NYFS logo    tagline
 making lacemaking a mandalaplaying mandolin
What We Do

We value the rights and needs of all New Yorkers to express and practice their artistic and cultural traditions. We fulfill our mission through the NYSCA Mentoring and Professional Development for the Traditional Arts – A Partnership with the New York Folklore Society, through our Community Cultural Documentation programming, and through our many and varied conferences and gatherings.


Programs & Services
Mary Adams, Iroquois basketmakerMentor Mary Adams, Iroquois basketmaker The NYSCA Mentoring and Professional Development for the Traditional Arts – A Partnership with the New York Folklore Society—With funding from the New York State Council on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts, we offer people and organizations engaged in or planning folklife and traditional arts programs to work with work with consultants who offer expertise in the needed area. Read more.

Conferences & Symposia—Since its beginnings, NYFS has sponsored at last one conference a year, exploring the folklore and folk culture of the host region. In 2010”2011, the Society embarked on a new conference format: a graduate student conference which showcases student work. The 2013 Annual Conference was in White Plains, NY, on March 2013, in collaboration with ArtsWestchester and Long Island Traditions and focus on Occupational Folklore. In 2014, the New York Folklore Society collaborated with the Children’s Folklore Review of the American Folklore Society and The Strong National Museum of Play to present a conference on the folklore of play. “Crisis of Place: Preserving Folk & Vernacular Architecture in New York” was the 2016 annual conference, at Cooper Union in New York City on April 2, 2016. Save the Date for this year’s conference “Cultural Migration: Displacement and Renewal” at the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University on September 8–9, 2017. Issue-based gatherings such as Democratizing the (Folk) Arts Nonprofit Workplace and Forming a Worker-Owned Cooperative in collaboration with the Green Worker Cooperatives (2016), Low Bridge: Music of the Erie Canal (2012) and the Embroiderers’ Gathering (2011) bring together traditional artists, educators, cultural workers, and the general public for fun and educational events. Read more.

Hungarian dancersDancers at Hungarian Trilogy Dance event Community Programming—Community programming events celebrate the diverse cultures and history of New York State’s peoples. From The Schenectady Cultural Documentation Project to the Latino Dance Summit, the New York Folklore Society provides outreach to artists, educators, cultural workers, and tradition bearers. In 2017, NYFS was proud to partner with the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), City Lore, and Tradition in Motion, for the Brooklyn Folk Arts Day, a hands-on summit presented by the BAC. Read more.

NYSCA Upstate Folklife Survey in Partnership with NYFS—The New York Folklore Society, in collaboration with the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, engaged Upstate Regional Representative, Hannah Davis to carry out field research on traditional music, dance, material culture, occupational traditions, narrative, occupational folklife and other customary practices. Programs have included Textile Traditions in Tompkins County, Ethnic Food Traditions in the Finger Lakes, and Social Dancing in the Southern Tier. Read more.

Archival Services—Since 1991, with grants from the NYS Documentary Heritage Program, the NYFS has been addressing the problems facing important collections of folklore and folk arts documentation that exist in organizations large and small throughout the state. We expanded our technical assistance to include direct support for folklore collections and archives by archivists, who consult and assist in processing folklore collections throughout the state. Read more.

Advocacy—The New York Folklore Society plays a leading role in advocating for sympathetic and informed attention to issues and concerns related to folk arts, and the arts in general, on the part of the state legislature, the federal government, and other entities whose policies affect the welfare of the field. Read more.

Folk Arts Roundtable—The New York State Folk Arts Roundtable, a professional development opportunity, was initiated by the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, and for several years was organized with the assistance of the Cultural Resources Council of Syracuse and Onondaga County. In 2011, the New York Folklore Society became the convening organization for the New York State Folk Arts Roundtable. Read more.

Folk Arts Education—The New York Folklore Society has supported folk arts education through workshops, projects, and course development in conjunction with Empire State College designed for students interested in non-profit community arts and folk arts programming and for those involved documenting the culture and tradition of their local community. Read more.
Traditional artist Andes Manta
Tradtional Artist Andes Manta


The New York Folklore Society’s programs are made possible in part with public funds from the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

NYS Council on the Arts

The New York Folklore Society (NYFS) has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in the funding cycle announced on May 10. NYFS is the only recipient for this round of NEA support within the central Capital Region (Albany, Schenectady, Troy).


An NEA grant of $13,000 will support Traditional Arts Learning: A Study and Convening. The society’s mentorship and professional development programs for folk artists, folklorists, and community organizers will be analyzed through surveys, phone conversations, and group discussions with the programs’ participants. A conference will evaluate the findings and offer suggestions for improvements. The results of the survey and meeting will be published in a report that will be posted online. The project marks the organization’s 25th year of conducting professional development programs.

NYFS has also been awarded $40,000 through the NEA Partnership program to support statewide technical assistance and professional development services to the folk and traditional arts field. These services will expand to include field research, technical assistance, and programming in the Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier regions of the state. Technical assistance and professional development services developed by New York Folklore Society and the New York State Council on the Arts will include activities such as organizational and board development assistance, artists’ marketing and self-presentation, and community scholar field schools, as well as programs for emerging folklorists, including conferences, internships, and convenings.

To New York Folklore Society friends and members,

NYFS is pleased to partner with
to invite you to:

From Shore to Shore
at Oyster Bay Historical Society

The travelling exhibit “From Shore to Shore: Boat Builders and Boatyards of Long Island ” opened at the Oyster Bay Historical Society on April 28. The exhibit will be on view from April 29 – September 4 at the main gallery, located at 20 Summit Street, Oyster Bay, NY

On Sunday, May 15 at 2:00 p.m., Long Island Traditions Executive Director Nancy Solomon will give a curator’s talk about the creation of the exhibit and how the waterfront of Long Island has changed.

MEET AND GREET! NYFS Executive Director, Ellen McHale, will be in attendance to welcome you, our friends and members. We hope to see you there!

STABLE VIEWS—A moving revelation of the many essential workers and their lives on the backside of horse racing

Stable Views offers an inside look at the thoroughbred racing industry through the words and perspectives of those who labor within its stables. In more than 14 years of field research, NYFS Director Ellen E. McHale traveled throughout the Eastern Seaboard, Kentucky, and Louisiana to gather oral narratives from those most intimately involved with racing: the stable workers, exercise riders, and horse trainers who form the backbone of the industry. She interviewed workers at Saratoga, Belmont, Tampa Bay Downs, Keeneland, the Evangeline Training Center in Louisiana, and the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.

160 pages (approx.), 8 x 8 inches, 45 color photographs, bibliography, index

NEW YORK FOLKLORE SOCIETY ♦ 129 Jay Street ♦ Schenectady, NY 12305 ♦ 518.346.7008 ♦ Fax 518.346.6617 ♦ nyfs@nyfolklore.org