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NYFS Newsletter 1998-vol19-no1-2-1
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Winter/Spring 1999 Newsletter

Meet the NYFS Board: David Quinn
Joined in 1990
Secretary/Treasurer since 1997

I’m not a folklorist. I’m a lawyer. There just weren’t enough jokes about folklorists to keep me satisfied. Nevertheless, I’m fairly fluent in the lingo of folklorists, having studied the subject at the Cooperstown Graduate Programs (1976-77) where I received an M.A. So, I guess you could say I’m "folklorish." Indeed, I’ve often opined that the line between law and folk culture is very thin’both are firmly grounded in precedent. After finishing my studies at Cooperstown, I worked for the Albany Institute of History and Art where I met my wife, Tammis Groft, who also studied folk culture at Cooperstown (1975-76), and who is now the museum’s chief curator. Among the "arterati" in the Albany area, I’m known as Mr. Tammis Groft.

As a member of the NYFS board, I represent what my colleagues call "folk culture enthusiasts." I firmly believe that NYFS must serve practicing folklorists by providing a forum for scholarly publications and discourse. Whether through the journal, conferences, or the mentoring and archive programs, NYFS has established itself as a premier resource for scholars in the field. However, it has also been my aim to increase the number of "folk culture enthusiasts" among our membership. Simply put, "folk culture enthusiasts" are consumers of folk culture research. The more "folk culture enthusiasts"—the larger the market for that research. Voices and NYFS’ placement on the Internet are two good examples of the Society’s first steps toward reaching this largely untapped group. I know that it’s heretical among the devout for me to suggest that a forum for "more stories—less talk" will make scholarly research accessible, marketable, and maybe even (God help us) profitable. Make no mistake, the market’s there.

In the for-what-it’s-worth column, I’ve not always dwelt in the ivory tower of academe. Although I’ve always relished learning, for a long time I believed that academic schooling was just that—academic. During the ten years it took to get a B.A. (ultimately, SUNY-Albany), I served stints of varying duration as a bartender, dishwasher, fruit-picker, timber-cruiser, punch-press operator, gaffer, and elevator-guy (I actually had to say, "third-floor, ladies’ shoes and accessories"). I was once in a film that Andy Warhol produced, and I’m told there’s a picture of me from the film in one of the old Interview magazines. In 1969, my induction into the army was defeated because I’m legally blind. I satisfied my highbrow curiosity by working for the Museum of Modern Art (bookstore) and the American Museum of Natural History (NYSCA internship). I can say that my life as a lawyer is more comfortable than it was during those years, but I can’t say it’s more interesting.

By the way, if you’re reading this and you’re not a member of the Society—well, buck-up, we’ve got great plans for members. Without your support, the Society sits in the dark.

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Photo of David Quinn
Hallee, Elias, and David Quinn. Photograph courtesy of David Quinn
David Quinn has served on the New York Folklore Society Board for seven years and recently replaced retiring board member Peter Vooheis as Secretary/Treasurer.

As a member of the NYFS Board, I represent what my colleagues call “folk culture enthusiasts.” I firmly believe that NYFS must serve practicing folklorists by providing a forum for scholarly publications and discourse...however, it has also been my aim to increase the number of “;folk culture enthusiasts” among our membership.

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