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Important Information for AFS Section Conveners


For many years, the American Folklore Society has supported the work of sections, sub-groups of the Society organized around topical interests; e.g., folk narrative, Latina/Latino folklore, the folklore of women and the roles of women in the field of folklore, or public programs in folklore. The Society's sections provide a collegial home within the Society for those with particular interests in these and other areas; they support and recognize important work through their publications, prizes, and other activities; and their creation and history is an index of the development of the field as a whole. They are a valuable part of the services the Society provides its members and the larger world.

First and foremost, sections of the American Folklore Society are not independent organizations. They are parts of AFS, and are governed by overall AFS Bylaws, policies, and Executive Board decisions. This document describes the various responsibilities of sections to the parent Society.

But the parent Society also has responsibilities to its sections. Society sections are eligible for space and time at the Society's annual meeting for paper sessions or workshops, section meetings, and social events. AFS provides several services to sections:

  • It keeps membership records for the section and provides contact information to the section for communication with its members.
  • It couples section renewal with AFS membership renewal in both online and print renewal forms.
  • It keeps accounting records for each section that brings in income (say, from section dues or outside funding for section activities) and incurs expenses (say, for publications or prizes).
  • It provides digital space and communication tools specific to each section on the AFS website (

Section Conveners

Each section must designate a convener, who is the head of the section, to serve for a term the section decides. As convener, you maintain contact with the AFS Associate Director, and are responsible for handling general section business and correspondence. Each section must also designate an individual (either you or a separate treasurer) who will receive annual financial statements from the AFS business office.

Section Communications

Your online group directory is the most complete and current list of all who have joined your section using AFS tools, including our online and print membership forms. Any communications directed at section members must include all those members. The best way to do that is to use the "email group" tool on your group home page (see AFS Sections Online, below).

If you are using off-site communications, like Facebook groups or pages, listservs, or just an email distribution list, you are responsible for synching these disparate groups. Contact the Associate Director for help.

If you need to contact only section members who are current in their dues payments, you must request that list from AFS, giving us at least a few days to prepare it.

Section Finances

Most sections charge dues. Sections must charge dues or find sources of outside income that are adequate to their operating expenses.

If you decide to pursue outside funding — government or foundation grants, for instance — it is essential that you discuss your plans with the AFS Executive Director as early as possible in the fund-raising process. Since AFS sections have no independent legal status, all grant applications for section activities must be officially approved by the AFS Executive Board and submitted by the Society, not by the section. Since this AFS approval process usually takes some time, and since AFS wants to avoid conflicts between sections' fund-raising activities and its own, it is especially important that you involve the AFS Executive Director as soon as you begin planning to raise outside funds.

All section financial business (checks for deposit, requests for payments) should be mailed to AFS (American Folklore Society, Mershon Center, Ohio State University, 1501 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43201-2602). Alternatively, you can use our online check request form to request payment.

Please be prompt with deposits (i.e., don't hold onto checks until the following March received at the October AFS annual meeting).

Sections and the AFS Annual Meeting

AFS Bylaws state that Sections must convene as part of the AFS annual meeting each October. In fact, the Bylaws state that sections that do not meet for two consecutive years may have their official status revoked by the AFS Executive Board. After the AFS annual meeting, section conveners must give the AFS Associate Director any updated information on section activities: e.g., the name of a new convener or treasurer, information about a new dues structure, etc.

Sections are eligible for lunch-time meeting space, but they are not automatically assigned a room. You must request meeting space using a Special Event Request form by the annual March 31 proposal deadline.

Sections and the AFS Review

You are encouraged to submit information about your section and its activities to the AFS Review, a feature of the AFS website that presents news and editorial content. Submit the text that you want to see posted to the Associate Director; please consider posting regular updates about your activities, as well as news, calls for proposals, prize announcements, etc.

AFS Sections Online

Each section of the AFS has a presence on AFS web site. Section conveners are given administrative control over most of their Section pages, and are responsible for keeping all the content of their pages up-to-date and accurate.

  • Each Section has its own page, which can be found in the Section list (, which represents the Section to the world at large. You must review this page every year; you can sign in to edit the contents of this page at any time.

  • Each Section is provided with group space that is restricted to group members only. This space provides web pages, file and photo sharing, online discussion tools, a member directory, and a tool to email all group members. Conveners have administrative control of this space. All members of the Section can access this space by signing in, then clicking on the Section when it appears under "Groups” in their Profile menu.

    The online group home page is the "welcome" page to all new members of your section. Keep this page up to date with this is in mind. At minimum, your group home page should include:
    • current convener names and contact information
    • instructions about how to subscribe to any off-site communication tools used by your group (eg, Facebook, listservs, email distribution lists)
    • some welcome or guidance about what the new member should do or expect

  • As of December 2013, any registered member of the AFS online community (this includes "web only" members as well as AFS members) can freely join your online group; all members of the online group are prompted annually to submit dues payments when they join or renew their AFS membership, of whatever type. However, we will not attempt to remove people from the group for non-payment of dues. This means that the online directory of your section will now almost certainly include both dues-paying and non-dues paying members. If you need to communicate with only dues-paying members, contact AFS to obtain a current distribution list; allow at least a few days lead time.
  • Each dues-paying Section is listed in the "Online Store,” where new or returning members can pay their annual dues at any time (not just at AFS membership renewal time). Section conveners should send corrections or changes to this text to the Associate Director. (Free sections are no longer listed in the online store; members should instead join at Sections/Join AFS Sections at

If your section has a web presence elsewhere, or uses other online discussion tools – a Facebook or Google group, for instance, or a listserv – you must provide AFS with that information. In addition, you should update your Section pages to direct members to those resources, and provide details about how they may join.

Contact the Associate Director for assistance with the AFS website.

Section Prizes

Several AFS sections award prizes, some of which carry cash awards, to recognize exceptional scholarship, public service, or other achievements in their part of the field. Sections' prize decisions tend to be made either shortly before or during the AFS annual meeting in October.

Section prizes are no longer announced at the AFS annual business meeting—they are announced at the annual meeting gatherings of the respective sections.

For checks to be written to prize recipients, the section convener needs to give the AFS Executive Director, in writing, the name, address, telephone, e-mail address, social security number, and professional affiliation of the award recipient; the dollar amount, if any, authorized for the prize; and a brief statement of the achievement(s) for which the recipient has been awarded the prize. For this check to be available at the annual meeting, your request needs to be made by the end of September.

Use our online check request form to request your prize checks.

Section Annual Reports

The Bylaws also require that all sections submit to the AFS Associate Director a brief report by December 31 each year reflecting the past year’s activity, plans for the upcoming year, and any out-of-the-ordinary fiscal activity (e.g., planning a grant proposal, special activities or fund-raising, etc.).

Section Conveners' Group

Use the online Section Conveners' Group to communicate with other conveners, find links to important information for conveners, and an archive of past announcements and discussion. See the "tips" on the homepage for information about how to view other sections' homepages, which may give you ideas about how to use this space. (Sign in, then find it under Groups in the Profile menu; the direct link is

If at any time you have questions about Society or section operations, or want to discuss the plans of your section, please do not hesitate to contact us: American Folklore Society, Mershon Center, Ohio State University, 1501 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43201-2602; fax 614/292-2407.

Timothy Lloyd
Executive Director

Lorraine Walsh Cashman
Associate Director



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Indiana University, Eigenmann Hall, 1900 East Tenth Street, Bloomington, IN 47406 USA
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