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D. K. Wilgus Folklore Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BCA 0067 SAA 067

Scope and Contents

These are correspondence, ballads, songs, stories, sayings, and legends collected by folklorist D.K. Wilgus (1918-1989).

The Wilgus collection is an important resource for the continued study of many aspects of Kentucky Folklore. It includes material that Wilgus collected directly and via students while teaching at Western Kentucky State College (now University) 1950-1962. Also included are a sizable body of folksong, ballad, and other material that Wilgus obtained from such earlier folklore scholars as Josiah Combs, Herbert Halpert, and E.C. Parrow whose study of Kentucky folklore date to the turn of the nineteenth century.


  • created: 1918-1989
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1991


Conditions Governing Access

Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on use of this material other than federal copyright regulations.


42.00 boxes_(general)

Language of Materials



D.K. Wilgus was a native of Columbus, Ohio and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ohio State University (1941-1954). His Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898, remains the definitive overview of the history of folksong scholarship in America. Wilgus was the first to plead "hillbilly" music's case for academic respectability. He was a pioneer in the teaching of Anglo-American Folksong as a rigorous academic subject, in identifying the blues ballad as a separate folksong genre, and developing the "narrative theme" approach to ballad classification. Wilgus taught at Western Kentucky University (1950-1963), where he founded and edited the scholarly journal, Kentucky Folklore Record.

Method of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Eleanor-Long Wilgus in 1991.

Related Materials

Josiah Combs Collection, Berea College Special Collections and Archives

Bradley Kincaid Collection, Berea College Special Collections and Archives

Leonard Roberts Collection, Berea College Special Collections and Archives

D.K. Wilgus papers at the University of California Los Angeles

D.K. Wilgus papers at the University of North Carolina

Other Descriptive Information

BCA 0067 SAA 067

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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US