Accepted Paper:

The sum and its parts - exploring differing views on folklore in the early 20th century  


Lene Vinther Andersen (Royal Danish Library)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of the Danish Folklore Society was partly to record folklore for the Danish Folklore Archives in cooperation with the members and partly to publish folklore. This paper argue that the work on publishing and the work of collecting folklore reflect conflicting views on how to conduct folklore.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on participatory practices initiated by the Danish Folklore Society (Foreningen Danmarks Folkeminder). In the beginning of the 20th century, scholars at the Danish Folklore Society together with the archivists at the Danish Folklore Archives made an effort to engage the public in collecting folklore for the archives. They pointed out which subjects they valued, prepared relevant questions, and handed out preprinted inquiry forms in order to obtain standardized data for the archives. Ideally the aim was to collect, cleanse, segregate and file folklore material in the archives, and eventually return it to the people in printed series of ballads, folktales, legends, and other genres that roughly corresponded to the main categories of the archives.

At the same time, the Danish Folklore Society published some books that presented folkloric and ethnographic material in a different way compared to what had previously been seen. They did not focus on a single folklore genre but made connections between different elements of culture. People's everyday life and work, farms and garden, festivals, and oral traditions was described from an insider's point of view, as they were written by peasants who originated in the specific locality that they portrayed.

This paper will examine how the Danish Folklore Society tried to achieve the aims of collecting and publishing folklore, how the scholars tried to engage so-called ordinary people in both collecting and writing about folklore, and finally which differing views on folklore that emerged in these processes.

Panel Arch01
Participatory archives in a transforming world [SIEF Working Group on Archives] [P+R]