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Folklore & folklife collection

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Folklore is an interdisciplinary field that touches upon many subjects taught at Penn and once was its own department. As it has evolved as its own discipline, it has moved from focusing on the study of objects, broadly defined, to an ethnological phenomenological approach. Materials with a literary orientation, written or oral tend to be collected in Van Pelt. Folk Art are in the Fine Arts Library. Ethnographic works are in the Museum library.

Collection description

Penn had for several decades the world’s premier department in the field and the depth of the library collection reflected that status. Now that folklore is only a program the collection is more basic, supports other fields and is strongest in reference works. The larger collection focused on primary source materials such as texts and tools providing access to them.

Special collections

The Folklore archive of the Department of Folklore and Folklife was transferred to the University Museum Archive when the department was disbanded. It is especially strong in music from the Caribbean and the Canadian Maritime.

Links to special collections will go here if they exist.
Links to policies will go here if they exist.

Doing research

Folklore/Folklife is ruthlessly interdisciplinary. As such it requires familiarity not only with the methods of several disciplines but also with their resources.


MLA International Bibliography  |  Anthropology Plus

Major journals

Research guides