Folklorists

Annual Conference Roundup

The New York Folklore Society decided
to blend these traditions at the 2010
conference with a new element: student
presenters. In collaboration with New
York University’s Latino studies and Latin
American studies programs, we invited
graduate students to present their work
on the theme of Latino Folk Culture
and Expressive Traditions on Saturday,
November 20, at NYU.

From the Editor

The Spring–Summer
2011 issue of Voices
brings readers another
tasty mix of story, ethnography,
and analysis
of New York traditions,
upstate and downstate.
We open with SUNY–Oneonta English
professor Jonathan Sadow’s “Bagels and
Genres,” an insightful and witty musing on
what—in critical theory, as in life—makes a bagel a bagel, from Vegas to Montreal to
New York.

From the Director

Folklorists can offer important insights on
a community as tourism site. Drawing upon
knowledge gained through ethnographic
fieldwork, folklorists are able to provide
interpretive frameworks for a better understanding
of a community’s traditions and
cultural arts and may have a broader vantage
point on a community’s cultural assets.

From the Editor

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has been the inspiration for my work in public sector folklife for some 30 years….Some 10 years later, in the mid nineties, AFC helped create my home base, the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library

From the Director

In July 2012, the
New York Folklore
Society was asked to
help document the
second reunion of Camp Woodland
campers—a gathering
of people from
all over the US who
shared the childhood experience of once attending
a children’s camp which had existed
in Phoenicia, New York, from 1939–1962.

NYFS News and Notes

News included New Staffing for VOICES, New York Folk Arts Roundtable, NYFS Coming to Your Community, and Community Cultural Documentation

Downstate

As folklorists and educators, we believe the qualitative experiences of individual students are at least as significant as the quantitative data. Working in classrooms with new immigrants, we often work with students who refuse to speak at school—they’re often called “selective mutes.” Arts education is a way to change those behaviors. In the arts, teaching artists like George [Zavala] use words and attach them to something the students are doing—when you say the word “red,” you paint with red. We often see kids start to speak very quickly.

In Memory of Carol Gregson (1925-2021)

The long, eventful,
and celebrated life of Carol Gregson has
come to a close. She died Friday morning,
November 12, 2021. Born December 2,
1925, she was 95 years old….She was known in the Adirondacks as
the “Mother of all Gregsons.” Actually,
Carol only had seven children: Kris, Eric,
Barry, Kent, Blair, Jill, and Lance (in that
order).

From the Director

As we all move more fully into the digital age, New York Folklore’s concern has been to provide our full catalog to as many people as possible. Our catalog is substantial, as it represents more than 75 years of consistent publishing, with content that spans every corner of New York State.

A Tribute to John Vlach

In 1981, I began my Master’s degree in Museum Studies at George Washington University (GWU). I took an introductory course in American Studies with Pete Mondale, who assigned a book that would change my life: Black Culture and Black Consciousness by Larry Levine. When I asked Mondale where I could read more books like this, he introduced me to John Vlach, the new folklorist that the department had just hired. John had just written Charleston Blacksmith about Phillip Simmons, an African American blacksmith in Charleston. I was immediately sold on this professor, since my brother was a blacksmith and I had worked at a museum on Black women’s history in Washington, DC (The Bethune Museum) prior to starting my Master’s degree. And, then I learned what folklorists do.

In Memory of John Michael Vlach

Early in his career, John was elected as a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, a group that recognizes the field’s leading scholars. His folklore scholarship alerted academics across the social sciences and humanities to the power of cultural expression in our lives. He was especially effective in the areas of art and architecture, helping scholars and the public appreciate the significance of America’s folklife. Many of his published studies continue to be required reading for university courses.

Upstate

[T]he sounds from our surroundings carry many stories: the rivers’ roar in spring; the brooks’ summer babble; the songs of chickadees, jays, and white-throated sparrows; the call of the loon; the chilling howl of coyotes; and the mysterious, everchanging voices of the trees.

From the Field

As part of my fieldwork in the region, I
have had the opportunity to meet several
members and artists of the Karen community.
In August 2021, I was invited to
the Wrist Tying Ceremony, which is held
annually in different cities of New York
State….The Mohawk Valley has a rich history
of beekeeping. Moses Quinby, an important
figure in beekeeping history, lived and
worked in the valley. Today, there are Mohawk
Valley beekeepers carrying on the
legacy….Downtown Rochester is undergoing
major changes, and Monroe County’s new
folklife program, Flower City Folk, is documenting
the process.

Announcement

Our heartfelt congratulations to storyteller, author, poet, Abenaki elder, and Voices columnist, Joseph Bruchac, for being appointed as the first Poet Laureate of Saratoga Springs. The ceremony took place at City Hall on January 17, 2023. Bruchac was selected through a competitive nomination and interview process by members of the City’s Poet Laureate Committee. His two-year appointment will run through December 2024.

From the Editor

John Michael Vlach (1948–2022) served as the Director of the Folklife Program at George Washington University (GWU) for over 32 years. He was a giant in the field, a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, a leading expert on folklife, folk arts and craft, vernacular architecture, and cultural history …