The Folklore Wiki > In Memoriam
Note: any AFS member may add to this page
Bayless, Kara Nicole (1982-2010). Kara Bayless, a PhD student at Indiana University, delivered her final AFS presentation on Thursday morning 2010 before we lost her on Saturday afternoon. Born in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Kara loved the Middle West, but also Russia, her scholarly passion. She crossed boundaries in her Masters degrees as well, bridging the fields of education, library science, and folklore to explore how the classification of children’s books of Russian folktales impacts how they are utilized to meet academic standards for language education and to teach folklore in elementary schools. As part of a 2008 summer research team in Siberia, Kara collected folk songs, embroidery patterns, and oral histories. Somewhere between St. Petersburg and Vladivostok on the trans-Siberian railroad, her interest in the material culture of Ukrainian-Siberian villages flowered into dissertation plans. In the classroom, Kara was an inspired and committed teacher, recognized with the department's Henry Glassie Teaching Award. With a ready, infectious laugh and relentless determination, she invested deeply and generously in all her relationships. In the spirit of remembrance and gratitude for her own generosity, enthusiasm, and scholarly dedication, the IU Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology has set up the Kara Bayless Memorial Fund to provide money for financial awards to support graduate students in the department. Donations to the fund may be sent care of the department.
Bergengren, Charles (1947-2012). When Charlie Bergengren, a professor at Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), passed away on July 16, 2012, the world of folklore lost a citizen unlike any other. Prior to beginning graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979, Charlie had been a projectionist for the Anthology Film Archives, an actor with the Ontological-Hysteric Theater in New York City, and had hobnobbed with avant-garde filmmakers and artists. In counterpoint to his interests in the avant-garde, his folklore research focused on highly traditional Pennsylvania German vernacular architecture in general, and the flurkuchenhaus, the entry door to which opens into a kitchen dominated by a large hearth, in specific. In Charlie’s own heart, the avant-garde and the folk together offered a single, searing critique of contemporary society. In 1991, he joined the faculty of Cleveland Institute of Art, becoming one of the nation’s few folklorists to teach in an art history curriculum. In addition to art history, he taught courses on American vernacular architecture, folk and outsider art, and avant-garde film. He became beloved by many of his students, for the world-encompassing scope of his thought and for his transgressiveness. He published articles on Pennsylvania German vernacular architecture, folk art, lesbian and gay folklore, and performance art. In the Spring of 2012, CIA awarded him the Viktor Schreckengost Teaching Award, its highest award, rarely given to liberal arts faculty. He leaves unpublished writings on Pennsylvania German house types and an awesome but incomplete art history text, written with the voice of a gonzo queer folklorist who lives, searches, longs, and loves, artists, elite and folk, who live, search, long and love, in historical and cultural context. He also left us with the charge to "Read something irrelevant every day... Go on every journey.... Make love in every possible way.... Have a blast exploring the world. And make art that will blast us out of the water." See also "Charles Bergengren was a colorful Cleveland Institute of Art professor" The Plain Dealer (July 24, 2012).
Bradley, Matthew Wade (1970-2012). Dr. Matthew Wade Bradley died unexpectedly on March 20, 2012 at his Utah home. He was 41. Matt’s generosity, good humor, incisive commentary, passionate teaching, and social advocacy will be sorely missed. Matt received his PhD in folklore from Indiana University. Matt was active in the Folklore Student Association, edited Folklore Forum and Trickster Press, and invented folklore propaganda, including Vladimir Propp and Claude Levi-Strauss t-shirts, and the famous "Folklore Rules” bumper sticker.We especially remember Matt for his commitment to social justice, encouraging marginalized young people to document their own communities and tell their own stories. He battled with Human Subjects to do this work, which informed his dissertation and continued throughout his career. Matt led a distinguished teaching career at the University of Utah, inspiring hundreds of students by living a life of commitment, vision and compassion. In addition to many teaching awards, in 2010 Matt received special recognition from ACLU of Utah "For Fostering Freedom." An enthusiastic cyclist, Matt was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.He lost his right leg, yet qualified for a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Cycling National team ten months later and competed for Team USA at the World Championships in Denmark. He was named Cycling Utah - 2011 Rider of the Year. Following Matt’s passing, his facebook page teemed with accolades from students, cancer survivors, athletes, artists, scholars, and activists. He will be remembered for his ready smile, his impressive collection of hats and varied constellations of facial hair, and his ability to combine laughter with impassioned stances on important social issues. "So long!! It's been a good ride." See also Obituary, Salt Lake Tribune (March 23-35, 2012).
