The University of Wisconsin Press

Wisconsin / Folklore / Ethnic Studies

Wisconsin Folklore
Edited by James P. Leary

"A readable, diverse, informative, and well-chosen anthology of essays on Wisconsin folklore. . . . Leary is a gifted writer with interesting anecdotes, as well as thorough knowledge of American folklore scholarship."
—Jan Harold Brunvand, author of American Folklore

Highly entertaining and richly informative, Wisconsin Folklore offers the first comprehensive collection of writings about the surprisingly varied folklore of Wisconsin. Beginning with a historical introduction to Wisconsin's folklore and concluding with an up-to-date bibliography, this anthology offers more than fifty annotated and illustrated entries in five sections: "Terms and Talk," "Storytelling," "Music, Song, and Dance," "Beliefs and Customs," and "Material Traditions and Folklife."

The various contributors, from 1884 to 1997, are anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, historians, journalists, museologists, ordinary citizens reminiscing, sociologists, students, writers of fiction, practitioners of folklore, and folklorists. Their interests cover an enormous range of topics: from Woodland Indian place names and German dialect expressions to Welsh nicknames and the jargon of apple-pickers, brewers, and farmers; from Ho-Chunk and Ojibwa mythological tricksters and Paul Bunyan legends to stories of Polish strongmen and Ole and Lena jokes; from Menominee dances and Norwegian fiddling and polka music to African-American gospel groups and Hmong musicians; from faith healers and wedding and funeral customs to seasonal ethnic festivities and tavern amusements; and from spearing decoys and needlework to church dinners, sacred shrines, and the traditional work practices of commercial fishers, tobacco growers, and pickle packers.

For general readers, teachers, librarians, and scholars alike, Wisconsin Folklore exemplifies and illuminates Wisconsin's cultural traditions, and establishes the state's significant but long neglected contributions to American folklore.

James P. Leary, faculty associate in the Folklore Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is an award-winning Wisconsin folklorist and author of Midwestern Folk Humor; Down Home Dairyland; Minnesota Polka; and Yodeling in Dairyland: A History of Swiss Music in Wisconsin.


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cover of Wisconsin Folklore is yellow and green and covered with old photographs of various people.

January 1999
560 pp. 6 x 9
121 b/w illus.

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Paper $34.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-16034-0
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"Leary has pulled together, from a vast array of sources, probably the most complete cross-section of Wisconsin culture that I've seen."
—Thomas Vennum, Smithsonian Institution

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