Progress on the Folklore Collection

By:  Molly Gullett

Edgar SlotkinOver winter break, a good deal of progress was made on the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection (SWOFC) web exhibit. Work on the exhibit is almost complete and it should be available online within the next couple of weeks. This exhibit will feature brief glimpses into the various genres of the collection, as well as a link to the finding aid.  All the research materials in the SWOFC were donated by professor emeritus Edgar Slotkin who collected them over the span of his four decades of teaching folklore in the Department of English at UC. He saved the years’ worth of student work which now makes up the collection. Continue reading

Organizing the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection

By:  Molly Gullet

Work on The South West Ohio Folklore Collection has been underway for a little over two months now, and the organization of the collection is developing well. Folklore LexiconWhat began as five somewhat disheveled boxes filled with folkloric writings, pictures, cartoons and cassette tapes has finally been organized by genre.

The first step in the process of organizing the collection was sifting through what we now know to be over six hundred folklore papers and almost ninety audio materials. The papers were sorted according to the following 15 categories: Miscellaneous Proverbs, Miscellaneous Stories, Urban Legends, Ethnic, Specific Topic, Literary Analysis, Humor, Children’s Lore, Graffiti, Local Festivals and Events, Songs and Ballads, Uncanny, Food Lore and Remedies, Female and Gaming lore. The collected pieces were written as assignments given by professor emeritus Edgar Slotkin who is also the donor of the collection and because of this, common themes are found throughout. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Tradition

By:  Molly Gullett

Many of us are preparing this week for Thanksgiving, one of America’s oldest traditional holidays. Food rituals are key in most cultures, and they are certainly featured in the contents of the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection. TurkeyProviding a common link and shared experience, Thanksgiving dinner, and the holiday itself are prime examples of traditional American culture.

There are many Thanksgiving traditions which mark the holiday as an example of folkloric tradition. We may take for granted how commonly held practices such as preparing a turkey or breaking the wishbone might be considered folklore given their ubiquity, but folklore can be just that: a ritual so regularized that it begins to be practiced without thought. Continue reading

Myra's Dionysus: Local Folk Art and Food Lore

By Molly Gullett

The Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection features a wide range of folklore related topics and this week’s blog explores food lore and folk art with a local twist. Carol Watkins’ paper from the collection features photographs and information on Myra’s Dionysus, a charming restaurant situated in a unique building at 121 Calhoun Street. Myra’s Dionysus is well known locally for their ethnic foods, vegetarian options and, perhaps most notably, for their seasonal soups. If you have ever visited the restaurant, you might remember that the soups which are being offered that day are listed on colorful hand-painted signs hanging in the doorway to the small, but cozy, dining room. Continue reading

Silver Linings and Early Birds: Weather Lore in the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection

By:  Molly Gullett

The ability to predict and foresee oncoming weather has long fascinated humans. Before advanced Doppler technology and the ability to capture satellite images, weather prediction methods were passed through generations by way of proverbs and superstitions. The Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection features such lore and shows the interesting ways that it continues to be cycled because of its (sometimes surprising) accuracy.

Almanac from 1818Jennifer L. Collins’ contribution to the folklore collection has a wide range of weather lore from Southeastern Indiana farmers who depend on the proverbs’ precision even in contemporary times. Even before almanacs became popular, easy to remember lines were most effective for passing the tradition of weather lore. A fairly common proverb of Southern Ohio is “Red sky at night, sailors delight, Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” This lore can be traced back at least to biblical times where it is paraphrased in Matthew 16:3 “And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring” (King James Bible). Continue reading

Local Lore: Haunted Buildings of Clifton

By:  Molly Gullett

Arlin's LogoAs Halloween approaches, many of us are preparing to celebrate the holiday, from trick-or-treating to haunted house tours.  October is a month filled with a sense of the uncanny, and the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection has many local examples from several research papers dealing with all things mysterious and ghoulish.

All communities have their collective legends and mysteries, and Clifton is no exception. Elise Maynard’s paper in the collection titled The Arlin’s Ghost in a Community Context features first-hand accounts from Arlin’s bartenders on the supernatural legends housed within this Ludlow Avenue bar. For years among the staff, there have been legends passed down about spirits that inhabit the building. The oral legends that passed down were brought to action when several bartenders and a few patrons conducted a séance in the basement. Continue reading

The Haunting of Wilson Auditorium

By:  Molly Gullett

Wilson AuditoriumPlay in Wilson AuditoriumAs work proceeds on the Southwest Ohio Folklore Archives, there are a few papers that are certainly appropriate at this time of year.  In November, 2002, student Mathew Z. Keller submitted his contribution to the archive with an account of UC’s Wilson Auditorium.  Superstition and mystery are as linked with theatre as performance itself and there are many superstitions associated with theatre.  Of course, there is “break a leg” instead of “good luck,” and the ominous effects of saying Macbeth backstage. Perhaps less known is the superstition to never whistle anywhere in a theatre because it signifies that a play will be ending soon. Another ritual is to leave a ghost light on in the belief that it would convince spirits of the theatre that they had not been forgotten. Like most, UC’s theatres are also riddled with superstitions and legends which comprise their lore. Continue reading

Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection

By Molly Gullett

Mabel H. Singing Telegram Company

Mabel H. Singing Telegram Company

The Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection in the Archives & Rare Books Library’s Urban Studies Collection, is made up of several hundred small research projects of written and illustrated folklore that have been collected since the early 1970s by the students of professor emeritus Edgar Slotkin. In my efforts to make sense of such a wide variety of topics as I begin this year-long internship, I began sorting the papers into categories. In all, fifteen separate genres were discovered, among them proverbs, stories, jokes, children’s games, local festivals, the uncanny, bathroom stall graffiti, and food lore. Continue reading

Welcome to the ARB Intern for 2012-2013

By Kevin Grace

Molly Gullett is a fourth year History major at the University of Cincinnati and is the Archives & Rare Books Library intern for the 2012-2013 academic year.   Each year, ARB selects an intern to work on one specific project from its collections.  The intern must be an undergraduate of junior or senior standing or a graduate student, and must have taken courses relevant to the project.  Other qualifications include the earning of academic credit within the intern’s major field of study.  The project includes complete processing of a collection, the preparing of an Encoded Archival Description finding aid, and the design and preparation of a web exhibit that highlights the collection.  The project will be completed by the end of spring semester of 2013.

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