Contact Information
  • Librarian: Moira Marsh
  • Location: Herman B Wells Library E760
  • Phone: (812) 855-1550
Libraries & Subjects
last updated: 10/8/2012

Reference Works in Folklore & Ethnomusicology

All of the following works are shelved on the folklore reference shelves, located behind the elevator on the 7th floor of the main library. This list represents just the most frequently-used reference works in the folklore collection.

Folk Literature
Folk Music
Folk Belief


Brunvand, Jan Harold. Folklore: A Study and Research Guide. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976.

Although dated (1976), Brunvand’s discussion of the key reference works in folklore is a both accurate and useful roadmap to publications in the field.

Call number: Z5981 .B78

Steinfirst, Susan. Folklore and Folklife: A Guide to English Language Reference Resources. 2 vols. New York: Garland Pub., 1992.

This extensive, annotated list of many books and articles will lead you to useful works in any aspect of folklore and folklife. Since the author is not a folklorist, some of her annotations are idiosyncratic. Still she has uncovered an enormous number of useful works, which are arranged here by genre.

Call number: Z5981.S74

General Dictionaries and Encyclopedias:

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are not only useful for providing quick answers to ready reference questions (e.g “what is a charivari”), but may also be used to gain entry into a new topic of study for both students and teachers

Bauman, Richard, ed. Folklore, Cultural Performances, and Popular Entertainments. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Articles in this compact book are drawn from the much larger work The Encyclopedia of Communication. Each chapter provides a succinct definition of a genre of folklore and an introduction to the major issues in the study of that genre.

Call number: GR35.F64

McCormick, Charlie T., and Kim Kennedy White, eds.Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art. 2 ed. 3 vols. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2011

Call number: GR35 .F63 2011 or online

Brunvand, Jan Harold, ed. American Folklore: An Encyclopedia.

Call number: GR101.A54 1996 or online

The entries in these two encyclopedias are all signed and include annotated lists of references for further reading. Some entries are quite lengthy.

•  Leach, Maria. Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. 2 v. GR35.F9 

Yes, this is the one with the famed 17 different definitions of folklore. Despite its age, this compact encyclopedia  remains a valuable ready reference source for its succinct signed entries on customs, beliefs, mythological figures and motifs, and the like. However, its treatment of theory and of the branches and methods of folklore study are now very dated, and many entries take a more anthropological than folkloristic approach. The encyclopedia’s scope is cross-cultural, with American Indian folklore topics particularly well represented. 

•  Dorson, Richard Mercer, ed. Handbook of American Folklore. GR105.H36 1983

The chapters in this work are useful introductions to the study of various folklore topics (e.g. “The Folklore of Students,” “American Sports and Folklore”) and folklore methodologies (e.g. “Studying American Folkloric Films,” “Developing a Folklore Archive”). Despite the title, many of the entries here are relevant to folklore in general, not just the American varieties. 

•  Schoemaker, George H, ed. The Emergence of Folklore in Everyday Life: a Fieldguide and Sourcebook. GR45.5.E48 1989 

This book was written by folklore graduate students explicitly for undergraduate students. Each chapter introduces a topic or genre of folklore with emphasis on how to conduct a fieldwork project on that topic.  Model examples of student collection project papers are included. The select annotated bibliographies after each chapter provide useful guides for further reading. 

•  Inge, M. Thomas, ed. Handbook of American Popular Culture. 2nd ed. 3 v. E169.1.H2643 1989
•  Simpson, Jacqueline. A Dictionary of English Folklore. GR141. S573 2000 or online 

•  Lindahl, Carl et al. Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs. online

• Stone, Ruth, et. al. Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. ML100 .G16 1998 v.1-10 in Folkore Reference or Online

Comprehensive online encyclopedia devoted to world music research.  The electronic version contains the full text of the 10-volume print encyclopedia. 

Indexes and General Bibliographies:

•  MLA International Bibliography of Books and Articles on the Modern Languages and Literatures. Volume 5. Z5982 .M4 or online

THE bibliography for folklore, folklife, and ethnomusicology. Although the MLA Bibliography covers some folklore from its earliest issue in 1921, coverage improved a lot in 1981with the creation of a separate volume—Volume 5—that is devoted to folklore. The online version extends back to 1963.  Members of AFS can also purchase Volume 5 in print for a very low price each year. 

