How and Why Archival Folklore Collections Matter: A Case Study of Carey Woofter’s Work in Calhoun County, West Virginia, in the 1930s

Rosemary V. Hathaway (West Virginia University)

In this presentation, I discuss folklore materials in the West Virginia and Regional History Center’s archives gathered by Carey Woofter in the 1930s and 1940s. Unlike the WVRHC’s materials from Woofter’s better-known colleagues, Woofter’s materials are largely unindexed and poorly organized. Older folklore collections like Woofter’s offer the potential to reconstruct the folklife and history of rural places, their lack of “thick description” makes it difficult to know how to make sense of them, much less interpret them. Folklorists need to take an active role in organizing, categorizing, and digitizing older folklore collections like this in academic and public archives.

Part of 05-15 The Importance and Use of Archives in Folklore Studies, Friday, November 03, 10:30 am–12:30 pm