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The New York Folklore Society works
to foster the vitality, persistence, and understanding of the folklore and folklife
that enrich groups and communities
in New York and beyond.

Support the New York Folklore Society


Community Programming

“Folklore and folk arts are pervasive, but are often not recognized until someone points them out as being part of the social fabric of a community...Folklore as a discipline stands today at an interesting place. In an era when the next Big Idea is usually celebrated, folklorists are working hard to recognize communities’ maintenance of cultural traditions. We have allies in new movements that are coming to the forefront in American society, such as the 100-mile diet and buy-local movement, which champion locally harvested foods and locally owned businesses as key to maintaining communities’ character.

Folklorists are uniquely positioned to lend an important voice to the debates around immigration and immigration reform. As globalization brings the world together, folklore works to draw attention to that which is local, individual, and expressive...“—Ellen McHale, Executive Director, NYFS (From the Director, Spring-Summer 2010, Voices)

Ellen in China NYFS DIRECTOR ELLEN McHALE, PhD, VISITS NYIT-NANJING, CHINA Center for Humanities and Culture. Dr. McHale’s presentation was part of a “Folk Arts in New York State” program organized by Beverly Butcher, Center Director. Read more here.

Adirondack Attic Music History Tour featuring Dan Berggren and Andy Flynn
andy flynnFriday, May 22, 2015
7:30 p.m.

GE Theater, Proctors
432 State Street
Schenectady, NY


Photo by Ben Halpern
Photo by Benjamin Halpern. See Voices 38:1–2: “Sullivan County’s Diehl Homestead Farm
Farm and Field: The Rural Folk Arts of the Catskill Region
Photography by Benjamin Halpern

June 1–July 30, 2015
Livingston Manor Free Library
92 Main Street, Livingston Manor, NY

Reception and Curator’s Talk
with Benjamin Halpern and Ellen McHale, PhD
July 24, 6:30 p.m.

“Farm and Field: The Rural Folk Arts of the Catskill Region” is one of New York Folklore Society’s collaborative initiatives to document and showcase the rural folk arts of the Catskills region of New York State, especially those folk arts which relate to the community of farmers and agricultural workers in this region. Read more....

The New York Folklore Society is planning to come to your community to meet you—our members and supporters! In a program initiated by the NYFS Board of Directors, NYFS is hosting small gatherings throughout the state. In honor of Leap Year 2012, Board of Directors member Kay Turner hosted a gathering at McManus Pub in Lower Manhattan to which several dozen people attended. A second gathering was held in Schenectady on June 30, 2012. Thanks to Joanne Sifo and other members of the band, “Dyer Switch,” the Society hosted an afternoon of music and Cajun cuisine at Café Nola in Schenectady. On May 12, 2013, at Proctors in Schenectady, we held a special reception and dinner preceding a concert that featured Pete and Peggy Seeger. On September 6, 2013, we hosted Indian dining and music at the Taj Mahal Restaurant in Schenectady. While these are events through which NYFS hopes to raise some needed funds, it is an opportunity also to meet you, our members and supporters.
Pete Seeger
Photo: Martha Cooper

Latino Dance Summit PerformanceLATINO DANCE SUMMIT at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, August 9-11, 2013, a new initiative of the New York Folklore Society, provided a professional development opportunity for the myriad of community-based Latino dance programs in New York State which work with youth. The 2013 symposium provided professional development for adult leaders who teach the dance styles of Latin and South America. At the same time, it provided an opportunity for teen dancers to showcase their own traditional dance styles to their peers. The symposium culminated in a final performance open to the general public.
Read more here about the Latino Dance Summit Concert...

In 2010, the New York Folklore Society launched its first of a series of Latino Artist Gatherings with a focus on “working with youth and youth programming,” in partnership with Long Island Traditions. Latino artists and advocates from around New York State gathered at Long Island Traditions in Port Washington. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Latino workshops provided opportunities to support and sustain the work of Latino artists and community leaders through creating opportunities for professional development and networking with like-minded individuals. Read more...
SEE more of the community programs that we’ve sponsored, and come back here for updates on new community initiatives.

