American Folklore Society

Last updated

American Folklore Society
Type Professional association
Headquarters Bloomington, Indiana
  • United States
Marilyn White
Key people
Jessica A. Turner, Executive Director

The American Folklore Society (AFS) is the US-based professional association for folklorists, with members from the US, Canada, and around the world, which aims to encourage research, aid in disseminating that research, promote the responsible application of that research, publish various forms of publications, advocate for the continued study and teaching of folklore, etc. [1] The Society is based at Indiana University and has an annual meeting every October. [2] The Society's quarterly publication is the Journal of American Folklore . The current president is Marilyn White. [3]


As of 2016, almost half of its 2,200 members practice their work outside higher education. In addition to professors, members include public folklorists, arts administrators, freelance researchers, librarians, museum curators, and others involved in the study and promotion of folklore and traditional culture. [4]


AFS was founded in 1888 by William Wells Newell, [5] who stood at the center of a diverse group of university-based scholars, museum anthropologists, and men and women of letters and affairs. In 1945, the society became a member of the American Council of Learned Societies. [6] AFS is also an active member of the National Humanities Alliance (NHS). [7]

Over the years, prominent members of the American Folklore Society known outside academic circles have included Marius Barbeau, Franz Boas, Ben Botkin, Jan Harold Brunvand, Linda Dégh, Ella Deloria, William Ferris, John Miles Foley, Joel Chandler Harris, Zora Neale Hurston, James P. Leary, Alan Lomax, John A. Lomax, Kay Turner, and Mark Twain. Past presidents have included Samuel Preston Bayard, Henry Glassie, Diane Goldstein, Dorothy Noyes, and Dell Hymes.

Past Presidents


AFS awards various prizes to honor outstanding work in the field of folklore, at the opening ceremony of the annual AFS meeting. These include the following:

Other prizes are awarded annually, by different sections of the American Folklore Society.

Every other year (in alternating years), AFS awards the following prizes:

See also

Related Research Articles

John Lomax American musicologist and folklorist (1867–1948)

John Avery Lomax was an American teacher, a pioneering musicologist, and a folklorist who did much for the preservation of American folk music. He was the father of Alan Lomax, John Lomax Jr. and Bess Lomax Hawes, also distinguished collectors of folk music.

Folklore studies Branch of anthropology devoted to the study of folklore

Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or folk life studies in the United Kingdom, is the branch of anthropology devoted to the study of folklore. This term, along with its synonyms, gained currency in the 1950s to distinguish the academic study of traditional culture from the folklore artifacts themselves. It became established as a field across both Europe and North America, coordinating with Volkskunde (German), folkeminner (Norwegian), and folkminnen (Swedish), among others.

Jan Harold Brunvand

Jan Harold Brunvand is a retired American folklorist, researcher, writer, public speaker, and professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah.

Benjamin Albert Botkin was an American folklorist and scholar.

Alfred Irving "Pete" Hallowell was an award-winning American anthropologist, archaeologist and businessman.

William Wells Newell (1839–1907) was an American folklorist, school teacher, minister and philosophy professor.

Henry Glassie, College Professor Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington, has done fieldwork on five continents and written books on the full range of folkloristic interest, from drama, song, and story to craft, art, and architecture. Three of his books -- Passing the Time in Ballymenone, The Spirit of Folk Art, and Turkish Traditional Art Today -- were named among the "Notable Books of the Year" by The New York Times. Glassie has won many awards for his work, including the Charles Homer Haskins Prize of the American Council of Learned Societies for a distinguished career of humanistic scholarship. A film on his work, directed by Pat Collins and titled Henry Glassie: Field Work, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019.

<i>Journal of American Folklore</i> Academic journal

The Journal of American Folklore is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the American Folklore Society. Since 2003, this has been done on its behalf by the University of Illinois Press. The journal has been published since the society's founding in 1888. It publishes on a quarterly schedule and incorporates scholarly articles, essays, and notes relating to its field. It also includes reviews of books, exhibitions and events.