Calame-Griaule, Geneviève (?–2013). Geneviève Calame-Griaule, France’s leading figure in the study of oral literature, died on 23 August 2013. She was the daughter of the anthropologist Marcel Griaule, and followed him in the ethnographic study of the Dogon of Mali. Her 1965 book Ethnologie et langage (translated by Deirdre LaPin as Words and the Dogon World) founded the discipline of ethnolinguistics in France. Her many students and colleagues followed up her work with field studies in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia, always paying tribute to her leadership. She kept up with the work of American folklorists paralleling her own, notably Dell Hymes, and continued to write and publish till the end of her long life.
Carey, George G. (1934-2013). See http://knox.villagesoup.com/p/george-g-carey/972520
Coffin, Tristram P. ( 1922--2012). Tristram Coffin,born in San Marino, California, a scion of a pedigreed family whose ancestor was among the first settlers in Nantucket in the 17th century, was a leading American folklorist and an international ballad scholar. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Folklore Society in 1960 and served as its Secretary-Treasurer from 1961 to 1965. After graduating from Haverford College in 1943, he served in the Army Air Forces. Upon discharge, he attended the University of Virginia and in 1946 transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he studied with Professor MacEdward Leach, specializing in English, Scottish and American ballads. His dissertation The British Traditional Ballad in North America (1949), was published a year later and became a key work in ballad scholarship. Tris started teaching at Denison University in Granville, Ohio (1950), where he was elected into the Athletic Hall of Fame, and where a scholarship was created in his name. In 1953 he was a Guggenheim Fellow, and in 1958 he was appointed as an Associate Professor in the English Department of the University of Pennsylvania.Four years later, in 1962, he became a founding member of the Folklore and Folklife Department, and in 1965-1968 hewas vice dean in the Graduate School of Arts. He retired in 1984. Looking back at his teaching career, he singled out as one of his most interesting activities teaching Shakespeare and other poetry in 1962-63 at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The ballad remained the main stay of Tris’ scholarship. He edited, with excellent critical annotations, four volumes of Ancient Ballads Traditionally Sung in New England, compiled and edited by Helen Hartness Flanders (1960-1965), and together with MacEdward Leach the volume of Critics and the Ballad (1961). As a service for folklorists he prepared the Analytical Index to the Journal of American folklore (1958), and for the students he edited Our Living Traditions: An Introduction to American Folklore (1968). He also extended his research beyond the ballad and published Uncertain Glory: Folklore and the American Revolution(1971), The Book of Christmas Folklore(1973); Female Hero in Folklore and Legend (1975), Proper Book of Sexual Folklore (1978) and edited with Hennig Cohen four books on folklore in America. He was a public folklorist before the term existed and made more than 100 media appearances, hosting the series "Lyrics and Legends” on National Educational Television (NET) and the Voice of America’s series on American folklore. In addition to his love for ballads and books he was an athlete, directing a summer tennis camps and refereeing soccer games. His love for sport generated his book The Old Ball Game: Baseball in Folklore and Fiction (1971) and the only novel he wrote Great Game for a Girl (1980). A witty scholar, he described folklore "as a bastard field that anthropology begot upon English.” See also Margalit Fox, "Tristram P. Coffin, Folklorist, Dies at 89" New York Times (February 13, 2012).
Foley, John Miles (1947-2012). Few knew that John Miles Foley had been battling cancer since 2010, since his illness did little to slow him down or interrupt his work. John Foley was born in Massachusetts in 1947. After completing his Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts-Amhurst, he continued the field research begun by his mentor, Albert Bates Lord in the former Yugoslavia on living oral epic. Foley’s subsequent work in oral tradition and oral formulaic theory drove his groundbreaking work as a medievalist and classicist. As a professor at the University of Missouri for more than thirty years, John Foley will be remembered for his commitment to the accessibility of knowledge and resources for all, the fierce loyalty and trust he placed in his students, and his rare ability to look at the familiar and see strange and new possibilities. In his final years, John Foley continued to expand the boundaries of his field. As editor of Oral Tradition he ensured that the journal would remain open access and free of charge to scholars around the world. Foley built strong relationships with Chinese scholars of folklore and oral tradition, and he pushed our understanding of knowledge and transmission through his work with oral tradition and information technology in the Pathways Project. It is hard for us, his former students and colleagues, to separate our understanding of John Foley from our understanding of the epics he unfolded for us, but perhaps by turning to the death of warriors like Beowulf or Hector we can begin to appreciate what we have lost and what we can yet learn. See also Obituary, Columbia Missourian (May 8, 2012).
