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Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society.

Dedicated to publishing the content of folklore in the words and images
of its creators and practitioners!



Voices logo

Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore features articles, stories, interviews, reminiscences, essays, folk poetry and music, photographs and artwork from people in all parts of New York State. Voices is the Society’s membership magazine. The magazine also publishes peer-reviewed, research-based articles, written in an accessible style, on topics related to traditional art and life, including ethnic culture. Join NYFS today to receive this new membership magazine!

Voices features articles, stories, interviews, reminiscences, essays, folk poetry and music, photographs, and artwork drawn from people in all parts of New York State, folklorists and non-folklorists alike. The magazine also publishes peer-reviewed, research-based articles, written in an accessible style, on topics related to traditional art and life, including ethnic culture. Informative columns on subjects such as legal issues, photography, sound and video recording, archiving, ethics, and the nature of traditional art and life appear on a regular basis.
Look inside ⇓
VOICES, Vol. 43, Fall–Winter 2017


What always strikes me about Voices is its clarity and openness, both in design and content. It’s inviting, lively, and readable and has plenty of variety. It presents artists and communities with respect and sensitivity, yet one learns too about what folklorists do and who they are. Voices gives a picture of New York State and its people that cannot be found elsewhere.
Anna Lomax Wood, Director, Association for Cultural Equity

LISTEN to New York Folklore Society’s executive director, Ellen McHale interviewed by Steve Black for his radio show, “Periodical Radio,” about Voices.
Download MP3

⇐LOOK INSIDE back issues of Voices

From the Fall–Winter 2017 issue of Voices:

My friend Jack Leadley died April 4, 2018. He was 90 years old. I’ve known Jack for some 30 years. We first met during my first survey of folk artists working in the Adirondacks.

Called “An Adirondack Legend,” Jack was a skilled woodsman, hunter, and trapper. He was also an artist, writer, and snowshoe and ski instructor. He made beautiful pack baskets and rustic furniture. He flew a plane, giving me my first aerial view of the Adirondack Park, saying how handy it was for a quick trip to Maine to catch up with family over a lobster dinner, and be back in time to sleep in his own bed by nightfall.

Jack’s love of the Adirondacks came early in life. In the 1930s his family drove up from Staten Island to spend summers in a rented cabin on Lake Pleasant in Speculator, New York. The mountain air helped his father’s asthma. After serving in the Second World War, Jack returned to the mountains permanently, marrying his wife Joan and joining a family with roots that traced back to 1794.

He opened Leadley’s Adirondack Sugarbush in 1949. He and his family tapped some 2500 maple trees each spring to make maple syrup to sell from the gift shop on Route 30, just north of Speculator. It is one of several buildings on the 115-acre Leadley compound, along with immediate family households, including those of Leadley’s three adult children who are eighth-generation Lake Pleasant natives.

Jack’s Adirondack pack baskets were second to none. He made them the old fashioned way, cutting black ash trees, usually in the spring when the bark peels off easily. He soaked and pounded every square inch of the log, causing the annual growth rings to loosen and separate. He then pulled the splints off the full length of the log. These he smoothed and cut into uniform strips, to create the raw material used to weave the basket.

Jack had carried a pack basket since the 1940s while running his traplines, and began to make his own when quality baskets were getting hard to find. He shared this knowledge wholeheartedly with anyone. He’s noted as a strong supportive influence of many basketmakers, and I’ve found his interviews as far away as Maine. For me, he breathed life into the old, discarded pack basket hanging in the garage of my childhood, owned by my stepfather, who, according to a family story, was carried in it by his own stepfather across a frozen Saranac Lake. Jack carried his own young son in a pack basket of his making while hiking the woods near their home.

Jack also made rustic furniture. He is known for reviving the Whitehouse chair, originally made by Lee Fountain, a local innkeeper in the late 19th century. The chair has birch framing with woven seats of black ash splints and was an early addition to the Folklife Center’s Folk Art & Artist Collection, available for view, along with his other work, on www.nyheritage.org.

A Hamilton County destination was the bark shanty that Jack built back in the woods of his family’s compound. These small cabins, now rare, were once commonly used by woodsmen, hunters, trappers, and fishermen in the backcountry of the Adirondacks. He called it Camp Balsam and dedicated it to the memory of those “Adirondack pioneers who came here before us.”

Its design was based on a shanty built by Jack’s wife’s great-grandfather, George Burton, at Little Moose Pond in the 1890s. His shanty was framed with poles and covered with sheets of peeled bark. The front door faced south to catch the winter sun, and the west wall had a window covered with deer rawhide, diffusing a warm amber light inside. A flat side of a granite boulder formed the north wall and the back of an open fire pit. Inside, smoke escaped through a small, covered wooden tower on the roof. The two pole beds lining the walls of the 8 by 10-foot cabin were filled with fresh balsam. He welcomed visitors, including a special road trip from Glens Falls, as a part of our kids’ workshop series on “Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties.”

