Monday, July 14, 2014
Posted by: Tim Lloyd
Folklorist Judy McCulloh passed away on July 13, 2014, in Urbana, Illinois.
A driving force for excellence and leadership in book and journal publishing in folklore, ethnomusicology, and music history, and the creator of and prime mover behind the "Folklore in Society" and "Music in American Life" book series for the University of Illinois Press, Judy received the PhD from Indiana University and served on the Press staff with distinction for 35 years.
She was President of the American Folklore Society in 1987, and is a Fellow of the AFS. She also served on the Society's Executive Board, and as a long-time member of the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
She was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2010, receiving the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship, given to an individual who has made major contributions to the excellence, vitality, and public appreciation of the folk and traditional arts. Her citation for that fellowship is available at arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/judith-mcculloh. Earlier this year, the AFS Executive Board named Judy the first recipient of its Lifetime Award for Service to the Field and will present this award posthumously at this year's annual meeting in Santa Fe.
Plans for a memorial service, and information about donations to be made in Judy's name, are in preparation and will be announced shortly.
For more about the life and work of Judith McCulloh see:
-- A 24-minute NEA podcast of Josephine Reed interviewing Judy for ArtWorks: http://arts.gov/audio/judy-mcculloh
-- Stephen Winick's July 14, 2014 Library of Congress blog for Folklife Today: http://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2014/07/judith-mcculloh-1935-2014/
Judy was a supportive friend to many folklorists and ethnomusicologists over the years. It was a privilege to know her as a friend and colleague. The anecdote I'd like to share is this: in the late 1970s she came along with me to New Bethel Baptist Church, in Detroit, where Rev. C. L. Franklin was preaching. She'd signed me to an advance contract for a book on CLF, and after everything I'd told her she wanted to see and hear for herself. We were sitting in a pew near the front, and she was closest to the aisle. The church was more than a little livelier than she was used to. At the conclusion of CLF's whooped sermon, his mother Rachel fell out (as she usually did) and shouted and danced in the church aisle, going into a trance and winding up in Judy's lap. Judy was startled but of course took it in stride, as the nurses converged to help Mrs. Franklin up, with many apologies--and smiles. She never forgot it. And I won't ever forget her. --Jeff Titon