Folklore and Popular Culture

Strange Scenes in the Ozarks (title page)

Title page of a handmade book by Ozark artist M.E. Oliver, 1955.

Folklore research materials have been collected by the University Libraries from early in their history. Thanks in part to a number of dedicated professional and amateur collectors and promoters of Ozark folk material, Special Collections has a large and rich array of oral, musical, and written material documenting the life, arts, crafts, and stories of the region.

Vance Randolph, the foremost authority on Ozark folklore, lived in Eureka Springs and Fayetteville and influenced the collection and interpretation of Ozark Culture by his extensive scholarly and popular writing.

Mary Celestia Parler, a faculty member in the University of Arkansas English Department from 1948-1975, taught the classes in folklore. She and her students made field recordings of Ozark folksongs as well as other Arkansas folk music and her students contributed class reports and other field work on an extensive range of topics in folk and popular culture.

Otto Ernest Rayburn moved to the Ozarks in 1917. He lived in Missouri and Arkansas, where he was a teacher, newspaper publisher, bookseller, and promoter of tourism. Toward the end of his life he organized his enormous hoard of information about the Ozarks into the Ozark Folk Encyclopedia, now in the University Libraries.

In addition to materials pertaining to these three major figures, Special Collections holds many other materials of potential interest for folklore research, including a number of periodical works past and present.

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