What is Folklore?
verbal lore: things people make with their words.
material lore: things people make with their hands.
customary lore: things people make with their actions.
William "Bert" Wilson
“The word "folklore" was coined
by Englishman William J. Thoms in 1846 to describe "traditional
culture". He was describing songs passed down through families
for hundreds of years.
Every Group bound together or by common interests
and purposes, whether educated or uneducated, rural or urban,
possesses a body of traditions which may be called its folklore.
Into these traditions enter many elements, individual, popular,
and even “literary,” but all are absorbed and assimilated
through repetition and variation into a pattern which has value
and continuity for the group as a whole. ~Ben
Botkin in 1938
“Folk-lore is the essence of the cultural
inheritance of a people. Fiction may betray them and documented
history may miss their spirit entirely, but folk-lore is their
very breath. The epics of the Greeks, and the operas of Wagner
were woven out of it. The works of Shakespeare, Cervantes, Robert
Burns, and Mark Twain, are saturated and lusty with it."
often regarded as a mode of expression which emphasizes the human
and the personal as opposed
to the formal and institutional
Oral History collection project
“Community Memories:customs and traditions that make communities unique.”
The 'plan' is to visit local communities among the 105 Kansas Counties- as time and energy will allows.
Our intention is to invite local folks to record their favorite memories, recipes, songs, proverbs, jokes, etc., they've heard from someone in their parents generation. A composite recording will then be made available to the public through local museums or libraries.
This project has not yet found funding, so a lot of effort is spent locating in kind donations, and venues at which we can ‘hang our banner‘, but enthusiasts among the Kansas Folklore Society are dedicated to recording as many community memories as possible.
Nothing like this collection project has been undertaken by the Kansas Folklore Society--or its members, since the 1950’s and 1960’s--the early days of our society.
If you know of a community that would provide our nonprofit society informant sources for collecting folklore by recording local memories, or if you would like to volunteer to be part of a field collection team, please feel free to contact me.
...so what has been and what must eventually be, may come together
with fluid but deliberate momentum. ~mike watowa
The Kansas Folklore Society is a non-profit entity;
first organized in 1956 by: Wm. Koch, S.J. Sackett and Joan O’Bryant,
who were soon joined by members from all walks of life, dedicated
to the preservation, publication, study, and celebration of folk
materials and local history in Kansas and adjoining areas.
- To promote collection,
archiving, study and celebration of folk traditions which have
developed or exist in the state of Kansas and
- To provide those interested in folklore with
opportunities to discuss and share their common interests.
- To stimulate public opinion to the appreciation
of the FOLKLORE.
- To encourage and aid in the preservation of
the materials of folk culture, both locally and statewide."
- To celebrate folkloric traditions found in
our stories, songs, and lives.
The Kansas Folklore Society is always looking
for people who revive or nuture existing folk skills and traditions.
We want to encourage their progress and showcase their talents.
Share worthy talent with us:
American Folklife Center
Field School...Summer 2004
at Bringham Young Universitydocumenting regional traditions
“out on a limb”
West of the Rockies in the Great Basin, the summer wind -- perfumed with sweet grass and sagebrush -- ripples into the triple-digit heat surrounding the ‘shelves’ and ’benches’ of the Wasatch Mountains.
This romantic image led two intrepid Kansas Folklore Society members, Missouri River bottoms resident Gloria Throne of Buchanan County, Missouri and tallgrass prairie Kansan Mike Watowa, into the mirages of the Salt Lake Valley: They joined thirteen other students (ages from 18 to 65) from across the United States -- and Cairo, Egypt -- for the educational experience of the American Folklife Center’s Ninth Annual Field School project Titled “The Fruits of Their Labors.”
This year’s project focused on the orchard culture of Orem, Utah -- the first effort in a statewide multi-year program titled “The Utah Heritage Project.” This year’s field school (and next) was (and will be) held on the impressive campus of Brigham Young University.
After absorbing nine weeks’ training (approx) in three weeks, the field school graduates generally agreed that this is an ambitious project. As with most field work, the closer you look, the more there is to see. Classroom orientation with Utah Folklorists combined with American Folklife Center expertise developed a well-rounded, broad-ranging, comprehensive curriculum.
. The preliminary analysis of data suggests that although local “orchard traditions” are in transition to an undefined future in twenty-first century Utah, the community values borne by those traditions appear to remain intact--at least for the time being.
For the intrepid field researchers from the
Missouri River bottom and the Kansas tall grass prairie, the program was an irreplaceable experience.
Future travelers: “Be forewarned! If you wander west of the ‘divide’ after the Summer Solstice, beware the heat and elevation!” ~mlw ~~ Photos courtesy of field school student Russell Bachart