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New York Folklore Society Books

Visit our online gallery to purchase our books. Below is a listing of the books we have published:

stableviews-bk-300STABLE VIEWS: Stories and Voices from the Thoroughbred Racetrack Ellen McHale (University of Mississippi Press, 2015).

A moving revelation of the many essential workers and their lives on the backside of horse racing


“Those of us who thrill to the speed, grace, and excitement of thoroughbred horse racing are often unaware of the behind-the-scenes traditions, customs, and occupational drama taking place in the ‘backstretch.’ This winning new study by folklorist Ellen McHale introduces readers to the colorful world of ‘flat track’ workers—the world of bug boys, hot-walkers, exercise riders, judges, and grooms. The author lets us listen in on fascinating conversations with the men and women who, in-between ‘ponying,’ ‘walking the hots,’ and ‘breezing’ their horses, recount their eventful careers on the racetrack circuit. McHale provides readers with a delightful and engaging ‘inside track’ to the world of racing.”—Nancy Groce, senior folklorist, Library of Congress

Stable Views offers an inside look at the thoroughbred racing industry through the words and perspectives of those who labor within its stables. In more than 14 years of field research, NYFS Director Ellen E. McHale traveled throughout the Eastern Seaboard, Kentucky, and Louisiana to gather oral narratives from those most intimately involved with racing: the stable workers, exercise riders, and horse trainers who form the backbone of the industry. She interviewed workers at Saratoga, Belmont, Tampa Bay Downs, Keeneland, the Evangeline Training Center in Louisiana, and the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. Workers within all sectors of the thoroughbred world have long histories of involvement in the racing industry, with many individuals shifting occupational roles throughout their lifetimes. The thoroughbred racetrack operates as a multicultural workplace that relies upon apprenticeship and mentoring. Many workers speak to the history, the joys, the hardships, and the miracles of horse racing along with the changes that they have experienced through their long careers. Included in the book are discussions about luck, the occupational language of the racetrack, race and gender, and recent changes in the industry, all in the words and voices of the stable workers.

160 pages (approx.), 8 x 8 inches, 45 color photographs, bibliography, index, 9781496803689 Cloth

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

New York State Folklife Reader

New York State Folklife Reader: Diverse Voices, Elizabeth Tucker and Ellen McHale, eds. (University of Mississippi Press, 2013).


From the Introduction: “This book honors the diverse voices that have made New York’s traditional culture so rich and intriguing...Through this volume, we hope to share the journals’ insights with a larger audience.

New York and its folklore scholars hold an important place in the history of the discipline of folklore. Folklorists in New York are found both within academia and within public benefit institutions such as libraries, museums, and arts agencies; and many maintain dual appointments. In this volume, the works of New York’s academic and public folklorists are presented together, since the two trunks of our discipline’s growth are closely intertwined...”

—Elizabeth Tucker.

READ more about the NYS Folklife Reader here.

Tucker and McHale’s introduction and Tucker’s framing essay on the “dynamics of New York’s folk culture,” examined here through both “folk and historical memory,” provide a summary of the influence of the state’s folklore scholarship, long history of applied folklore, and its folklorists’ impact on public policy, educational practices, and the fields of folk song, music, literature, and humanities, not only in New York but nationally and internationally as well.... In the spirit of Ben Botkin, who, Murray notes, “understood that modernity was not a threat to traditional culture but rather an important influence on existing and emerging folk expressions” (30–31), this compilation offers opportunities for insight, and for making connections across genres, to anyone interested in the reality of studying, documenting, and sharing folk culture—and perhaps it will inspire the creation of other regional folklife readers.

[From review by Susan Eleuterio, Independent Folklorist, Highland, Indiana, in Western Folklore 74(1), Winter 2015.]

READ the Review in CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries (Vol. 51, No. 7, March, 2014)

Working with Folk MaterialsWorking with Folk Materials in New York State: A Manual for Folklorists and Archivists, John Suter, ed. (New York Folklore Society, 1994).

Responding to the needs of the field, the New York Folklore Society worked closely with archivists to produce this manual outlining the preferred methods of arranging and describing the materials, as well as to match endangered collections with proper repositories. This 200-page manual is designed to: introduce folklorists and archivists to each others’ purposes, methods, and concerns; make the work of collecting and documenting folk culture easier and more productive; and encourage documentary practices and archival treatment that will facilitate the care of folklore materials in secure and accessible archives. Produced in an attractive looseleaf binder, the manual includes chapters that introduce the reader to the fundamentals of folklore and archives, clarify terms and concepts that may cause confusion when folklorists and archivists meet, and provide guidance in the management of folklife materials. It also includes glossaries and terms for both disciplines, lists of organizational resources, and sample collecting forms, release forms, and contracts.

