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Folklore Resources on Campus

Folklore Resources on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Campus


Call Numbers I Articles I  Background Information I  Special & Hidden Library Collections I  Campus Museums I



Find Folklore Resources by Call Number

Browse the below call numbers in the University libraries to find print materials about folklore and related topics. The most relevant libraries include the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL)Literatures and Languages LibraryHistory, Philosophy and Newspaper Library (HPNL); and the Main Stacks.

Folklore Call Numbers


Find Articles about Folklore

Selected Folklore-Related Databases

Use databases to search multiple online journals at the same time. Find articles about a specific topic by using keywords, subject headings, authors, and more.

Selected Journals

Search or browse individual journals.



Find Background Information about Folklore

Items are located in the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library’s (SSHEL) Reference Collection unless otherwise noted.

398.2 AA74VET1964 (Main Reference)
Aarne, Antti. The Types of the Folk-tale: A Classification and Bibliography. 1964.
A classic reference within folklore scholarship, providing an expansive categorization of folktales and bibliography.

GR550 .A64 2020 (SSHEL Stacks)
Anderson, Graham. Ancient Fairy and Folk Tales: an Anthology. 2020.
This anthology explores the multitude of evidence for recognisable fairy tales drawn from sources in the much older cultures of the ancient world, appearing much earlier than the 17th century where awareness of most fairy tales tends to begin.

Q398. 097303 En199 (SSHEL Oversize and Oak Street)
Bronner, Simon J. (ed.). Encyclopedia of American Folklife. 2006.
A rich reference resource that addresses a broad range of topics on American culture, including entries for many ethnic communities within the United States, information on specific cultural and social practices on which regional, state, city identities are built such as cuisine and community celebrations. The four volumes cover a range of folklore genres such as material culture, festivals and belief, folk narrative, religion, and music. It also includes a discussion of key concepts and approaches to the study of folklore. Examples of entries range from youth subcultures such as “skateboarders,” to “powwowing,” “polka,” and “intellectual property and traditional knowledge.”

GR101 .A54 1996 (Main Stacks and Uni High Reference)
Brunvand, Jan Harold (ed.). American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. 1996.
This one volume encyclopedia covers a large range of folklore topics from folk music to material culture and ethnic folk communities. Its geographic and cultural range includes Canada, but excludes Native American cultures (which are addressed in a separate volume). The text also provides a rich source of information on prominent, nonliving folklore scholars and concepts within the field of folklore studies.

398.208995073 En193 (Main Stacks and Oak Street)
Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife.  2011.
This encyclopedia contains over 6000 entries on aspects of Asian American folklore and culture.  In addition to a section on Pan Asian American traditions, sections exploring specific Asian American cultures (Japanese Americans, Cambodian Americans, Punjabi Americans, etc.) compromise the bulk of the work.  Each section covers a set list of general topics such as food, dance, music, religion, and superstitions, as well as practices, figures, and festivals specific to each culture.  Each article is signed and contains a list of further reading.  Includes bibliography, index, and an appendix of folktexts.

Q. GR98.E56 2013 (Oak Street and online)
Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions. 2 vols. 2013.
This two-volume encyclopedia covers all aspects of Jewish folklore and traditions, both historical and contemporary, from all parts of the world. Entries are organized alphabetically by English transliteration of Hebrew words, when appropriate, and each entry includes in-text citations of sources and scripture, when relevant, and a bibliography. Volume 2 includes appendices on sources, definitions, abbreviations, and related anthologies of Jewish folklore and an index.

398.203 G658e (Oak Street)
Gordon, Stuart. The Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends. 1993.
A collection of entries on mythical figures, narratives, and chroniclers throughout the world, though its focus is on European, Near Eastern, and Indian myths. Text also includes some entries focused on more contemporary phenomenon such as the “Rosewell incident” and its connection to UFO narratives and “phantom hitch-hikers.”

