The Missouri Folklore Society:


Records of the society on deposit at the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, Ellis Library, University of Missouri Columbia:


Officers and Board of Directors
History of the Missouri Folklore Society



First adopted at the business meeting at 12:00 noon, July 17, 1977.
Dues changed at business meeting at 4:30 p.m., October 7, 1983.
Dues changed at business meeting at 4:00 p.m., October 27, 1989.
Artice II.2 amended at business meeting on October 27, 1991.
Dues changed at business meeting at 11:30 a.m., October 28, 1995.

I. Dues. As of October 28, 1995, the membership dues for the Missouri
Folklore Society shall be as follows:

Individual Membership $12.00
Family Membership $15.00
Student or Retired Person $5.00
Institutional membership $15.00
Sustaining Membership $35.00
Life Membership $150.00

II. Duties and Responsibilities of officers and committees.

1. The President shall chair a committee responsible for programs
and meetings.
2. The Executive Committee shall determine, each year, the time and
place of the annual meeting.
3. The Executive Committee may appoint from time to time, as
occasion arises, special officers or committees to foster research or other
activities in the different aspects of folklore and to direct the
publication of newsletters and a yearbook.

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(Approved June l6, l977)
(Amended October 26, 1991)

I. Purpose. The purpose of this Society is to encourage the collection,
preservation, and study of Folklore in the widest sense, including customs,
institutions, beliefs, signs, legends, language, literature, musical arts,
and folk arts and crafts of all ethnic groups throughout the State of
II. Officers. The officers of the Society shall be a President, one or
more Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Board of Directors of
no fewer than five members. The duties of the officers shall be the usual
duties of the respective offices. Additional Vice-Presidents may be
elected to provide regional representation. The Board of Directors, in
conjunction with the other officers, shall constitute an Executive
Committee, which shall meet at the Society's annual meeting to plan the
following annual meeting, decide upon affiliation with other organizations
and the establishment of local chapters, oversee fiscal matters, and
determine the place of deposit of manuscripts, books, and other
collections. The President may call a meeting of the Executive Committee
during the period of time between annual meetings, with prior notice of
three weeks, to conduct necessary business. Decisions of the Executive
Committee require a simple majority of the Officers and Board Members
attending the meeting at which votes are taken.
The President may appoint, with approval of the Executive
Committee, an Advisory Committee to serve during the term of office of the
President. The Advisory Committee, whose term of office shall end at the
time of the annual meeting following their appointment, shall consist of
officers and no more than six other members of the Society. The President
may call one or more meetings of the Advisory Committee during the period
of time between annual meetings, or may solicit advice by mail, when
necessary to make decisions on questions, issues, and requests that require
action but are not so urgent as to warrant an emergency meeting of the
Executive Committee. Decisions of the Advisory Committee require a simple
majority vote. Decisions and actions of the Advisory Committee shall be
reported and reviewed at the next meeting of the Executive Committee.
The officers shall be elected at the annual meeting to serve for
one year, except that the Board of Directors shall be elected to serve for
three years, approximately a third being elected each year. Initial
members of the Board shall be elected to specified one, two, or three year
terms. The President shall serve as Chair of the Executive Committee. All
members of the Missouri Folklore Society shall have the right of nominating
and voting for officers and Board members.
III. Membership. Membership is of six kinds: (l) regular, (2) family, (3)
students and retired persons, (4) sustaining, (5) life, and (6)
institutional (non-voting). The dues structure will be established in the
IV. Publications. The Society shall publish a Newsletter to apprise
members of plans and activities of the Society and shall include, when
possible, other news relating to folklore provided by members and friends.
A Missouri Folklore Journal will be published when appropriate research
material is available to warrant publication. All publications shall be
distributed to all members of the Society in good standing.
V. Meetings. An annual meeting shall be held for the reading of papers,
the election of officers, and such other business as may come before the
meeting. Additional meetings may be called by the President. A quorum
shall consist of those voting members present at a properly announced
business meeting.
VI. Changes in the Constitution. Written notice of any proposed change
must be submitted to the Secretary not less than two months prior to the
meeting at which the proposal is to be made. Not less than three weeks'
notice of any such proposal shall be given by the Secretary to the members.
Changes in this constitution may be made only at an annual meeting or at a
properly announced meeting for business. Change requires two-thirds
majority of voting members present.
VII. By-laws. By-laws may be adopted or changed by a simple majority vote
at a properly announced business meeting. Chapters of the Society may form
their own chapter by-laws.
VIII. Cooperation. It shall be the policy of the Missouri Folklore Society
to work in cooperation, wherever possible, with National, State, or other
societies of kindred aims and interests. Manuscripts and other matter of
permanent value may be deposited in the archives of such societies, or in
museums, at the discretion of the Executive Committee.
Local and regional clubs and societies interested in Missouri
Folklore may be affiliated with the Society upon the recommendation of the
Executive Committee. Local chapters may be established in the same way.

