Accession Number: 67
D.K. Wilgus Folklore Collection, 1918-1989
5 Linear Feet
Overview & Series Description
Series I - Biographical
Series II - Teaching Materials
Series III - Writings
Series IV - Reference Material
Series V - Subject Files
Series VI - General Folklore Collections
Series VII - Field Recordings Indexes and Transcriptions
Series VIII - Student Folklore Collections
Series IX - Josiah Combs Folklore Collection
Series X - Herbert Halpert Folklore Collection
Series XI - Lynwood Montell Folklore Collection
Series XII - E.C. Perrow Folklore Collection
Series XIII - Leonard Roberts Folklore Collection
Series XIV - D.L. Thomas Folklore Collection
Series XV - Newspapers - Folklore and Local History
Series XVI - Ohio Valley Folk Research Project Publications
Series XVII - Kentucky Superstitions Card Archive
Overview of the Collection
These are correspondence, ballads, songs, stories, sayings, and
legends collected by folklorist D.K. Wilgus (1918-1989). They
were deposited in Berea’s Southern
Appalachian Archives by Eleanor Long-Wilgus in 1991.
The Wilgus collection is an important resource for the continued
study of many aspects of Kentucky folklore. It includes material
that Wilgus collected directly and via students while teaching
at Western Kentucky State College (now University) 1950-1962. Also
included are a sizable body of folksong, ballad, and other material
that Wilgus obtained from such earlier folklore scholars as Josiah
Combs, Herbert Halpert, and E.C. Perrow, whose study of Kentucky
folklore date to the turn of the nineteenth century.
D.K. Wilgus was a native of Columbus, Ohio, and earned undergraduate
and graduate degrees from Ohio State University (1941-1954). His Anglo-American
Folksong Scholarship Since 1898 remains the definitive overview
of the history of folksong scholarship in America. Wilgus was the
first to plead “hillbilly” music’s case for academic
respectability. He was a pioneer in the teaching of Anglo-American
Folksong as a rigorous academic subject, in identifying the blues
ballad as a separate folksong genre, and developing the “narrative
theme” approach to ballad classification.
Wilgus taught at Western Kentucky University (1950-1963), where
he founded and edited the scholarly journal, Kentucky Folklore
Record. The remainder of his academic career (1963-1989) was
spent at UCLA, where he established and served as first chairperson
of that university’s Department of Folklore and Mythology.
Related Berea College Archives
Josiah Combs Collection, SAA 71, Berea College Southern Appalachian
Kincaid Collection, SAA 13, Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives
Roberts Collection, SAA 57, Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives
Related Archives at Other Institutions
D.K. Wilgus Collection, Folklife Archives, Western Kentucky University, Bowling
D.K. Wilgus Papers, Southern Folklife Collection, University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.
D.K. Wilgus Folksong Collection, Ethnomusicology Archive,
University of California Los Angeles.
11 Manuscript Boxes
This series consists mostly of tributes and commentaries on Wilgus’s
scholarly achievements published on the occasion of his death.
This series consists of lecture notes, bibliographies and tests
used by Wilgus while teaching at Western Kentucky State College
This series consists of rough draft typescript material relating
to the folklore bibliographies and folksong syllabus that Wilgus
published in Kentucky Folklore Record,1955-1962.
This series consists of bibliographical and discographical listings
of published and archival sources that document various aspects
of Kentucky folklore and music.
This series consists of correspondence, printed material, and
clippings relating to a wide variety of subjects and individuals.
There is also an index card file of sayings and other spoken lore.
||General Folklore Collections
This series consists of folklore narrative and song texts collected
either directly by Wilgus or via his students and other associates.
Narrative subject areas include customs, ghost stories, jokes,
riddles, sayings, similes, and superstitions.
||Field Recordings Indexes and Transcriptions
This series consists of content records for approximately 148
audio field recordings of folk music and narrative recorded by
Wilgus and others, 1955-1965. For several there are also typed
transcriptions of song texts heard on the recordings. The recordings
are housed at the Western Kentucky University Folklife Archives.
There are also copies at the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive.
This series consists of student folklore collections that include
such subject areas as ballads, games, legends, local history, recipes,
remedies, and superstitions.
||Josiah Combs Folklore Collection
This series consists of correspondence, ballad and song texts
conveyed to Wilgus by native Kentucky folklore scholar, Josiah
Combs. Much of the material was obtained in connection with Wilgus's
1961 publication of Combs’ early 1900s-era ballad collection
in the Kentucky Folklore Record. Also included is the
original manuscript of Combs' Some Kentucky Highland Stories.
||Herbert Halpert Folklore Collection
This series consists of ballad and song texts collected from students during
the middle 1940s by folklorist Herbert Halpert, while he was teaching at Murray
State College (now University).
||Lynwood Montell Folklore Collection
This series consists of ballad and song texts collected 1958-1970 by Western
Kentucky State College Folklorist, Lynwood Montell.
||E.C. Perrow Folklore Collection
This series consists of correspondence, song texts, and folklore narrative material
collected from students by folklore scholar E.C. Perrow, while he was teaching
at the University of Louisville during the early teens of the 1900s. Narrative
subject areas include anecdotes, games, riddles, rhymes, and superstitions.
This series consists of song texts and folklore narrative material collected
from eastern Kentucky students in the 1960s by folklore scholar Leonard Roberts.
Narrative subject areas include jokes, rhymes, riddles, sayings, superstitions,
tall tales, and tongue twisters.
This series consists of song texts and folk speech material collected from various
persons by Centre College faculty member D.L. Thomas during the early teens of
||Newspapers - Folklore and Local History
This series consists of folklore and local history writing from both small town
and city newspapers. Included are several pieces by such well known Kentucky
columnists as Allen Trout, Joe Creason, and Nevyle Schackelford.
||Ohio Valley Folk Research Project Publications
This series consists of folklore and local history publications of the Ohio Valley
Folk Research Project conducted in the late 1950s by the Ross County Historical
Society, Chillicothe, Ohio. They appear to be limited edition booklets and are
quite distinctive in that the covers of each booklet are made of wallpaper.
||Kenutcky Superstitions Card Archive
||Small Boxes 1-31
The Kentucky Superstitions Card Archive includes thousands of notecards that
record specific sayings, idioms, and anecdotes relating to local folklore,
superstitions, and general beliefs. Compiled by D.K. Wilgus with the
assistance of Eleanor Long-Wilgus, the Card Archive is organized by subject.
Topics include signs of health and illness, folk remedies, weather signs,
and superstitions related to relationships, birth and death, bodily functions
farming, and nature.
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