American Folklore Society

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The American Folklore Society (AFS) is the US-based professional association for folklorists, with members from the US, Canada, and around the world. According to the Bylaws of the American Folklore Society, the society aims to: encourage research, aid in disseminating that research, promote the responsible application of that research, publish various forms of publications, advocate for the continued study and teaching of folklore, etc.[1] At present, almost half of its 2,200 members practice their work outside of higher education. In addition to professors, members include museum curators, librarians, arts administrators, freelance researchers, and others involved in the study and promotion of folklore and traditional culture. The Society is based at the Ohio State University and has an annual convention every October. The Society's quarterly publication is the Journal of American Folklore, currently edited by Thomas A. DuBois and James P. Leary.


AFS was founded in 1888 by William Wells Newell,[2] who stood at the center of a diverse group of university-based scholars, museum anthropologists, and men and women of letters and affairs. In 1945, the society became a member of the American Council of Learned Societies.[3] AFS is also an active member of the National Humanities Alliance (NHS).[4]

Over the years, prominent members of the American Folklore Society known outside of academic circles have included Mark Twain, Joel Chandler Harris, Zora Neale Hurston, Franz Boas, Ella Deloria, Ben Botkin, Alan Lomax, John A. Lomax, Jan Harold Brunvand, William Ferris, John Miles Foley and Marius Barbeau. The current president is Michael Ann Williams, Professor and Director of the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology at Western Kentucky University. Past presidents include Samuel Preston Bayard, Diane Goldstein, Dell Hymes, and Henry Glassie.


Every year, AFS awards various prizes to honor outstanding work in the field of folklore at the opening ceremony of the annual AFS meeting. These include the following:

  • The Zora Neale Hurston Prize is awarded annually and honors the best student work in the field of African American folklore.
  • The Américo Paredes Prize is awarded annually. The prize honors excellence in integrating scholarship and engagement with local communities.
  • The Benjamin A. Botkin Prize, is awarded annually to honor public folklorists and recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of public folklore.
  • The Chicago Folklore Prize is awarded annually and honors the author(s)for the best scholarly monograph in folklore.
  • AFS also awards the American Folklore Society Lifetime Scholarly Achievement Award, which is awarded every other year (even-numbered years). The award honors folklorists for outstanding accomplishments over a career of scholarship.
  • The Kenneth Goldstein Award for Lifetime Academic Leadership is awarded every other year (odd-numbered years) and honors those who have made contributions to supporting academic programs in folklore for outstanding achievement.[5]

Other prizes are awarded be different sections of the American Folklore Society.

  • The Children's Folklore Section awards the annual W. W. Newell Prize, which is presented for the best student essay.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bylaws of the American Folklore Society", Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  2. ^ Bell, Michael J (Jun–Aug 1973). "William Wells Newell and the Foundation of American Folklore Scholarship". Journal of the Folklore Institute 10 (1/2). JSTOR 3813877. 
  3. ^ "American Folklore Society", Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Members List (National Humanities Alliance)", Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  5. ^ "AFS Prizes", Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Women's Section". American Folklore Society. Retrieved December 28, 2011. Each year, the Women’s Section of the American Folklore Society awards two prizes in honor of pioneering scholar Elli Köngäs-Maranda. 
  7. ^ "W.W. Newell Prize". American Folklore Society. Retrieved December 28, 2011. The Children's Folklore Section annually offers the W. W. Newell Prize, which includes a cash award, for the best student essay on a topic in children's folklore. 

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