•  Taft, Michael, ed. The Centennial Index: One Hundred Years of the Journal of American Folklore. GR1 .J8  v. 101, no. 402

Includes everything ever published in JAF—including book reviews, obituaries, and notes and queries. 

•  Internationale Volkskundliche Bibliographie (IVB). 1917--. Z5982 .I62

If your specialization is in European ethnology and folklore, you should be familiar with the IVB. 

•  Szwed, John F. and Roger D. Abrahams. Afro-American Folk Culture: An Annotated Bibliography of Materials from North, Central, and South America, and the West Indies. 2v. Z5984.A44 S95

Although dated, this is the best and most comprehensive bibliography of the topic. 

Type- and Motif-Indexes:

Many libraries will own some or all of these indexes, all of which are based on the Aarne-Thompson system. However, many of the books that they refer to are collections of folktales written for children, including many that are quite elderly. 

•  Aarne, Antti. The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography. GR1 .F605, no. 184

•  Thompson, Stith. Motif-Index of Folk Literature; a Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-books, and Local Legends. 6 v. GR37.T41 or online 

•  Grimshaw, Polly Swift. Motif-Index of Folk Literature: Bibliography and Abbreviations, 1955 ed. 2nd, rev. ed. GR37.T41 Bibl. or Online

This slim volume gives complete (and correct) citations to all the books mentioned by Thompson in his Index, with IU Library call numbers. Since there are a number of errors and mysterious abbreviations in Thompson’s original bibliography, this companion volume can save a lot of frustration.

• Baughman, Ernest. Type and Motif-Iindex of the Folktales of England and North America. GR1 .I3, no. 20

For non-specialists, Baughman’s index may be more useful than Aarne-Thompson, since almost all the tale collections Baughman refers to are in English.

•  Ashliman, D. L. A Guide to Folktales in the English Language, Based on the Aarne-Thompson Classification System. Z5983.F17 A83

This index refers to a much smaller corpus of publications than either Baughman or Aarne and Thompson, but it has the virtue that more of the works referenced are likely to be available in a smaller library.  Ashliman, a professor of German, also includes a tale-type index to the tales of the Brothers Grimm.

•  MacDonald, Margaret Read. The Storyteller's Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children. GR74.6.M3 1982

•  MacDonald, Margaret Read and Brian W. Sturm. The Storyteller's Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children, 1983-1999. GR 74.6 .M3 2001.

•  Ireland, Norma Olin. Index To Fairy Tales, 1949-1972; Including Folklore, Legends, & Myths, In Collections. Z5983. F17 I65

•  ____________, 1973-1977, Including Folklore, Legends, And Myths In Collections, Fourth Supplement. Z5983. F17 I732

•  ___________, 1978-1986, Including Folklore, Legends, And Myths In Collections: Fifth Supplement.   Z5983. F17 I732 1989

Folk Literature:

•  Bennett, Gillian and Paul Smith. Contemporary Legend: A Folklore Bibliography. Z5981.B46 1993

•  Brown, Mary Ellen and Bruce A. Rosenberg, eds. Encyclopedia of Folklore and Literature. PN41 .E48 1998 and online 

•  Richmond, W. Edson. Ballad Scholarship: An Annotated Bibliography. Z7156.P7 R5 1989

•  Slatta, Richard W. The Mythical West: An Encyclopedia of Legend, Lore, and Popular Culture. online

•  Brunvand, Jan Harold. Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. online


•  Mercatante, Anthony S. The Facts on File Encyclopedia Of World Mythology And Legend. BL303 .M45

•  Bell, Robert E. Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Symbols, Attributes, & Associations. BL715.B44 1982

•  Dixon-Kennedy, Mike. Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology. BL715 .D56 1998

•  Gill, Sam D. and Irene F. Sullivan. Dictionary of Native American Mythology. E98.R3 G46 1992

•  Scheub, Harold. A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller. BL2400. S24 2000 or   online 

•  Sax, Boria. The Mythical Zoo: An Encyclopedia of Animals in World Myth, Legend, and Literature. online

Proverb and Folk Speech:

•  Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). 4v. PE2843 .D52 1985
In addition to providing information about the origins, meanings, and geographical distribution of American regional and dialect words, the DARE incidentally provides useful information about related folk customs.  Additional volumes are forthcoming.

