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AFS Review: Notes

2013 Benjamin A. Botkin Prize Awarded to Paddy Bowman and Kay Turner

Friday, November 1, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
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At its recent annual meeting in Providence, the American Folklore Society (AFS) named two prominent American folklorists as the 2013 recipients of its prestigious Benjamin A. Botkin Prize, given to recognize lifetime achievement in public folklore.

The recipients, whose careers epitomize the best in public sector folklore methodology and practice, are Paddy Bowman, Director of Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education of Alexandria, Virginia, and Kay Turner, Folk Arts Director of the Brooklyn Arts Council of Brooklyn, New York.

The Botkin Prize is given each year by the AFS and its Public Programs Section in recognition of the work of Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975). Eminent New Deal-era folklorist, national folklore editor of the Federal Writers’ Project in 1938-1939, advocate for the public responsibilities of folklorists, author and compiler of many publications on American folklore for general audiences, and head of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress from 1942 to 1945, Botkin has had a major impact on the field of public folklore and on the public understanding of folklore.

In its report, the 2013 Botkin Prize Committee praised the outstanding contributions of this year’s recipients to the field of folklore, noting:

"Throughout her long and illustrious career, Paddy Bowman’s teaching and outreach about folk arts in education has engaged a broader public audience in meaningful ways. K-12 teachers, community scholars, and arts administrators around the nation have benefited from her ability to connect non-folklorists with our discipline. Her influential university courses and her professional development training programs in folklore for educators around the country, her implementation of model school-based projects, her authorship of seminal arts and education publications, and her development of online and off-line curricular materials have significantly extended the reach of folklore to hundreds of teachers and thousands of students throughout the United States. Bowman’s clarion call for the full inclusion of folk and traditional arts and artists in our nation’s education as well as her sage council on matters of public policy and strategic planning related to all areas of public folklore, make her a most worthy recipient of this award.”

"Few public sector folklorists have had as successful or varied a public sector career as Kay Turner. Dr. Turner began her public folklore activities in Texas during the 1980s, where she received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin, and co-founded the Texas Folklife Resources (TFR), one of the first stand-alone, non-profit arts organizations in the nation dedicated exclusively to regional folk arts and folklife. Her contributions as a public sector folklorist continued when she relocated to New York City. In 2000, she became Director of the Brooklyn Arts Council’s Folk Arts Program and expanded what had been a part-time position into one of the most active folklife centers in the country. Her innovative research-based projects have resulted in numerous hugely successful, multifaceted public programs that have focused public attention to and foster appreciation of the contributions of folk artists and performers in contemporary America.”

The American Folklore Society, founded in 1888, is an association of people who study folklore and communicate knowledge about folklore throughout the world. Our more than 2,200 members and subscribers are scholars,teachers, and libraries at colleges and universities; professionals in arts and cultural organizations;and community members studying and conserving folk traditions.

For further information on the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize, the 2013 awardees, or on the American Folklore Society and its activities, please contact Lorraine Cashman, AFS Associate Director, at 614/292-2199 or

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