Jack demonstrated his craft at our earliest Adirondack folk festivals and children’s workshop series. He enjoyed these visits with us and with other venues like Fort Klock, Hanford Mills, and the Adirondack Museum. As he became more sought after, he began to limit these activities, as he recalled in a letter: “You and Crandall Library have always been special as I started going away from my workshop to demonstrate my work.” But it was a twoedged sword. “Almost all my work is sold on order...I don’t need more ‘exposure’. Working alone with no power tools limits my production.” He came to prefer staying on his own property in the woods, allowing folks to come to him: “My workshop is so complete for my production, I do not leave it much...July and August, there are visitors here every day. I like to be here as people interested in my work are an added benefit to meet.”

What an incredible joy it was to share an afternoon with Jack in his own workshop back in the Hamilton County woods.

A mini pack basket made by Jack was gifted to my family at the birth of my first son. Jack’s own son Rick carries on his dad’s role of maker of traditional rustic furniture, and his daughter Lynn continues to make the pack baskets.

Jack was a kind-hearted man, so very talented and generous with his time and his knowledge. Indeed, he was an “Adirondack Legend.” What an honor to have known him. Fare thee well, my good friend.

Todd DeGarmo
Voices Acquisitions Editor
Founding Director of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library

The taxpayers are hollering, and the state’s contribution to this wonderful little magazine has been drastically cut. Those of us who read it all the way through have to all chip in.
—Pete Seeger, musician and activist, Beacon, New York

VISIT our online gallery bookstore to purchase back issues.


Meet Todd DeGarmo, Voices Acquisitions Editor
Todd DeGarmo

Todd DeGarmo is the acquisitions editor for Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, leading an editorial team which includes Ellen McHale as executive editor, Patricia Mason as copy editor, and Laurie Longfield as Voices’ manager. Todd took over this editorship from Dr. Eileen Condon who served as acquisitions editor from 2007–2012.

Todd is the founding director of the Center for Folklife, History and Cultural Programs at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Todd is a former board member and past president of the New York Folklore Society. He brings a wealth of knowledge and prior experience to the position of acquisitions editor, including a knowledge of Japanese culture, Adirondack studies, tourism, and architectural studies.

Send Your Story to Voices!
Did you know that Voices publishes creative writing, including creative fiction (such as short stories), creative nonfiction (such as memoirs and life/work stories), and poetry? We also publish artistic and ethnographic photography and artwork, in addition to research-based articles on New York State folk arts and artists. If you are one of New York’s traditional artists or working in a traditional occupation—including fishing, boat building, traditional healing, instrument making, firefighting, or nursing, to name a few—please consider sharing with our readers. For more information, see our Submissions Guidelines or contact the Acquisitions Editor at degarmo@crandalllibrary.org.

Check our submission guidelines for authors.

Send your letter to the editor here

Folklorists are writers. We write every day: monographs and scholarly articles, field notes, festival and event brochures, exhibit texts, grant applications, final reports, press releases, proposals. In fact, I would say that time spent writing is more than fifty percent of any folklorist’s annual cycle of work. The essentials of folklore—the ethnographic material—are fundamental to a great story. As any fieldworker can attest, entering into the personal experience of another individual is expansive and illuminating. The everyday becomes novel when viewed from the viewpoint of the uninitiated. The job of the folklorist is to translate that experience to those who may not get the opportunity to go through it themselves and to help the reader to find meaning in the experience.
Ellen McHale, PhD, Executive Director, NYFS

What is Folklife?
The everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation:

The traditional songs we sing, listen and dance to

Fairy tales, stories, ghost tales and personal histories

Riddles, proverbs, figures of speech, jokes and special ways of speaking

Our childhood games and rhymes

The way we celebrate life
  – from birthing our babies to honoring our dead

The entire range of our personal and collective beliefs
  – religious, medical, magical, and social

Our handed-down recipes and everyday mealtime traditions

The way we decorate our world
  – from patchwork patterns on our quilts to plastic flamingoes in our yards, to tattoos on our bodies

The crafts we create by hand
  – crocheted afghans, wooden spoons, cane bottoms on chairs

Patterns and traditions of work
  – from factory to office cubicle

The many creative ways we express ourselves as members of our family, our community, our geographical region, our ethnic group, our religious congregation, or our occupational group

Folklife is part of everyone’s life. It is as constant as a ballad, as changeable as fashion trends. It is as intimate as a lullaby, and as public as a parade.

In the end ... we are all folk.
American Folklife Center
Library of Congress, Washington, DC

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