Some may wonder if there could be a link between the contents of a high school locker and a book from the 1700s. But a broader definition of folklore held by the William A. Wilson Folklore Archives at Brigham Young University explains their connection.
A free exhibit, "Folklore: Illuminating Then and Now," is on display at the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University until Saturday, May 31. The exhibit, found in the Special Collections area on the first level of the library, traces the development of folklore studies and archives from 1777 to the present.
The exhibit is open Mondays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Kristi A. Bell at (801) 422-6041.
"When people think of folklore, they tend to think of Grimm tales, but that is actually a very small part of folklore," said Kristi A. Bell, an archivist for the William A. Wilson Folklore Archives. "Folklore has a rich historymore than what people believe."
Folklore includes studying legends, customs, speech beliefs, songs, material, culture, jokes, games, riddles and personal narratives in a particular time period.
"For example, you may have someone who wants to study the cures for hiccups. They would do research by talking to people to find out what they do to cure hiccups and why they think it will work," Bell said.
Much of the exhibit comes from collections in the William A. Wilson Folklore Archives that are part of the Library's Special Collection department founded in 1957.
Some of the older folklore in the exhibit includes research and books dating back to the 18th century. Newer displays include the art and writing found on a refrigerator door and the artwork on a high school locker.
"The exhibit is different from your typical library exhibit of books and manuscripts," said exhibits manager Shaun McMurdie. "It will inform the public about the scope of folklore studies and archival materials at BYU."
Many archived and exhibit items come from BYU students enrolled in an "Introduction to Folklore" class. As an assignment, they complete a folklore project. Scholars worldwide have used the archived materials for research purposes.
The exhibit has received funding from the Utah Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Writer: Liesel Enke