Kennedy, Stetson (1916-2011). Stetson Kennedy was a folklorist, oral historian, writer, anti-poverty government employee, and a lifelong Floridian. Most of all, he was a tireless activist for liberal causes throughout the 20th century -- battling against racism and poverty while advocating for labor unions, immigration reform and environmental causes. He died on August 27th, 2011 at the age of 94, but his legacy lives on in the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, with a mission to "carry forward mankind's unending struggle for human rights in a free, peaceful, harmonious, democratic, just, humane, bounteous and joyful world, to nurture our cultural heritages, and to faithfully discharge our commitment of stewardship over Mother Earth and all her progeny.”Kennedy began his folklore career as the head of the Folklore Unit of Florida’s Federal Writers Project in the 1930s, where he worked with Ben Botkin, Zora Neale Hurston, Alan Lomax and Herbert Halpert. He was a senior editor for the Florida State Guide Book of that project and then wrote a cultural study of Florida, Palmetto Country.He is best known for infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in Stone Mountain, GA, in the early 1940s and his work to combat segregation and racism in the South resulted in two books: I Rode with the Ku Klux Klan and the satirical Jim Crow Guide to the USA.Kennedycontinued to be an activist, folklorist and writer for his entire life. In addition to his earlier books, he is the author of South Florida Folklife (with Tina Bucuvalas and Peggy A. Bulger), After Appomattox: How the South Won the War, and Grits & Grunts: Folkloric Key West (written in 2008 when Stetson was 91).He is the recipient of many awards, including the Florida Folk Heritage Award, induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Historical Society, the NAACP Freedom Award, and the Cavello Prize for Civic Courage.Stetson was a friend and mentor to many and he demonstrated the potential that we, as practicing folklorists, have to use our folklore training to change people’s lives. He will be missed.
McCulloh, Judith (1935-2014). Judy McCulloh was born in 1935 in Spring Valley, Illinois and grew up in Northmoor Orchard near Peoria. She died in the early hours of July 13, 2014,in Urbana, Illinois. During her 30 years as an editor at the University of Illinois Press, Judy was the creator and guiding force behind the Folklore in Society Series, which produced 13 books, and the Music in American Life Series, which produced 130 titles and garnered 20 Deems Taylor ASCAP awards. The Music in American Life Series is a towering achievement, producing scores of books that have changed the way we think about music and culture. Any book she ushered through to publication could be trusted to be substantial, informative and fun to read. Through the Music in America Series in particular, Judy established folk and roots music and other forms of popular music as respected fields of inquiry to an extent never achieved before. She truly raised the bar. Judy received her Ph.D. in folklore from Indiana University. She was President of the American Folklore Society in 1987 and served on the Executive Board as well. She was also the Treasurer of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 1982-86 and remained active with SEM for over 50 years. She served on the Board of the American Folklife Center for many years, chairing the Board through some of the difficult period when the fight for the Center’s permanent Congressional re-authorization was especially heated and the outcome in doubt. We are thankful that she rose to this challenge. She received numerous honors and Lifetime Achievement Awards during her life from the organizations she worked with. She was elected to the AFS Fellows. She received Distinguished Service Awards from the University of Illinois, Ohio Wesleyan University (an alma mater) and the Society for Ethnomusicology. In 2010, Judy received the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA, which is given for major contributions to the excellence, vitality and public appreciation of the folk and traditional arts. Awards are not the measure of a woman or man but in this instance they stand as small tokens of the great esteem in which Judy was held by so many. There are many in this Society who are deeply indebted to Judy McCulloh, and many in the folklore field writ large who are thankful for her devoted service, forthrightness and generous spirit.