•  Mieder, Wolfgang. International Proverb Scholarship: An Annotated Bibliography. Z7191. M543 1982 
•  ____________________: Supplement I (1800-1981). Z7191. M543 1990
•  ____________________: Supplement II (1982-1991). Z7191.M543 1990 v. 2

•  Mieder, Wolfgang. The Prentice-Hall Encyclopedia Of World Proverbs. PN6405 .M54 1986

Folk Music and Song:

•  Schuursma, Ann Briegleb. Ethnomusicology Research: A Select Annotated
. ML128. E8 S4 1992 

•  Miller, Terry E. Folk Music in America: A Reference Guide. ML128. F74 M5

•  Porter, James. The Traditional Music of Britain and Ireland. ML128.F74 P67 1989

• Stone, Ruth, et. al. Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. ML100 .G16 1998 v.1-10 in Folkore Reference or Online

Folk Belief:


•  Opie, Iona and Moira Tatem. A Dictionary of Superstitions. BF1775. D53 1989 or online

Although this work only covers British superstitions, it is extremely valuable especially because it is more accessible and better organized than the Frank C. Brown of North Carolina Folklore. The extensive indexing makes any folk belief easy to find.  Each entry consists of brief quotes illustrating the belief, arranged in chronological order, OED style. 

•  Kies, Cosette N. The Occult in the Western World: An Annotated Bibliography. Z6876.K53 1986

•  Eberhart, George M. Monsters, a Guide to Information on Unaccounted for Creatures, Including Bigfoot, many Water Monsters, and other Irregular Animals. QL89.E24 1983

•  Rasmussen, Richard Michael. The UFO Literature. Z5064.F5 R3

•  Lewis, James R. Satanism Today: An Encyclopedia of Religion, Folklore, and Popular Culture. online

•  Rose, Carol. Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth. online

Calendar Customs:

•  Cohen, Hennig and Tristram Potter Coffin. The Folklore of American Holidays: A Compilation of more than 500 Beliefs, Legends, Superstitions, Proverbs, Riddles, Poems, Songs, Dances, Games, Plays, Pageants, Fairs, Foods, and Processions Associated with over 120 American Calendar Customs and Festivals. 2nd ed. GT4803.F65 1991

•  MacDonald, Margaret Read. The Folklore of World Holidays. GT3930.F65 1992

•  Thompson, Sue Ellen. Holiday Symbols: A Guide To The Legend And Lore Behind The People, Places, Food, Animals, And Other Symbols Associated With Holidays And Holy Days…As Observed In The United States And Around The World. GT3930.T48 1998

•  Thompson, Sue Ellen and Barbara W. Carlson. Holidays, Festivals and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. GT3925.T46 1993

Folklife and Material Culture:

•  Bartis, Peter T. Folklife Sourcebook: A Directory of Folklife Resources in the United States. GR37.B37 1994

•  Ames, Kenneth L. and Thomas J. Scherleth. Material Culture: A Research
. E161.M35 1985

•  Harrison, Ira E. and Sheila Cosminsky. Traditional Medicine: Implications For Ethnomedicine, Ethnopharmacology, Maternal And Child Health, Mental Health, And Public Health: An Annotated Bibliography Of Africa, Latin America, And The Caribbean. PN6405 .M54 1986

•  Fashion and Costume in Popular American Culture: A Reference Guide. Z5694.U5 O45 1996

•  Sink, Susan. Traditional Crafts and Craftsmanship in America: A Selected Bibliography. Z6151.S5 1983

•  Schultz, Leroy G. Barns, Stables, and Outbuildings, 1700-1983: A World Bibliography. Z5943.B35 S38


last updated: 10/8/2012