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 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.

Join the New York Folklore Society

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Your Membership today!
It’s an exciting time for NYFS as we reinvigorate our network and expand our impact across the state through our services and programs for the folklore field and traditional artists. Our members have been the heart and soul of the New York Folklore Society for more than 70 years, and your involvement is important to us!

Coming Soon!

From Trapper’s Cabin To Festival Stage: The Evolution of an Adirondack Storyteller

Varick A. Chittenden

Crossing Cultures
Thomas J. MacPherson

You’ll See Our Tracks: The Raquette River Dams Oral History Project
Camilla Ammirati

Gouging Tradition: Musings on Fingernail Fiddle Making
Eric L. Ball

And columns by Dan Berggren, Joseph Bruchac, Molly Garfinkel, Elena Martínez, Jennifer Morrissey, Nancy Solomon, Libby Tucker, and Steve Zeitlin and book reviews by Frieda Toth and Nancy Scheemaker.



Ellen McHale, NYFS Executive Director, announced: “The New York Folklore Society is pleased to announce that we received a $75,000 workforce development grant through the Regional Economic Development Council program.” (December 15, 2017). Read more on the NYFS Facebook.

Congratulations to New York Folklore Society Board member, Gabrielle Berlinger, for her interview at JSTOR Daily.
Gabrielle, a professor of American Studies and Folklore at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, is the author of the new book Framing Sukkot: Tradition and Transformation in Jewish Vernacular Architecture from Indiana University Press.

Gabrielle says: “When I tell people I’m a folklorist, they say that I must be a great storyteller and ask me what fairy tale or legend is my favorite. I have to explain that I don’t specialize in these well-known narrative traditions, and that Folklore Studies actually encompasses many different expressive traditions—verbal, material, and performative—that are passed down through the generations by oral transmission or practice. Folklorists study song, dance, religious and ritual performance, cooking, dress and body adornment, occupational labor, artistic production, architecture, and many, many more forms of expressive culture. By bridging the social sciences and humanities through the use of both ethnographic fieldwork and formal textual analysis, folklorists analyze everyday creative performances such as graffiti art, carpet weaving, religious home altars, or children’s handclapping games to learn about individual worldviews, shared cultural beliefs, community values, and social conditions.

Contact your Congressperson today: Ask them to support the NEA and NEH!
Cutting federal funding for the arts and humanities will hurt everyone. The impact won’t be short-term. . . . .
Read the entire message here

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


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Local Refugee Communities Celebrated in “Creating Refuge” programs
at the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC)
March 10 and 17, 2018, 6–8 p.m.

Refugees living in Rochester will share traditional cultural practices with the public during programs organized by the New York Folklore Society. These events are the result of the New York State Council on the Arts’ Upstate Folklife Survey and Program Development Initiative, a year-long effort to document and present the everyday traditions of Monroe County carried out by folklorist Hannah Davis.

Creating Refuge: Bhutanese-Nepali Life in Rochester, NY
March 10, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bhutanese-Nepali community members will share a selection of traditional dances and invite attendees to learn simple dance steps. Attendees will also have an opportunity to observe and learn about traditional knitting and dumpling-making. At 3 p.m. in the Bausch Auditorium, Davis will present a general overview of her documentation.

Karenni community members display customary
clothing worn most often for special events
Karenni community members display customary clothing worn most often for special events. Photo by Hannah Davis.

Creating Refuge: Karenni Life in Rochester, NY
March 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Karenni community members will share their own traditional dances and similarly invite attendees to learn simple dance steps. Dancers will be accompanied by local Karenni musicians. Attendees will also have an opportunity to observe and learn about traditional foods, flute-making, and customary clothing.

From Burma’s Kayah State, many Karenni fled to refugee camps during conflicts in the mid-‘90s. Their resettlement in Rochester began in the mid-2000s. After living in refugee camps as the result of ethnic cleansing, Bhutanese-Nepali families were first settled in Rochester in 2008.

Both “Creating Refuge” events are free with museum admission. Free parking is available on the RMSC campus. More information about RMSC is available at www.rmsc.org.

These events are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Their organization has been aided by the generous, collaborative spirit of the following organizations and individuals: community consultants Lachuman Pokhrel, Hemlal Suberi, and Lin Lin; Karenni Rochester Youth; Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services; the RIT Industrial Design program; the RIT Museum Studies program; the RIT School of Individualized Studies; and Foodlink.


In Harm’s Way
October 28, 2017 – October 1, 2018
Mabee Farm Historic Site, Rotterdam Junction, NY

A partnership with the New York Folklore Society, this timely exhibition explores local responses to hurricanes, the devastating impact natural disasters have on communities, and the resiliency of our neighbors.

SEE PHOTOS from the opening of the exhibit, “In Harm's Way: Community Responses to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee,” mounted in collaboration with Long Island Traditions and the Schenectady County Historical Society.
Thanks to all who attended the opening!

From left, Bryan Printup, a member of the Tuscarora Nation; the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University; Ellen McHale, director of the New York Folklore Society; and Thomas van Buren, president of the New York Folklore Society’s board of directors, opening the Symposium.

Cultural Migration: Displacement & Renewal
Symposium on Immigration and Resettlement in the Buffalo-Niagara Region of New York
September 8–9, 2017
The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University


Visit the Program Page for more details

Funding by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by Humanities New York, National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Folklore Society



Folklife in the Southern Tier
Postponed by snow. Stay tuned for rescheduling of this program.

Learn about Upstate Regional Representative Hannah Davis’s fieldwork in Broome County, try traditional Czech treats, and take a spin on the dance floor. Hannah will be joined by dancers from the Czechoslovak Moravan Club, who will perform a few dances and teach attendees basic steps before asking them to join them on the dance floor. Zahzvornik (ginger cookies) and kolachki (filled cookies) will be available to try. This program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Help us keep folklore vibrant in New York State with
your contribution!

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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SHOP NY Traditions Online
Folk art, CDs, books, handmade gifts! Find that unique gift for someone special!

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



William G. Pomeroy Foundation


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. READ MORE about the program, eligibility, grant deadlines, see photos and hear podcast.

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.

© 2018, 2017–1998 New York Folklore Society. Last updated February 26, 2018

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