Academic journal article Western Folklore

American Regional Folklore: A Sourcebook and Research Guide

Academic journal article Western Folklore

American Regional Folklore: A Sourcebook and Research Guide

Article excerpt

American Regional Folklore: A Sourcebook and Research Guide. By Terry Ann Mood. (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004. Pp. xxii + 475, acknowledgments, introduction, maps, index. $85.00 cloth, $90.00 eBook, $130.00 both)

Despite the fact that its publication date is 2004 and many of its bibliographic citations come from within the last twenty years and websites are included, this book has the look and feel of a publication from the 1950's or 1960's-from its schoolbookish cover portrait of Davy Crockett, to its lengthy explanations of how to do research in a public library, to its didactic language. I picture compiler Terry Ann Mood as a reference librarian in a cardigan, spectacles on a chain around her neck.

This stereotypic image suggesting rigorous correctness is unfortunately blurred by evidence of poor copy-editing in the text. On the very first page, William J. Thorns, coiner of the word "folk-lore," is called "William J. Thomas." That said, I must acknowledge that there are many positive things to note about this reference work. It has plenty of annotated citations of works old and new, fascinating lists directing the reader to other types of regional information, and decent overviews of American regional folklore by reputable folklorists. As with most of ABC-CLIO's reference works, the intended audience is necessarily vague and broad. "A student of folklore" and "people who want to incorporate folklore into a project" are cited as the two major groups that might find the book useful. I expect that neither the graduate-level student of folklore, nor professionals in the field who want to incorporate folklore into a project, will find it so. But if you are not a professional folklorist with knowledge of a particular region of the United States-in which case you will see what has been left out, glossed over, or misinterpreted-you can learn a lot from this book.

The volume is in two parts-first, folklore research methods, and second, essays on regional folklore. Each part has its own set of bibliographical offerings. Terry Ann Mood has taken on a daunting job in trying to compile even a fraction of the available works containing regional American folklore, going back as far as the middle of the nineteenth century and carrying up to the present. She does not pretend to have done an exhaustive job of it, saying instead that these works will "perhaps whet the appetite for locating more," and offering extensive chapter materials on library research (chapter 1) and "research beyond the library" (chapter 2) to aid in the effort.

One of the best things about the work is the regional overview essays by folklorists in part two. …

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