ANT 244W: Folklore and Folklife
Suggestions for Improving your Preliminary Bibliography


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Re-read PART ONE: PRELIMINARY BIBLIOGRAPHY of the document "Directions for your fieldwork project."

Have you used the the MLA International Bibliography? Peer Reviewed Articles EZ? All students are required to use these databases; those working on the folklore of a particular group, such as restaurant workers, Italian-Americans or bikers will also need to use SocINDEX and Anthropology Plus.

Most students students will also find helpful information on their topics in:

Jan Brunvand, American Folklore: An Encyclopedia (in Reference Room in Butler Library)
Thomas Green, Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music and Art (in Reference Room in Butler Library)

These reference works should not be included in your biblography as such. If you find an article in one of these, it should be listed in your biblography by the author of the article. If you find an article in a reference book in which all entries are written by the author of the book (such as Jan Brunvand's Encyclopedia of Urban Legends) it should be listed in your bibliography by the title of the article. Use the format for "article in an encyclopedia" in EasyBib.

There are some reference works and book length bibliographies in folklore that can be extremely helpful. If your topic involves an ethnic group, use American and Canadian Immigrant and Ethnic Folklore: An Annotated Bibliography, by Robert Georges and Stephen Stern. If your topic involves African-American folklore, consult Afro-American Folk Culture: An Annotated Bibliography of Materials from North, Central and South America and the West Indies, by John Szwed. If you are working on Latino folklore (Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Chicano) you should consult the Dictionary of Chicano Folklore, by Rafaela Castro. You should look at Folklore of American Holidays, by Hennig Cohen and Tristram P. Coffin if you are working on holiday customs. The editors include holiday customs from many ethnic groups -- remember, Italian-Americans are living here now! All of these can be found in the Reference Room in Butler Library.

If you are studying life cycle folklore (birth, death, marriage, child-raising etc.) or the folklore associated with farming, gardening, weather, hunting, fishing, gambling or sports look at Newbell Niles Puckett's Popular Beliefs and Superstitions. (You should also check other standard works on superstition. For a good discussion of these, see the chapter on superstition in Brunvand's Study of American Folklore.)

There are two copies of Jan Brunvand's Study of American Folklore (Third Edition) in the Reserve Room in Butler Library. Look up your topic in the index or check the bibliography appended to the chapter on your subject. (For example, the bibliography appended to the chapter on superstition includes the only list I know of articles about superstitions of actors.)

Don't overlook your textbook, Folk Groups and Folklore Genres, as a source of help. If you are studying narratives, ethnic folklore, religious folklore, occupational folklore, children's folklore, or some other topic covered in the book, consult the bibliographical essay appended to the relevant chapter.

If you are studying children's folklore or folklore of adolescents, look at City Play by Amanda Dargan and Steven J. Zeitlin and Simon Bronner's American Children's Folklore. If you are studying folklore of college students, look at Bronner's Piled Higher and Deeper. All of these contain excellent bibliographies. Also the ERIC database is sometimes helpful. There is a section on college legends on the urban legend website at

If you are studying family folklore, look at A Celebration of Family Folklore by Steven J. Zeitlin, Amy J. Kotkin and Holly Cutting Baker (excellent bibliography!) There is a copy in the reserve room at Butler Library.

If you are studying the folklore of an ethnic, occupational or interest group (Serbian-Americans, rock fans, workers in a particular industry such as food service, bikers, gamblers), you should look for studies of that group by sociologists in SocINDEX. You may also find relevant articles by anthropologists and other social scientists in Peer Reviewed Articles EZ. Even though these articles may not be indexed under "folklore," they often contain a great deal of information about the folklore of the groups they describe. These databases are accessible through the Research Sources page on the Butler Library website at

If you are working on Polish-American folklore you need to look at Polish-American Folklore by Deborah Silverman. (Who actually teaches at Buffalo State College!) Unfortunately the copy in Butler Library has been stolen, but you should be able to find copies in most branch libraries and local college libraries. If all else fails, use the copy of her dissertation in the UB library -- she got her Ph.D. there and the book is based on her dissertation. You also need to be familiar with the works of Sophie Knab (another local author) especially Polish Customs, Traditions and Folklore.

If you are studying the folklore of an occupational group, you should look at all the items listed under "occupational folklore" in the on-line MLA International Bibliography. If there are no articles dealing directly with your chosen occupation, look for articles about the folklore of workers in similar occupations--it is amazing how closely related the folklore of all workers in (for example) service occupations is. Airline attendants and restaurant workers have lots of similar stories, as do all retail workers. The articles dealing with occupational folklore in general will give you some valuable ideas about how to approach the folklore of your chosen occupation. Sometimes you just need to be creative in the search terms you use -- I recently found some excellent articles listed in the MLA bibliography under "office folklore." Try "waiters' folklore" as well as "restaurant folklore." Also check out the entries in Dorson's Handbook, Green's Encyclopedia and Brunvand's Encyclopedia under both "occupational folklore" and "organizational folklore."

Anyone working on occupational folklore should look at the special issue of the American Behavioral Scientist (volume 33, number 3, January-February 1990) edited by Michael Owen Jones, entitled "Emotions in Work: A Folklore Approach." It contains nine articles that I think you will find extremely helpful. This entire journal issue is now available in full text in the wonderful new database SOCIOLOGY on the Butler Library website.

You should also look at Working Americans: Contemporary Approaches to Occupational Folklife, edited by Robert H. Byington. This was a special issue of Western Folklore (Volume 37, Number 3, July 1978) and was reprinted as a book by the Smithsonian. A copy of the book is at the reserve desk in Butler Library and full texts of all the articles can be found in JSTOR.

If you are working on urban legends you should start with Jan Brunvand's Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, which not only contains references to all the standard urban legends, but also has excellent bibliographies for many of them.. Brunvand's books on (The Vanishing Hitchhiker, The Choking Doberman, The Mexican Pet, The Baby Train, and Curses, Broiled Again! are available in most local libraries. They contain ghost stories, student and college legends, and lots of occupational narratives They also have superb bibliographies--check them out! There is an excellent website dealing with urban legends at

Mason Winfield has written several books about local ghost stories and has an excellent website. Elizabeth Tucker has published many excellent studies of college ghost stories.

Are you writing about holiday customs? Start with Folklore of American Holidays, by Hennig Cohen and Tristram P. Coffin. You should also look for books and articles by Jack Santino, especially All Around the Year, New Old Fashioned Ways and Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life. For holiday foods, or foodways in general, look at Charles Camp's American Foodways.

Try searching the World Wide Web for websites dealing with your topic. Don't overlook sound archives, like the one at National Public Radio NPR often features interviews with folklorists and does stories on all sorts of folklore topics.

If you would like to look for newspaper articles about your subject, use Lexis/Nexis Academic. Local newspapers are often contain stories about regional legends and celebrations and papers like the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor offer a wealth of information on almost any topic. Don't overlook them as a resource!

The best place to start to find books and DVDs is WorldCat. To find books and periodicals in other local libraries, check WNYLibraries at You can also find links to catalogs of other local libraries such as the University of Buffalo and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library on this page.


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