Folklorist, teacher, and editor of folklore collections. Hudson was born in Attala County,
Mississippi. He earned his B.S. and M.A. degrees (1913, 1920) from the University of
Mississippi and taught there. After a second M.A. (1925) from the University of Chicago,
and a Ph.D. (1930) from the University of North Carolina, he accepted a position at the
University of North Carolina, where he taught folklore and British romantic literature. He
received a Kenan Professorship in 1951.
Hudson became aware of folklore as an academic field from E.C.Perrow, his freshman
English instructor at the University of Mississippi, and he formed his scholarly
approaches in subsequent study with Louise Pound and Archer Taylor at the University
of Chicago. His motivation for folklore research probably derived from experiences he
described in an autobiographical sketch, “An Attala Boyhood” (Hudson 1942), and is
most clearly seen in his published lecture series, Folklore Keeps the Past Alive (1962).
Although his books are clearly a product of their time, Folksongs of Mississippi and
Their Background (1936), Humor of the Old Deep South (1936), and Folklore in
American Literature (1958) show him to be a meticulous editor of texts. With
H.M.Belden, he edited the two volumes of song texts in The Frank C.Brown Collection
of North Carolina Folklore and was probably the best of many editors who collaborated
on that work.
Hudson succeeded Frank C.Brown as secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina
Folklore Society and guided it for more than twenty years. During that time, he edited the
society’s journal, North Carolina Folklore.
From 1950 until 1963, Hudson served as head of the curriculum in folklore at the
University of North Carolina. At the close of his teaching career, he donated his materials
to the University of Mississippi and the University of North Carolina. The latter
collection formed the nucleus of the university’s Southern Folklife Collection, one of the
nation’s major folklore archives.
Howeli, A.C. 1956. The Kenan Professorships. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, pp.
Hudson, A.P. 1942. An Attala Boyhood. Journal of Mississippi History 4:59–75, 127–155.
Patterson, Daniel W., ed. 1965. Folklore Studies in Honor of Arthur Palmer Hudson. Chapel Hill:
North Carolina Folklore Society.