Contact Information
  • Librarian: Moira Marsh
  • Location: Herman B Wells Library E760
  • Phone: (812) 855-1550
Libraries & Subjects
last updated: 6/24/2010

About the Folklore Collection at Indiana University Bloomington Libraries

Go to:    History Location


The Folklore Collection at the Indiana University Libraries is the largest, most comprehensive working collection of its kind in the world. It contains over 57,000 volumes, including over 41,000 monographs and 850 serials (we have over 250 current serial subscriptions). It also includes a non-circulating folklore reference collection of approximately 275 titles, and a number of special collections. To see a list of recent acquisitions in the folklore collection, click here.

Croatian Fairy Tale.

The collection houses books, monographs, conference proceedings, newsletters, and journals from all over the world. It covers all genres and specializations in the disciplines of folklore and ethnomusicology, including:

  • Folk literature (myths, tales, legends, riddles, proverbs, folk speech,etc.)
  • Ethnomusicology, folk music and folk song
  • Folk art and folk craft
  • Folk and vernacular architecture
  • Manners and customs: especially life cycle rituals, festivals, and calendar customs
  • Folk costume
  • Folk dance
  • Folk belief
  • Folk medicine
  • Folk religion
  • Occupational folklore
  • Ethnic folklore
  • Urban folklore
  • Popular culture
  • Folklore and psychology
  • Folklore and culture
  • Folklore and literature

Most of the materials we collect are research publications in Western European languages, but we also collect popular works, as well as works in other languages. These include materials in the vernacular from Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe as well as African and Latin American publications.




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    History of the Collection 

    The Folklore Collection has a long unbroken history at Indiana University. The collection was brought together, nurtured and sustained for forty years (1920-1959) by Stith Thompson, Distinguished Professor of English. The library administration encouraged this development and provided Thompson with funds to purchase library materials during his research trips to Europe, South America, and Asia. Thompson's purchases were especially extensive in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Scandinavia. The collection grew as an offshoot of Thompson's work on his monumental Motif-Index of Folk Literature (1932-37; rev. 1955-57). This work established Indiana University as a focal point for the comparative study of folklore from an international viewpoint.

    • (For a PDF outline of the Motif-Index, click here.)

    • A revised and updated electronic version of the Bibliography and Abbreviations for Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk Literature (1955) is available here.

    Stith Thomspon - IU ARchives

    Stith Thompson.           Photo: IU Archives

    In 1978, the Folklore Collection was awarded a major NEH Title II grant for preservation microfilming and photocopying of late 18th and 19th-century materials. The grant also supported the retrospective conversion of the entire collection, which is now fully accessible through the Libraries' online catalog.


    Location of the Folklore Collection

    The collection is located on the seventh floor of the Indiana University Bloomington Wells Library (A-Z in the Library of Congress call number system). Microform collections are in Government Information, Microforms and Statistical Services (GIMSS), on the second floor of the Wells Library. Many valuable audio materials are located in the Archives of Traditional Music in Morrison Hall, and ethnographic field collections are to be found in the Folklore Archives.


    A list of Folklore resources can be found here.

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    For further information or assistance using the collection, please contact the subject librarian for Folklore:

    Moira Smith
    Wells Library E760

    last updated: 6/24/2010