NYFS logo           tagline
 Pinto Guira making guiramaking lacemaking a mandalaplaying mandolin
The New York Folklore Society
celebrates the extraordinary in
everyday life, bringing focus
to traditions of our state’s
diverse peoples.

NYFS fosters the study, promotion, and continuation of folklore and folklife of New York’s diverse cultures through education, advocacy, support, and outreach.



Visit the Gallery of New York Artists at the NYFS
New York Folklore Society
129 Jay Street
Schenectady, NY
Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
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Folk art, CDs, books, handmade gifts! Find that unique gift for someone special!

SEE “Railroad Phaintings!” with K. O. Wilson on Schenectady Today

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Mentoring and Professional Development

NYFS Director Ellen McHale
Visits China...
Read more here.

Ellen in China

Refugees enrich our communities with their skills, dreams, and aspirations. NYFS supports continued resettlement
in the US.



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vernacular architecture
Photo by Ellen McHale
2016 NYFS Conference!

Crisis of Place: Preserving Folk & Vernacular Architecture
in New York

Saturday, April 2, 2016
The Cooper Union, Rose Auditorium
New York City

⇒  See Conference Schedule.
⇒  See Photos from the Conference.

In this one-day conference, folklorists, architects, historic preservationists, museum professionals, community members, and students came together to address questions concerning the significant crisis in our understanding of everyday landscapes and the built environment:

What is the folk and vernacular architecture of New York State? What makes it “folk” or “vernacular?”
How are the conditions of urban and rural life in 2016 challenging traditional architectural practices among various ethnic and regional communities?
Who is sustaining vernacular design and construction in the face of globalization and gentrification, and why?

The conference featured plenary and panel presentations with: Michael Ann Williams (Western Kentucky University); Andrew Dolkart (Columbia University); Chris Mulé (Brooklyn Arts Council); Joseph Sciorra (John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College); Molly Garfinkel (Place Matters, City Lore); Magali Regis (NYC Community Garden Coalition, Sustainable Architecture); Cynthia Falk (Cooperstown Graduate Program in Material Culture); Kay Turner (President, American Folklore Society); Hanna Griff-Sleven (Eldridge Street Synagogue); Maria Kennedy (Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes); Nancy Solomon (Long Island Traditions); Julie Tay (Mencius Society of the Arts); David Favaloro (Lower East Side Tenement Museum); Gabrielle A. Berlinger (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill); Zoe van Buren (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill); and graduate students specializing in folk and vernacular architecture.

READ more about the conference here...


See author Ellen McHale interviewed on Schenectady Today In & Around the Capital Region (11/24/15)

pomeroy-375William G. Pomeroy Foundation

We are in our 2nd Year!

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation partnered with the New York Folklore Society in 2015 to launch a grant program to celebrate legends and folklore as part of New York’s history. In just one year, we funded 14 markers.
Legends are sometimes referred to as “folk history.” They are reports and stories that explain an unusual event, a unique person, or warn others as in a cautionary tale. Passed from person to person over time, there is often historical truth at the heart of every legend. The details, however, are often altered through oral communication.

ELIGIBILITY Grants available to 501(c)3 organizations and municipalities within New York State.

GRANT DEADLINES – Apply online at www.wgpfoundation.org
June 30, 2016 and October 31, 2016

FOR MORE INFORMATION: The William Pomeroy Foundation at info@wgpfoundation.org or 315-476-3000 x2576.


The New York Folklore Society (NYFS) has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in the funding cycle announced on May 10. NYFS is the only recipient for this round of NEA support within the central Capital Region (Albany, Schenectady, Troy).


An NEA grant of $13,000 will support Traditional Arts Learning: A Study and Convening. The society’s mentorship and professional development programs for folk artists, folklorists, and community organizers will be analyzed through surveys, phone conversations, and group discussions with the programs’ participants. A conference will evaluate the findings and offer suggestions for improvements. The results of the survey and meeting will be published in a report that will be posted online. The project marks the organization’s 25th year of conducting professional development programs.

NYFS has also been awarded $40,000 through the NEA Partnership program to support statewide technical assistance and professional development services to the folk and traditional arts field. These services will expand to include field research, technical assistance, and programming in the Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier regions of the state. Technical assistance and professional development services developed by New York Folklore Society and the New York State Council on the Arts will include activities such as organizational and board development assistance, artists’ marketing and self-presentation, and community scholar field schools, as well as programs for emerging folklorists, including conferences, internships, and convenings.

A NYFS Folk Arts Forum:
Democratizing the (Folk) Arts Nonprofit Workplace
February 28, 2016, 5-8 p.m.
Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York), South Oxford Space
Brooklyn, NY 11217

SEE VIDEOS from the Forum
The New York Folklore Society convened an evening Folk Arts Forum with a panel discussion, breakout sessions, and collective dialogue on the topic of “Democratizing the Arts nonprofit Workplace.” The program presented various perspectives approaching this topic. This forum generated and documented a varied and critical conversation about best practices in the (folk) arts nonprofit field (aka public sector ethnography/culture work) and explored several different schools of thought about how more sustainable and more democratic ways of working together in the field of folk arts may be achieved. FIND out more here...

STABLE VIEWSA moving revelation of the many essential workers and their lives on the backside of horse racing
Stable Views offers an inside look at the thoroughbred racing industry through the words and perspectives of those who labor within its stables. NYFS Director Ellen E. McHale gathered oral narratives from those most intimately involved with racing: stable workers, exercise riders, and horse trainers who form the backbone of the industry.
160 pages (approx.), 8 x 8 inches, 45 color photographs, bibliography, index

Support New York Folklore Society when you search the Web or shop online with GoodSearch.
NYS Council on the Arts
The New York Folklore Society’s programs are made possible in part with public funds from the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, The William Gundry Broughton Charitable Trust, The Arthur Z. Solomon Charitable Trust, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, New York Council on the Humanities, Stewarts’ Corporation, IBM Corporation, the Community Loan Fund of the Greater Capital Region, the Rotary Club of Schenectady, and Schenectady County Initiative Program.

© 2016, 2015–1998 New York Folklore Society. Last updated May 28, 2016

NEW YORK FOLKLORE SOCIETY ♦ 129 Jay Street ♦ Schenectady, NY 12305 ♦ 518.346.7008 ♦ Fax 518.346.6617 ♦ nyfs@nyfolklore.org