398.20973 G857 (SSHEL Stacks)
Green, Thomas A. (ed.). The Greenwood Library of American Folktales . 2006.
A collection of American folktales organized by region (Northeast, Midwest, Mid- Atlantic, South, Caribbean, Southwest, Plains and Plateau, West, Northwest, and Cyberspace). Narratives include jokes, folktales, legends, myths, as well as personal experience narratives and were collected from a variety of sources ranging from nineteenth century ethnographers to email forwards. Many come from the “Golden Age” of regional collecting from 1880-1960.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales.  2008.
In addition to containing information on well-known tales and historical movements in the multi-disciplinary field of fairy tale studies, this three-volume e-book contains definitions of critical terms, concepts, and genres, as well as information on modern interpretations in text, film, music and other media. Entries are organized alphabetically, but the Guide to Related Topics allows readers to view contents by title medium, genre, region/language, character/motif/theme, and creator, which is divided into several categories including filmmakers, illustrators, authors, and editors. Each entry is signed and recommends additional reading on the topic, both from within the text and from external sources.

572.03 In8 (Main Stacks and Oak Street)
International Dictionary of Regional European Ethnology and Folklore. 2 vols. 1960-65.
This classic source provides definitions of general ethnological concepts, as well as folklore-specific terms. Vol. 1 has been called the “best available dictionary of ethnological concepts” (Webb, Sources of Information in the Social Sciences, 1986) but is now mainly of historical interest and useful for elucidating concepts and approaches en vogue at the time it was written.

098. 072073 M77a (Oak Street)
Mood, Terry Ann. American Regional Folklore: A Sourcebook and Research Guide. 2004.
A guide to conducting folklore research with an emphasis on the use of library resources. Several chapters focus on folklore resources (mainly texts and museums) within specific regions of the United States. The guide is largely limited to texts that emphasize literary methods to the study of folklore, overlooking many materials that take a more ethnographic approach.

Prahlad, Anand (ed.). African American Folklore: An Encyclopedia for Students. 2016.
A rich resource providing entries for a range of terms and key figures in African American folklore and culture. The geographic scope of the text includes North America, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Brer Rabbit, cornbread, Bob Marley, Grandmaster Flash, and Capoeira are just a few of the hundreds of subjects addressed in this encyclopedia. An older print edition is available in SSHEL Reference 398.08996073 G856.

GR825 .S83 2020 (Main Stacks)
Stavans, Ilan. A Pre-Columbian Bestiary: Fantastic Creatures of Indigenous Latin America. 2020.
Explores forty-six religious, mythical, and imaginary creatures that are integral to the aboriginal worldview of Aymara, Aztecs, Incas, Maya, Nahua, Tabascos, and other cultures of Latin America.

398.3 T37M (Main Stacks, Oak Street, and online)
Thompson, Stith. Motif-index of Folk-literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-books, and Local Legends. 1955.
A seminal index of motif elements in folk narratives, identifying key components of narratives and the stories where they are found. An important resource in locating and analyzing themes within folk literature.



Special Library Collections

The Hermilda Listeman Community Cookbook Collection contains 700 community cookbooks from around the country, from Maine to Alaska to Hawaii. Dating from the 1870’s, these culinary treasures were put together to raise money through women’s groups, with the strongest representation by churches. Some examples of this include raising funds for veterans and injured soldiers of the Civil War, the homeless, local schools and of course, churches. The cookbooks can be read for their ‘receipts’ as well as for their representation of American food preferences, the advancement of technology in the kitchen and the evolution of nutritional theory. There are unique recipes written in rhyme as well as local advertisements of the day. Cookbooks in this collection can be found by searching the catalog for “Hermilda Listeman Cookbook Collection.”

Folklore & Wit
The Franklin Julius Meine Collection in Folklore, Local Color, and Humor includes approximately 8,500 volumes. Franklin J. Meine was a Chicago publisher and book collector particularly interested in American humor in all its forms. Formal literary satire, joke books, humorous ballads, reminiscences of famous comedians, cartoons and comic almanacs, and humor magazines were all prominently represented in his collection. It included every important American humorist in first editions, as well as variant editions. The contents are listed in the printed catalog of the Rare Book Library. The collection was purchased in 1955 and is located in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

In addition, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library acquired two more recent collections: The Meyer Collection of American Wit and Humor, which consists of several thousand books, including many folklore titles and is largely unprocessed and The Robert B. Downs Collection, a straightforward folklore collection, much of which remains uncatalogued.