Working with Folk Materials in New York State won the Brenda McCallum Prize from the Archives and Libraries Section of the American Folklore Society in 1995 “for exceptional work dealing with folklife archives or the collection, organization, and management of folklife materials.”

Folklore in ArchivesFolklore in Archives: A Guide to Describing Folklore and Folklife Materials, by James Corsaro and Karen Taussig-Lux (New York Folklore Society, 1998).

Winner of the Brenda McCallum Prize from the Archives and Libraries Section of the American Folklore Society in 1999

Folklore in Archives is the essential tool for the archivist who must arrange and describe folklore collections. It is the companion piece and sequel to Working with Folk Materials in New York State: A Manual for Folklorists and Archivists. It is designed for not only for archivists, but also librarians, curators, or collections managers—for anyone responsible for arranging, describing, or caring for folklore collections or other collections that contain folklore materials. It is an essential tool also for folklorists or other cultural specialists or a community members who have folklore materials and want to work with archivists to ensure the preservation and accessibility of the collections.

“A large and growing body of folklore collections will come under archival care in the next several decades. Folklore materials present unique challenges to archivists seeking to incorporate them into archival repositories and databases. This book describes the issues involved in archival management of folklore materials and offers guidelines to assist archivists and others who care for such collections.”—From the Introduction.

Folklore in Archives contains the following main sections:
  • What are Folklore and Folklife?
  • Archival Issues Related to Folklore Materials
  • Negotiating Donations and Transferring Records
  • Arranging Folklore Collections
  • Describing Folklore Collections
  • Cataloging Rules for Folklore Materials
  • Glossaries of folklore and archives
Self-Management for Folk ArtistsSelf-Management for Folk Artists: A Guide for Traditional Artists and Performers in New York by Patricia Atkinson Wells (New York Folklore Society, 1999).

Self-Management for Folk Artists is designed to assist traditional artists in managing and marketing themselves. You’ll find information here on
  • Writing biographical materials
  • Assembling a press kit
  • Starting a business
  • Expanding your audience
  • Resources and contacts
This 148-page manual, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York City; Traditional Arts of Upstate New York in Canton, New York; RCCA: The Arts Center in Troy, New York; and Arts for Greater Rochester, New York. Chapter titles are:
  • Introduction
  • Creating Promotional Materials
  • Events
  • Starting Your Own Business
  • Expanding Your Activities
  • Resources and Contacts
  • Select Bibliography
  • Sample Documents
  • Credits and Acknowledgments
  • Training Guide
Hungarian Cuisine and Personal Memories

Hungarian Cuisine and Personal Memories: Everything from Budget Cooking to Elegant Dining by Eniko Tarnói Farkas (1998).

Eniko’s cookbook features a collection of succulent recipes learned from her mother, interwoven with recollections of her daily life from her youth in Hungary where she was born. Eniko writes, “How we cook and what we like are very closely related to family history and traditions. Food traditions are things that we inherit and carry out with vehemence. Sometimes nationality and religion disappear but not the upkeep of family food traditions. I found this out when I was collecting information from second and third generation Hungarian immigrants to the Ithaca area. Even if the language was long forgotten and there were no other ties to Hungary, the food traditions and recipes lived on. Hungarians very jealously guard their recipes and if a Hungarian trusts you with her secret recipe you can trust her with your life...” Eniko shares her recipes here for traditional Chicken Paprikash and Hungarian Goulash, as well as sour cherry soup, stuffed onions, egg dumplings, veal fricasee, pig feet jelly, puff pastry and strudel recipes, walnut crescents, and more.
isleIsland Sounds in the Global City: Caribbean Popular Music and Identity in New York by Ray Allen and Lois Wilcken, eds. (New York Folklore Society and the Institute for Studies in American Music, Brooklyn College).

Distributed by University of Illinois Press, Island Sounds is a collection of case studies by top scholars that chronicle the richness of musical activity within the Puerto Rican, Dominican, Trinidadian, and Haitian communities of New York City. The authors are Ray Allen, Paul Austerlitz, Gage Averill, Juan Flores, Ruth Glasser, Donald Hill, Philip Kasinitz, Peter Manuel, Les Slater, and Lois Wilcken.

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