The New York Folklore Society and its programs are funded by the
New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Council on the Arts         NEA-logo-color200

Stable Views: Life in the Backstretch of the Thoroughbred Racetrack

Photo of Juan Bon Bom Galbez demonstrating the Chilean art of braiding manes
Photo of Juan Bon Bom Galbez demonstrating the Chilean art of braiding manes

Come Join Us for the Exhibition Opening!
Friday, June 5, 7 p.m.
Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, NY 11354

Based upon research by NYFS Executive Director, Ellen McHale, through an Archie Green Fellowship in Occupational Folklore from the Library of Congress, this exhibition portrays the workers in the “backstretch” of the thoroughbred racetracks. Explore the community found within the backstretch of the thoroughbred racetracks in New York State, such as Belmont. As a location, the “backstretch” is that physical area of the racetrack lying out of sight from the public. The backstretch can also refer to the community of workers which is forged through a common activity – the care of the race horse. Discover the world of trainers, exercise riders, jockeys, saddle makers and others. It opens at Flushing Town Hall on June 5, 2015, and runs June 6 – June 28, 2015. Gallery Hours: Sat & Sun 12–5 p.m. Suggested Admission: $5/FREE for Members & Students. Read more...

MLK Day of Service
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Reflection on Service:
Stories of Hurricane Irene

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, SALT (Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery), the New York Folklore Society, and AmeriCorps VISTA, were proud to sponsor The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Reflection on Service: Stories of Hurricane Irene on Monday, January 20, 2014. We began collecting and recording stories of the storm and the recovery effort so that New Yorkers of the future will have a better understanding of the storm’s impact, the residents’ will to survive, and the efforts of volunteers from across the region and the country to assist the community rebuild. Read more...

The Schoharie Creek, which has its origins near Windham, NY, feeds the Gilboa Reservoir in Southern Schoharie County. Its waters provide drinking water for New York City, turn the electricity-generating turbines at the New York Power Authority, and are then loosed again to meander up the Schoharie Valley to Schoharie Crossing, the site of an Erie Canal Aqueduct, where the waters of the Schoharie Creek enter the Mohawk River. Because it is a “captive river” (in that its waters do not flow unheeded and are interrupted by the dam at Gilboa), the Schoharie Creek in summertime is sleepy and unhurried. In my little hamlet along the Schoharie, summertime visitors clamber over rocks to float in the dwindling swimming holes, which shrink as the summer heat intensifies...READ “From the Director” (Voices 38-3-4, 2012)

In its second year, the Schenectady Community Cultural Documentation Program again collaborated with the Schoharie River Center for a six-week summer employment training program. Besides learning skills of scientific inquiry through their studying the water quality of the Schoharie Creek and its watershed, 19 teens from Schenectady also worked with NYFS folklorists Ellen McHale and Lisa Overholser to learn ethnographic documentation skills. Read more...

This collaborative program continues throughout the 2012–2013 school year with support from the William Gundry Broughton Charitable Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. New teams are meeting weekly at the Schenectady High School. On a project blog showing the results of the teens’ work, in their own voices, you can follow along with them as they uncover some of the most exciting and interesting aspects of Schenectady.

Braided rug artist Belle Thompson
Braided rug artist, Belle Thompson, working with documentation intern, Sapeca, at the
2nd Annual Schoharie River Day Celebration

The New York Folklore Society sponsored Hungarian Trilogy, a series of Hungarian dance and music events
presented statewide in spring 2011. The series highlighted both traditional and popular music and dance forms brought to New York State by Hungarian immigrant communities over the last century. Read more...

The New York Folklore Society, Building Cultural Bridges, the American Folklore Society, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature presented

The Art of Community:

Friday, May 17, 2013, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee St., Utica, NY 13501

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