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The New York Folklore Society, sponsors conferences for folklorists and people interested in folklore from all over the state. Educational lectures and presentations are planned with visits to interesting cultural sites, concerts, or dance parties, and good food and discussion. Won’t you join us?

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Conferences & Symposia

Annual Conference

Since its beginnings, NYFS has sponsored at least one conference a year. We provide educational offerings that appeal to folklorists and folklore students, professionals and students in related fields, educators, tradition bearers and traditional artists, and people interested in folklore from all over the state. The talk sessions—lectures and discussions—are balanced by such activities as boat tours, concerts or dance parties, visits to interesting cultural sites, and good food.

New York Folklore Society 2016 Conference!

Casita Rincon Criollo. 2014. Photo by Molly Garfinkel.
Crisis of Place: Preserving Folk & Vernacular Architecture in NY
Saturday, April 2, 2016
The Cooper Union, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets), 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?

Plenary and panel presentations featured:
Michael Ann Williams, Professor of Folk Studies, Western Kentucky University, Past President, The American Folklore Society

Andrew Dolkart of Columbia University, Professor and Director of Historic Preservation Program

Gabrielle A. Berlinger, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Folklore, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Zoe van Buren, Folklore Studies Graduate Student, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Matthew Singer, Graduate student, Penn State University

Caitlin Hays Black, Graduate student, Penn State University

Sydney Varajon, Graduate student, Western Kentucky University

Virginia Siegel, Graduate student, Western Kentucky University

Max Gideonse, Graduate student, Cooper Union

Chris Mulé, Director of Folk Arts, Brooklyn Arts Council

Joseph Sciorra, Director for Academic and Cultural Programs, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College

Molly Garfinkel, Director, Place Matters, City Lore

Magali Regis, NYC Community Garden Coalition, Sustainable Architecture

Cynthia Falk, Associate Professor, Material Culture, Cooperstown Graduate Program, SUNY Oneonta

Kay Turner, President, American Folklore Society

Hanna Griff-Sleven, Director of Family History Center & Cultural Programs, Eldridge Street Synagogue

Maria Kennedy, Coordinator of Folk Arts, Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes

Nancy Solomon, Executive Director, Long Island Traditions

Julie Tay, Vice-President and Executive Director, Mencius Society of the Arts

David Favaloro, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Lower East Side Tenement Museum
READ more about the conference here...


New York Folklore Society’s
Members’ Annual Meeting and Gathering

March 10, 2015
5:00-8:00 p.m.
Union Hall

702 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

NYFS Partnered with the Society for The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) for their 2014 Annual Conference

April 23-26, 2014, at The Strong, One Manhattan Square, Rochester, NY 14607


TASP is a multidisciplinary organization that promotes the study of play, support and cooperate with other organizations having similar purposes, and organize meetings and publications that facilitate the sharing and dissemination of information related to the study of play. TASP’s broad focus includes many disciplines and scholarly interests, including folklore and anthropology. With a shared interest in folklore and play, New York Folklore Society partnered with The Association for the Study of Play for their 2014 conference, “Connecting the Past, Present, and Future.”

From the left: Josh White Jr., Sonny Ochs, Oscar Brand and moderator Paul Mercer
at NYFS Fall Conference 2008, “The Folk Music Revival: Politics and Community”

For many years, these annual meetings of the New York Folklore Society focused on experiencing the folklore of specific regions of the state: Long Island, Chautauqua, Harlem, Watkins Glen, Saratoga Springs, and many more. Meetings in the past fifteen years have incorporated an Erie Canal boat ride (Seneca Falls, 1997), a guided walk through a Hudson Valley orchard (Clinton Corners, 1996), and an opportunity to drive at a NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack (Watkins Glen, 2004).

See Past Conferences to learn more about these events.

“Occupational Folklore” was the theme of the 2013 New York Folklore Society ’s annual conference, hosted by ArtsWestchester and produced in collaboration with ArtsWestchester and Long Island Traditions, March 2, 2013.

Panel on Apprenticeships


In 2010–2011, the Society embarked on a new conference format—a graduate student conference which showcased student work. These conferences have held at New York University (2010) and Binghamton University (2011).

READ the Conference Report for our 2011 conference, “Legends and Tales”
in Voices 37:3–4, 2011.


Symposia and Forums


New York Folklore Society presented a Folk Arts Forum:
Democratizing the (Folk) Arts
Nonprofit Workplace

February 28, 2016
5:00–8:00 p.m.
Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York), South Oxford Space
138 S. Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Registration FREE
Donations to support this and other events of the New York Folklore Society are welcomed!

The New York Folklore Society organized a folk arts forum meeting, convening 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.



The New York Folklore Society, Building Cultural Bridges, The American Folklore Society, and the New York State Council on the Arts presented


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


Upstate New York has become home to an ever-expanding community of refugees and immigrants from all over the world. Layering upon an already rich infrastructure of arts organizations, there is a great potential for an increasingly varied cultural landscape. Yet many of the artists from these communities struggle to maintain their expressive and cultural heritage traditions in the face of overwhelming and immediate needs as they adapt to their new environment.

The public was invited to a workshop that explored merging the arts with social services to better serve these newcomer communities and to enliven our community at large.

Read more and see photos from the event.

Each year the New York Folklore Society holds informal forums and events on topics of interest to the folklore field, professionals in related fields, and NYFS members. The New York Folklore Society reaches out to communities across the state, forging new collaborative partnerships.

At the Low Bridge, Everybody Down! An Erie Canal Music Celebration NYFS presented two days of music, history, and family fun on November 2–3, 2012, at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse. Workshops, concerts, presentations, discussions, and displays exploration of the rich musical heritage of the Erie Canal.

Erie Canal celebration

With Stitching Tradition: An Invitation to a Public Sewing Circle, NYFS, with funding from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, provided for an embroiderer’s exchange at the History Center of Tompkins County in November 2011. It included an exhibit of the work of Eniko Farkas of Ithaca and Very Nakonechny of Philadelphia, PA. Also included were four weavers from the Karen community of Utica who brought a Southeast Asian perspective to the gathering.

READ about more of the Society’s past Symposia and Forums.

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.

Council on the Arts

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