New York State

Still Going Strong

The earliest head coverings were probably
animal skins and were used primarily for
warmth, rather than style. Over the millennia,
however, women’s hats have reflected
contemporary fashions, as well as the hairdos
that were in vogue. During Greek and Roman
times, women’s headwear included headdresses
made of metal and ribbons intertwined in
elaborate coiffeurs. In more modern times,
women’s hats have gone in and out of style,
but there has always remained a niche for
milliners to create and modify women’s hats.

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.

Good Spirits

It was late at night, and the ICU’s waiting
room looked dark and shadowy. On cots,
chairs, and couches slept other patients’
family members. One kind nurse handed
me two sheets; another gave me a list of
nearby restaurants. Someone who had
been resting in one of the chairs helped
me transform a small couch into a bed.


Over an average twelve-month period, the restaurant [Grand Central Oyster Bar] serves between fifty and seventy-five varieties of oysters. Each is somewhat different in appearance and taste, but nearly all are variants of the eastern oyster or Crassostrea virginica, the species native to the Atlantic and Gulf seaboards.

Bringing Old-Time Fiddling into the Twenty-First Century

The North American Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame and Museum is located in the township of Osceola, New York, in the Tug Hill region of northern New York. The hall of fame and museum was born along with its sister, the New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers’ Association, in 1976…. My grandmother, Alice Clemens—three times New York State ladies’ fiddling champion—was a cofounder of the museum and association. She thought it was important to document not only the lives of the hall of fame inductees, but also the lives and music of other fiddlers. She also worried that some of the older fiddlers might soon pass away without teaching anyone the tunes they played.

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


As Stephen Colbert says, “Thanksgiving is a magical time of year when families across the country join together to raise America’s obesity statistics. Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.” … As a folklorist, I’m often interested in the context of human events. Besides, the what that happened, I want to know about the who, where, when, why, and how. Large celebrations almost always include food. Thanksgiving is the one that’s about food and lots of it!


The original American Hall of Fame was not
the baseball institution in Cooperstown, which
opened in 1939, but the Hall of Fame for Great
Americans, dedicated in 1901 on what was then
a Bronx campus of New York University. In its
early years this brainchild of NYU’s Chancellor
Henry Mitchell MacCracken was a sensation, engaging
the public and the press in spirited debate
about who merited inclusion.

Low Bridge, Everybody Down!

Canal season may be over, but at The Erie Canal Museum in November 2012, the music of the Canal resounded in “Low Bridge, Everybody Down!: An Erie Canal Music Celebration.” The two-day public celebration, co-organized by The Erie Canal Museum and The New York Folklore Society, was the first-ever event devoted exclusively to an exploration of the rich musical heritage created, developed, and transmitted by means of the Erie Canal. Workshops, concerts, presentations, discussions, and displays provided activities that appealed to a wide variety of audiences.

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.

ALN8BAL8MO: A Native Voice

Writer, storyteller, healer, athlete,
and crane operator—in many ways, Ted
Williams was an original. In other ways,
he was also the inheritor of more than
one tradition from his Tuscarora people.
Born in 1930, on the Tuscarora Reservation
near Niagara Falls, New York,
Ted’s father Eleazar Williams was a Turtle
Clan sachem and an Indian doctor whose
reputation as a healer was widely known.
His mother, Amelia Chew, served as the
Clan Mother of Ted’s own Wolf Clan.

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.

From the Editor

We saw the Strawberry Moon rise over
Eldridge Swamp two nights ago. Just south
of our home in Shushan, New York. At a
place we had never visited. Nor knew of its
existence. No interfering lights. No one else
nearby. No other sounds. Only the chorus of
frogs encouraging the moon’s performance.