders of this movement were Arthur Farwell (1872–1952), establisher of Wa-Wan Press, a venture committed to works developing in “interesting fashion” any indigenous folk music, Charles Wakefield Cadman (1881–1946), and Arthur Nevin (1871–1943). These, and other composers, arranged collections of Indian melodies, inspiring a movement that continued well into the 20th century and eventually included consideration of much more than just Indian music. Another aspect of music received consideration when Francis James Child’s ten- volume collection, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, appeared in 1882 to 1898. Child (1825–1896) saw this as a work of cultural archaeology because he was convinced that ballad singing was a dead art. He was rescuing the cream of the crop from oblivion; hence the The in his title. Ironically, this summing up of the English and Scottish ballad tradition was done before any of the substantive work in Anglo folksong and ballad collecting had been done. In effect, Child motivated that fieldwork; it was almost as if collectors were intent on proving him wrong about ballad singing being a lost art. Consequendy, for approximately fifty years after his final volume appeared, most fieldworkers set about recording variants and versions of Child ballads, and little else. An exception to this trend was Cecil Sharp (1859–1924), an Englishman who traveled the southern Appalachians from 1916 to 1918 collecting all manner of songs that were of English derivation. Another exception was Vance Randolph, the most famous of Ozark folklorists, who spent approximately three decades collecting ballads and folksongs from Ozark mountaineers. Even Randolph, who thought everything sung by a folksinger was important, gave the highest priority to Child ballads, reserving the first volume of his mammoth Ozark Folksongs (1946–1950) to these gems. The study of American dialect began in the 19th century, although, unlike other areas of folklore scholarship, this movement was an outgrowth of neither the Romantic movement nor anthropology, but philology. Most of those who investigated American dialect were ignorant of, or even uninterested in, other genres of oral tradition, a situation not unusual in the history of American folklore studies, so often a history of disunity rather than unity. For his A Vocabulary or Collection of Words and Phrases which have been supposed to be peculiar to the United States of America (1816), John Pickering (1777–1846) deserves credit as the first American dialectologist. More important, however, was John Russell Bartlett (1805–1886), whose Dictionary of Americanisms (1848) was a scholarly best-seller, appearing in two subsequent editions in 1859 and 1877. Bartlett’s theory of dialects depicted them as originating in two ways. First, local language developed from the propinquity of nationalities speaking different tongues borrowing words and phrases from one another. A more fruitful and permanent source was migration, and its effects could be seen in England, where “the immigrations of various nations into Great Britain from the Saxons down to the period of the Norman conquest are yet distinctly marked in the dialects of that country.” Thus, one could know beforehand exactly when and where variations from standard language could occur, important because Bartlett thought it only a matter of a few generations until the United States would witness a proliferation of dialects as marked as those of Great Britain. Bartlett’s collection and that of his protege Maximilian Schele De Vere (1820–1898), who produced Americanisms: The English of the New World (1871), were gathered mainly from printed sources. This was not the case with Benjamin Homer Hall’s A Collection of College Words and Customs (1851), a potpourri including everything from folk terms to an explanation of the Dudleian Lecture, an anniversary sermon preached at Harvard University, to a discussion of Harvard’s merit system. Of course, Hall had to rely mainly on oral sources because many of the “odd words and queer customs” he sought were not written down. Even though he directed his attention to the unusual and the uncommon, Hall deserves credit not only for compiling one of the early works on dialect, but also for producing the first book dealing with college folklore. In 1890, two years after the founding of the American Folklore Society, the American Dialect Society was established. Almost from the outset, one of the society’s goals was to produce a dictionary that would provide “a complete record of American speech forms.” Toward this goal, word lists from various areas of the United States appeared in virtually every issue of Dialect Notes, the organization’s journal. Even so, more than one hundred years later the envisioned dialect dictionary has yet to appear, a testament to the difficulty of the task. What society members had in mind was something akin to Joseph Wright’s six-volume English Dialect Dictionary (1898–1905), but the problems in this country are different from those encountered by Wright. Americans are more fluid, both geographically and socially, than Europeans, making the development of an extensive local speech more difficult. Distinctions between dialect and standard speech are also less rigid in the New World; regional terms frequently appear in the usage of the educated; “illiterate” features repeatedly crop up in the works of local-color novelists. Compilers of general dicdonaries have usually recognized these facts and included in their compilations a number of dialectal terms. America is also much larger, both geographically and demographically, and less homogeneous than England. Furthermore, when Wright started work, much of the labor had already been done in the form of published glossaries of English county dialects, and, in addition, local correspondents were available for consultation whenever needed. Dialectologists made the same kinds of errors other folklorists committed, the basic one being an overcommitment to collecting and an undercommitment to gathering material in context. Motivated by a desire to recover every item of dialect before it was lost or by some other equally charitable goal, most collectors found little time or need to do more than provide a listing of materials. In one regard, however, dialectological work was ahead of most other folklore collecting done prior to the 20th century. Dialectologists never confined their subject matter to a savage or peasant state of society or, in fact, to any single group of people. They rightly saw it as belonging to all classes and periods of society. Had work in the many areas of folklore been more unified at the time, other scholars might have benefited from this attitude. One final group of scholars active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that deserve mention are what might be called “the overseas folklorists.” These were men like Charles Godfrey Leland (1824–1903), Jeremiah Curtin (1835–1906), and Lafcadio Hearn (1850– 1904), who were peripatetic scholars who spent so much time in other parts of the globe that they never had time or opportunity to develop strong followings at home. Still, their contributions are significant in the history of American folklore studies, for their large number of publications, if nothing else. Work in the various areas of folklore studies mentioned in this survey continued in the 20th century. These later works are covered in other entries of this encyclopedia, so are not repeated here. W.K.McNeil References Bassett, Fletcher. [1885] 1971. Legends and Superstitions of the Sea and of Sailors. Detroit: Singing Tree Press. Bisland, Elizabeth, ed. 1906. The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Crane, Thomas Frederick. 1888. The Diffusion of Popular Tales. Journal of American Folklore 1:8–15. Darrah, William Culp. 1951. Powell of the Colomdo. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dundes, Alan. 1973. African Tales among the North American Indians. In Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel: Readings in the Interpretation of Afro-American Folklore. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, pp. 114–125. Fillmore, John Comfort. The Harmonic Structure of Indian Music. American Anthropologist 1:297– 318. Goldschmidt, Walter, ed. 1959. The Anthropology of Franz Boas. Menasha, WI: American Anthropological Association. Hale, Horatio. 1890. “Above” and “Below”: A Mythological Disease of Language. Journal of American Folklore 3:177–190.

Hofmann, Charles. 1968. Frances Densmore and American Indian Music: A Memorial Volume.
New York: Museum of the American Indian.
Judd, Neil. 1967. The Bureau of American Ethnology: A Partial History. Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press.
Powell, John Wesley. 1895. The Interpretation of Folklore. Journal of American Folklore 8:97–
Wallashek, Richard. 1893. Primitive Music: An Inquiry into the Origin and Development of Music,
Songs, Instruments, Dances, and Pantomimes of Savage Races. London: Longmans, Green
See also American Studies and Folklore; Applied Folklore; Canadian Folklore
Scholarship; Canadian Studies and Folklore; Comparative Approach; Contextual
Approach; Cultural Studies; Ethnomusicology; Folklife Movement; Functionalism;
Immigrant Folklore, Study of; Material Culture; Oral-Formulaic Approach; Performance
Approach; Postmodernism; Psychology and Folklore; Semiotic Approach; Sociological
Approach; Structural Approach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *