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Conferences & Symposia

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?



Past Conferences

In the early years, the annual meeting took place jointly with the annual gathering of the New York Historical Association, the organization from which the New York Folklore Society originated. The Society’s New York City chapter also conducted an additional midwinter meeting that highlighted folklore activities within this urban core. The first New York Folklore Society meetings focused on papers presented by scholars from New York State, with musical and other performances: Pete Seeger and Frank Warner performed at early New York Folklore Society meetings, and an early meeting in Rochester included music by a local Ukrainian chorus. In the first ten years of the society, meetings were frequently in Cooperstown, but meetings were also held in Ticonderoga, Rochester, and Elmira, in an effort to extend the reach of the New York Folklore Society and to fulfill its statewide mission.

The general format of the annual meeting has consistently remained the same, albeit with a stronger stress on experiencing a region in more recent years. Increasingly, the conference has explored the folklore and folk culture of the host region. These conferences are for people interested in folklore from all over the state and region, professionals in the folklore and related fields, educators, and people from the area where the meeting is taking place.

2009 conference photo1999 conference photo
2007 conference photo2010 conference photo

At the annual meeting, held on November 20, 2010, the New York Folklore Society decided to launch a new initiative: a graduate student conference. There are precedents for this format, also. In commenting on the 1950 meeting, then-president Moritz Jagendorf wrote, “Another ‘new’ at the Rochester meeting was the suggestion to have an annual contest among students of New York State colleges and universities for the best paper on New York State folklore. The winner will receive fifty dollars, and his or her paper will be read before the members.” (It is unclear whether this suggestion was implemented!)


Past Annual Conferences

You can follow the links of our most recent conferences for more information about their topics and photographs from the conferences.
2014 Folklore of Play
2013 Occupational Folklore
2011 Legends and Tales
2010 Latino Folk Culture and Expressive Traditions
2009 North by Northeast: Baskets and Beadwork from the Akwesasne Mohawk and Tuscarora
2008 The Folk Music Revival: Politics and Community
2007 Voices of Belief: Folklore and the Sacred Arts
2006 Memory, Reminiscence and Narrative: A Symposium on Creativity and the Mastery of Elders
2005 Writing Folklore
2004 Watkins Glen: Where NASCAR Meets Nature
2003 Common Places, Uncommon Stories: Cultural Landmarking and Cultural Conservation in Upstate New York Communities held in Sackets Harbor, NY
2002 Image, Object, and Processes of Documentation (American Folklore Society’s 114th annual meeting with collaboration on all presentation and planning by NYFS) in Rochester, New York
2001 Culture, Innovation, and Folklore on New York’s Niagara Frontier in Fredonia, Chautauqua County, New York
2000 The Dynamics of African-American Folk Culture in New York City at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
1999 The Summer Worlds of Saratoga Springs at Saratoga Springs, New York
1998 Living, Working, and Playing on the Waters of Long Island at Hallockville Museum Farm and Folklife Center, on the North Fork of Long Island
1997 Whose Lore, Whose History? in Seneca Falls, in the northern Finger Lakes Region
1996 Cultivating Variety: Culture and Agriculture in the Hudson Valley at Breezy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill in Dutchess County, cosponsored by City Lore
1995 Colliding Truths in the Interpretation of Culture with the Cooperstown Graduate Association, in Cooperstown
1994 Folklore and the People: NYFS 50th Anniversary Conference at the Sage Colleges in Troy and the Albany Institute of History and Art
1993 Folk Arts in Education: Foxfire Plus at SUNY Brockport
1992 Adirondack Park and the Cultural Fabric of Life at the Sagamore Institute
1991 Tourism and the Ethnic Resort Experience at Fern Cliff House in East Durham
1990 The Folk Arts and Lore of Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass

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