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Gypsy Lore Society

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The Gypsy Lore Society was founded in Great Britain in 1888 to unite persons interested in the history and lore of Gypsies and rovers and to establish closer contacts among scholars studying aspects of such cultures.[1]


David MacRitchie was one of its founders in 1888 and he worked with Francis Hindes Groome until 1892 to produce its quarterly journal. From 1892, the organisation was dormant until its revival in 1907, when MacRitchie became its president.

Another early member of the society was the explorer Sir Richard Burton, who wrote from Trieste in 1888:

We [The Gypsy Lore Society] must advance slowly and depend for success upon our work pleasing the public. Of course, all of us must do our best to secure new members, and by Christmas I hope that we shall find ourselves on the right road. Mr. Pincherle writes to me hopefully about his practical studies of Gypsy life in Trieste. As regards Orientalism in England generally I simply despair of it. Every year the study is more wanted and we do less. It is the same with anthropology, so cultivated in France, so stolidly neglected in England. I am perfectly ashamed of our wretched "Institution" in Hanover Square when compared with the palace in Paris. However, this must come to an end some day.[2]

1899 photo of R. A. Scott Macfie

The Society had ceased to function during World War I. Robert Andrew Scott Macfie had set it up again round 1906 and John Sampson was its president of 1915. The Romani scholar Dora Esther Yates supported the society's revival in 1922 and she became its de facto secretary although this did not happen formally until 1932.[3][4]

Since 1989 it has been headquartered in the United States. Its goals include promotion of the study of Roma, Gypsies and Travellers. Gypsy Lore Society publications include journal Romani Studies continuing Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society and Newsletter of the Gypsy Lore Society. The biannual journal, Romani Studies, concerned with disseminating accurate information aimed at increasing understanding of these cultures in their diverse forms. The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society appeared in four series, starting in July 1888. The Society's archives are held at the University of Liverpool.

The Gypsy and Traveller cultures represented include those traditionally known as Roma, Sinti, Calé, Romnichels, Ludar, Irish Travellers, Scottish Travellers and others.

The Society also sponsors programmes and conferences. The North American chapter of the Society established the Victor Weybright Archives of Gypsy Studies in 1978,[5] specialising in recent scholarly work on Gypsy, Traveller and related studies. This research collection is now housed at the University of Michigan.

The president of the Gypsy Lore Society from 2012 to 2020 was Elena Marushiakova.[6] From 2020 the president of the Gypsy Lore Society is Tatiana Podolinska.


  1. ^ Gypsy Lore Society Collections - University of Liverpool Library Guides
  2. ^ Wright, Thomas (August 1888). The Life of Sir Richard Burton. p. 155. ISBN 9783842455382.
  3. ^ Kamm, Antony. "Yates, Dora Esther". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/65659. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Sampson, Anthony (1997). The Scholar Gypsy: The Quest for a Family Secret. John Murray. pp. 77 and 122. ISBN 0719557089.
  5. ^ "Weybright Archives". The Gypsy Lore Society. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  6. ^ Marushiakova, Elena (20 September 2012). "Opening Speech at the Annual Meeting and Conference of the GLS". Council of Europe. Retrieved 5 October 2021.

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