Mitchell, Roger E. (1925-2011). Cancer took the life of Roger E. Mitchell on July 23, 2011, in Portland, Maine. He was born on September 14, 1925, in Merrill, Maine, the third of 14 children to Don and Pearl Tozier Mitchell. As a teenager, Roger served with the Marines in the Pacific during WW II before graduating from Merrill High School in 1947. In 1950, he was recalled to active duty during the Korean Emergency, after which he received a BA in English from Ricker College in 1953. In 1954, he earned an MA in English from the University of Maine, where he took a folklore course from Sandy Ives, who was one influence on Roger’s decision to become a folklorist. Roger taught seven years in Maine high schools and four years at the University of Guam before enrolling in the folklore program at Indiana University. After receiving the Ph.D. in 1967, he joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he taught folklore and anthropology courses for 27 years and served a stint as department chairperson. Noteworthy among Roger’s publications are his collection of Micronesian folktales and his monographs on legends of George Knox, personal experience tales of Don Mitchell, history and traditions of a Wisconsin farm family, and erotic tales of Micronesia. In 1970-71, he was Scholar in Residence at the University of Guam, and in 1975, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for the study of Micronesian folktale types and motifs. Roger was a master storyteller as well as an exceptional folklorist, and those who knew him will miss hearing his tales of Fat Frankie Bates and other old-time Maine loggers.
Morgan, Kathryn (1919-2010). When Kathryn Morgan, former Emerita Professor in History and Folklore at Swarthmore College, first published her African American family stories of survival in 1966, she anticipated the fields of family folklore and storytelling. Her ground-breaking book, Children of Strangers (1980), explored the power of African American family stories as buffers in cultivating justice and love, and in exposing lies. It helped us address key questions: How do you keep dignity and spirit intact in the face of racism and injustice? What do we know and need to know about one another? In all facets of her work—scholarly and creative writing, teaching, storytelling, and "holding court,” Kathryn exemplified a way to be in the world. She documented, performed, and encouraged these stories in her own many extended families, embracing all the "children of strangers.” Born and raised in Philadelphia, Morgan earned an MA from Howard University and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Kathryn came to the "formal” field with more than a graduate degree: she brought deep knowledge bestowed and nurtured by her family and the community. She was a former Executive Board member of the American Folklore Society, and additional professional affiliations included the National Council of Black Studies, the Association of African and African American Folklorists, the National Afrocentric Institute, and the Philadelphia Folklore Project, upon whose board she sat in the early 1990s. She was also a 2006 honoree of the National Association of Black Storytellers. Kathryn L. Morgan was a radical scholar, ahead of her time. She knew who she was, and self-knowledge was part of her power and gift to others—kin and stranger alike. (Courtesy Swarthmore College for some of the above.)
Narváez, Peter (1942-2011). The discipline of folklore lost one of its greatest champions with the passing of Peter Narváez on November 11, 2011. Peter was a faculty member in the Department of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland for more than thirty years (1974-1995) where he taught and researched across a broad range of subject areas, including vernacular song, blues, jazz, Newfoundland folklore, popular culture, folk custom and belief, and occupational folklife. In addition to publishing many articles, Peter edited three major collections of essays, including the ground-breaking Media Sense: The Folklore-Popular Culture Continuum(with Martin Laba,1986). After his death, a collection of his revised essays was published under the title, Sonny’s Dream. Peter was a past president of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada and the Association for the Study of Canadian Radio and Television. He was audio-visual editor for Ethnologiesand sound recordings review editor for The Journal of American Folklore. In 2002 he co-edited with Pauline Greenhill a special issue of JAF on Canadian folklore. In 2006 Peter was awarded the Marius Barbeau Medal by the Folklore Studies Association of Canada in recognition of his contributions to Canadian folklore studies. An outstanding blues musician and composer, he was central to the creation of a blues community in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2012 Music Nl honored him posthumously with a life-time achievement award. Everyone who knew Peter Narváez felt his deep commitment to his students, to Newfoundland and Labrador, and to the discipline of folklore. See also Neil V. Rosenberg, "Remembering Peter," MMaP Newsletter (Winter 2012), published by the Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place, Memorial University.