Paranormal & Supernatural
The Mandeville Collection is an endowed collection of approximately 16,000 items relating to the occult sciences and parapsychology, established by the late Merten J. Mandeville, a Professor of Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Under the terms of the endowment, works of a serious nature, and those which emphasize the positive aspects of the occult are acquired. The primary subject areas for which materials are purchased are astrology; the divinatory arts and palmistry; esoteric religion and mysticism; occult techniques for health, happiness and success; psychical phenomena and research, including clairvoyance, ESP, and out-of-body experiences; spiritualism, including apparitions, mediumship, and reincarnation; unidentified flying objects; and witchcraft and magic. Newer books and the unbound issues of more than 20 journals are located in the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL). The bulk of the collection is housed in the Main Stacks.

University of Illinois Ethnomusicology Archive
The archive is housed in the Music Building of the Urbana-Champaign campus and is established under the aegis of the Division of Musicology. Begun in 1965 by Bruno Nettl as a repository for non-commercial and non-processed field recordings made by faculty and students of the University, it continues to function as a working collection of materials produced by members of the Division or used in their research and teaching. It makes no attempt to be a comprehensive archive of field recordings of traditional music. The Archive includes materials from all parts of the world but is strongest in Native American, Middle and Near Eastern, and South Asian cultures. Consisting largely of reel-to-reel tapes, some of which have been transferred to audio cassettes, it is organized by collections (material provided by one scholar from one culture or nation and recorded during a specific period). There are ca. 200 “collections,” ranging in size from less than one hour to over 100 hours of music. Documentation in varying degrees of detail is available for about half of the collections. Use is restricted to departmental faculty and graduate students, but arrangements for use in serious scholarship by others may be arranged.

Robert Brown Collection
The Robert E. Brown Collection (ethnomusicology) is housed at the Music Library and includes an extensive donation of books, scores, and recordings, in addition to a Javanese puppet theatre, gamelans, and other musical instruments from Indonesia, India, Turkey, and Afghanistan. The donation also includes the relocation of the Center for World Music at UIUC currently housed at the Levis Center.

Sousa Archives: Center for American Music
The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music (SACAM) acquires and preserves significant archival records and historical artifacts in multiple media formats that document America’s local and national music history and its diverse cultures. The Center, part of the University of Illinois Library and University Archives, arranges, describes, and makes its collections accessible in support of scholarship, exhibitions, publications and education. It offers these services in a professionally managed reference center and through on-line databases, finding aids, and other forms of publication. It provides expert advice on accepted archival practices and standards to University colleagues, scholars, and the general public.

Campus Folksong Club Oral History Project (University Archives)
The Campus Folksong Club Oral History Project includes online audio interviews with former club members and participants. In addition, the online site includes photographs and links to the club’s recently digitized newsletter Autoharp. During its height in the 1960s, the CFC claimed over 500 members-making it an astonishingly large student organization and an important force in bringing culture from Illinois and beyond to the UIUC campus. Folk music scholar Neil Rosenberg describes the Campus Folksong Club as “one of the most vigorous of the many university folksong clubs during the sixties: (1993: 3). The CFC was unique in its commitment to including a variety of traditional music ranging from gospel and blues to old-time Appalachian and Ozark music, as well as ethnic music from outside the United States. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Mike Seeger are among the best known musicians that the CFC brought to the UI campus. At the same time, the club also brought students and local people together through a common appreciation for traditional music.



Folklore in Campus Museums

Spurlock Museum
A rich collection of artifacts from Ancient Mediterranean, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas. The Spurlock’s holdings include a number of folk art objects, especially carvings and textiles. The museum website allow users to Search the Collections of the Spurlock Museum and to view digital images of many objects in the collection.

Krannert Art Museum
Museum holdings include objects of interest to those studying non-Western material culture. The museum website displays key examples from its collection.