Wayland Debs Hand was an American folklorist.

Richard Bauman is a folklorist and anthropologist, now retired from Indiana University Bloomington. He is Distinguished Professor emeritus of Folklore, of Anthropology, and of Communication and Culture. Before coming to IU in 1985, he was the Director of the Center for Intercultural Studies in Folklore and Ethnomusicology at the University of Texas and a faculty member in the UT Department of Anthropology. Just before retiring from Indiana, he was chair of the IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, as well as an important member of the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Communication and Culture.

Pravina Shukla, Ph.D. is Provost Professor of Folklore at Indiana University Bloomington and serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, Department of American Studies, the Dhar India Studies Program, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She is also a consulting curator at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

Dorothy Noyes is an American folklorist and ethnologist whose comparative, ethnographic and historical research focuses on European societies and upon European immigrant communities in the United States. Beyond its area studies context, her work has aimed to enrich the conceptual toolkit of folklore studies (folkloristics) and ethnology. General problems upon which she has focused attention include the status of "provincial" communities in national and global contexts, heritage policies and politics, problems of innovation and creativity, and the nature of festival specifically and of cultural displays and representations generally.

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Folklore Institute refers to the folklore studies program of Indiana University Bloomington (USA). The Folklore Institute, together with the Ethnomusicology Institute, constitute the larger Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. The Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology is a unit of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Linda Dégh was a folklorist and professor of Folklore & Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, USA.

Kay Turner

Kay Turner is an artist and scholar working across disciplines including performance, writing, music, exhibition curation, and public and academic folklore. She is noted for her feminist writings and performances on subjects such as women’s home altars, fairy tale witches, and historical goddess figures. She co-founded “Girls in the Nose,” a lesbian feminist rock punk band that anticipated riot grrl.

Don Yoder was an American folklorist specializing in the study of Pennsylvania Dutch, Quaker, and Amish and other Anabaptist folklife in Pennsylvania who wrote at least 15 books on these subjects.

The Wayland D. Hand Prize is an award given by the History and Folklore section of the American Folklore Society (AFS) for the best book combining historical and folkloristic methods and materials. The biennial prize honors the eminent folklorist Wayland D. Hand (1907-1986), a former president of the American Folklore Society (1955-1967) who in his teaching and scholarship encouraged historical methodology in folklore research.

Jane C. Beck American folklorist and oral historian

Jane C. Beck is an American folklorist and oral historian. She is Executive Director Emeritus and founder of the Vermont Folklife Center and has published research on the folklore of Vermont and on African American belief systems.

MacEdward Leach (1892-1967) was an American folklorist, whose work "greatly influenced the development of folklore as an academic discipline".


  1. "Bylaws". American Folklore Society. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  2. "AFS to Move to Indiana University - American Folklore Society". Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  3. "Executive Board - American Folklore Society". Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  4. "American Folklore Society". Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  5. Bell, Michael J (June–August 1973). "William Wells Newell and the Foundation of American Folklore Scholarship". Journal of the Folklore Institute . 10 (1/2): 7–21. doi:10.2307/3813877. JSTOR   3813877.
  6. "American Folklore Society". Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  7. "Members List". National Humanities Alliance. May 25, 2013. Archived from the original on July 4, 2013.
  8. "Women's Section". American Folklore Society. Retrieved December 28, 2011. Each year, the Women’s Section of the American Folklore Society awards two prizes in honor of pioneering scholar Elli Köngäs-Maranda.
  9. "W.W. Newell Prize". American Folklore Society. Retrieved December 28, 2011. The Children's Folklore Section annually offers the W. W. Newell Prize, which includes a cash award, for the best student essay on a topic in children's folklore.
  10. "Aesop Prize and Aesop Accolades". American Folklore Society. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  11. "History and Folklore Section: Wayland D. Hand Prize". American Folklore Society.
  12. "AFS Prizes", Retrieved May 25, 2013.