Noy, Dov (1920-2013), renowned folklorist and ethnologist, of blessed memory passed away on September 29, 2013. Born on October 20, 1920 in Kolomyja, Poland, he immigrated in 1938 to Palestine where he began his academic studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He obtained his doctorate in folklore from Indiana University in 1954 with a dissertation on the motif-index of Talmudic-Midrashic tales (under the name Dov Neuman). In 1955 he began his teaching career at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he taught aggadah, folk literature, general folklore, and Yiddish. He became professor and holder of the Max Grunwald Chair of Folklore and Hebrew Literature. From this post, he had a profound influence on the development of folklore studies in Israel, mentoring many students and colleagues to engage with folklore and ethnology. His travel and advocacy for folklore are legendary: he taught and lectured all over the world, particularly on folk narrative and Jewish folklore. He founded and directed the Haifa Ethnological Museum and Folklore Archives (1956–82) and edited the Israel Folktale Archives Publications series until 1981. He founded the Israel Folktale Archives in 1955, now named after him. He was director of the Hebrew University Folklore Research Center from 1968 and edited its journal. He served as the Encyclopaedia Judaica departmental editor for folklore. He started the folklore section at Haifa University within the department of Hebrew Literature. From 1985 to 1992, he served as professor of Yiddish Folklore at Bar-Ilan University. In 1992–93 he served as professor of folk literature at Ben-Gurion University and in 1995–96 professor of folklore at Haifa University. In addition to teaching in Israeli universities, Noy devoted himself to spreading Jewish folk culture all over the world. He also wrote and edited about 60 books, including in English Folktales of Israel, Jewish Folktales from Morocco, and Studies In Biblical and Jewish Folklore. In 2004 he was awarded the Israel Prize for literary research. Biographies of Dov Noy can be found in the Encyclopedia Judaica, Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore And Traditions (ed. Haya Bar-Itzhak), Who's Who In Israel and Jewish Personalities from All Over the World, and in the Hebrew Wikipedia.
Rosenberg, Bruce A. (194?-2010). Bruce Rosenberg leaves a lasting legacy through his writings on oral tradition, African American performance style, the culture of the American West, and through the many students he taught and mentored. Professor of English and American Civilization at Brown University, 1977-2000, Rosenberg also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UC Santa Barbara, University of Virginia, and Penn State. He chaired the Program in American Civilization at Brown from 1977 to 1979 and again from 1983 to 1986. He was the author of eleven books, including Can These Bones Live? The Art of the American Folk Preacher (1975, 1988), Custer and the Epic of Defeat (1966), Folklore and Literature: Rival Siblings (1991), and with Mary Ellen Brown, The Encyclopedia of Folklore and Literature (1998), as well as more than 60 articles. He was awarded fellowships by the Mellon Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Huntington Library, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Humanities Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Newbury Library. He received numerous awards, including the James Russell Lowell Prize in 1970 and the Chicago Folklore Prize in 1970 and 1976. He was a member of the American Folklore Society and the Modern Language Association.
Stewart, Polly (1943-2013). See http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/deseretnews/obituary.aspx?n=polly-stewart&pid=162917832#fbLoggedOut
Webb, Hilda Eggleston (1929-2013). An Ohio folklorist and Indiana University graduate, Hilda Eggleston Webb passed away February 15, 2013, at her home in Mariemont, Ohio. Hilda May earned degrees in chemistry and folklore. She wrote "Water witching and other folk talents in the neighborhood of Bloomington, Indiana," in 1964, and "Cincinnati newspapers as a source of folklore themes," in 1975. She never lost an interest in folk tales, art, cultures, and customs. Later in life, she obtained a master's degree in social work, and also became an art therapist.
Windham, Kathryn Tucker (1918-2011). Kathryn Tucker Windham of Selma, Alabama passed away on June 12, 2011, shortly after her 93rd birthday. Ms. Kathryn was the most beloved storyteller in her beloved state of Alabama, and one of the most renowned in the nation through her long association with the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. She was first invited to that event in 1974, when the Festival was in its infancy, on the strength of her many popular books of Southern ghost lore. As a teller of supernatural legends and personal memoirs and as a spokesperson for the art, she cast a mighty spell. She researched many aspects of Alabama folklore, including folk beliefs, rituals, foodways, crafts, and outsider art, and she presented her fieldwork in the unassuming, plain-spoken, charming and disarming manner of a genuine porch-bred raconteur, one who was a crusader for human dignity, connectedness, and community. Before her storytelling vocation took flight , she had a long and distinguished career as a pioneering female journalist in Montgomery and Selma. She is credited by many as being a calming and restorative influence in her state after the strife of the civil rights era. Ms. Kathryn was buried in a hand-made pine casket with walnut pegs, built for her by a friend. At her memorial service, the choir played "I’ll Fly Away” on a small orchestra of comb-and-wax-paper kazoos.
7/20/2015 » 8/7/2015
City Lore Documentary Institute
8/13/2015 » 8/16/2015
It's Good to Be Young in the Mountains
8/31/2015 » 9/4/2015
45th International Ballad Conference of the Kommission für Volksdichtung