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Annual Meetings

1977 Columbia
1978 Columbia
1979 Springfield
1980 Rolla
1981 Columbia
1982 Warrensburg
1983 St. Louis
1984 Rolla
1985 Cape Girardeau
1986 Columbia
1987 Jefferson City
1988 St. Joseph
1989 Point Lookout
1990 Hannibal
1991 Flat River
1992 Hermann
1993 Kansas City
1994 Arrow Rock
1995 Trenton
1996 Columbia
1997 Stockton
1998 Hannibal
1999 Sikeston
2000 Fulton
2001 Kansas City
2002 Potosi/Trout Lodge
2003 Kirksville
2004 Cape Girardeau
2005 Springfield
2006 Centennial: Columbia
2007 Jefferson City
2008 Hannibal
2009 Boonville
2010 Neosho
2011 Potosi/Trout Lodge

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In 1903, at an English Club meeting at the University of Missouri, a student from Clinton County, Missouri, sang a version of a ballad that the faculty advisor recognized as a variant of one in Child's English and Scottish Ballads. When the students assured him that many such songs were still sung in Missouri, he enlisted their aid in collecting them. During the next three years, the English Club initiated a collection that their advisor, Henry Marvin Belden, continued for over three decades, and in 1940 he published Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society.

When the Missouri Folk-Lore Society was established in 1906 with Belden as Secretary, officers and members included residents from throughout the state, including Missouri's most prominent folklorist, Mary Alicia Owen of St. Joseph. The stated purpose of the new Society was the study of "Folk-Lore in the widest sense of the term, including customs, institutions, superstitions, signs, legends, language and literature of all races, so far as they are found in the State of Missouri," a statement echoing the advice Charles Godfrey Leland had given in an 1889 letter to Owen about her work among the Mesquakie Indians.
Owen was elected President of MFS in 1908, and in 1909, at the third annual meeting of the Society in Columbia, the 63 members included residents of Washington DC, Chicago, New York, and other states as well as Missouri. Publications by Belden and other MFS members in JAF and other journals brought national attention to the Society. At the request of L. W. Payne, who with John A. Lomax founded the Texas Folklore Society, Belden sent copies of several of the leaflets he and Miss Owen had prepared for MFS. A comparison of the constitution and early publications of the two societies shows many similarities, according to F. E. Abernethy, historian of the Texas Society.

It was not until 1913, at a meeting in St. Louis attended by George Lyman Kittredge, that the members of the Missouri Folk-Lore Society were persuaded to associate formally with the American Folklore Society, as other state societies were doing. Categories of membership were established distinguishing "professed folk-lorists" (those belonging to AFS) from "antiquarians and collectors who approach the subject from the point of view of state history or local history."

As attendance and membership declined, Belden suggested that MFS members meet with the Missouri State Teachers Association. Accordingly, MFS became a department of MSTA, and at the 1916 meeting in St. Louis there was a standing-room-only audience at the program and a large group at the "folklore supper." However, World War I and the flu epidemic weakened the Society, and its 1920 meeting in Kansas City was the last for many years to come.

Other collectors began working in Missouri. Vance Randolph collected in the Ozarks in the 1920s and 1930s. Joseph M. Carrière and Ward Dorrance gathered and published French folk tales and songs in Ste. Genevieve and the Old Mines community in the 1930s. In the late 1940s R. P. Christeson began recording old-time fiddle tunes in Missouri and other states. While a student at the University of Missouri, Loman Cansler discovered that songs in the Belden, Randolph, and Sandburg collections were still sung by his family and friends in Dallas County, so he too began collecting. In the 1950s Max Hunter, a Springfield businessman, started recording ballads and songs on trips around the Ozarks. The Carrière, Christeson, Cansler, and Hunter materials constitute major American collections.

In the 1970s others developed an interest in the collection and study of Missouri's folklore, including the Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts in St. Louis; Gordon McCann in Springfield; John W. Roberts, then a professor at the University of Missouri; Adolf E. Schroeder, who established a German Folklore Project in Missouri; and Cathy Barton, a folk musician and student at Stephens College. In response to the need for some means of bringing together the knowledge of these researchers, the Missouri Folklore Society was reactivated in 1977. Roberts was the first President and later served as Secretary, publishing in that capacity the 1979 Missouri Folklore Society Journal. In 1981 Donald Lance, who first became interested in the field in Texas, was elected Secretary and editor of publications, a position in which he continues to serve.

The 1980s brought a number of folklorists to the state-Erika Brady, John Foley, Elaine Lawless, Sandy Rikoon, Howard Marshall, Ray Brassieur, Dana Everts-Boehm, and Prahlad Folly-all welcome additions. In 1996, with Ray Brassier serving as president, MFS celebrated the 90th anniversary of its founding and the 20th anniversary of its reactivation. The work of the Society continues, with volunteers from every area of the state, some associated with academic institutions but many more who simply have an enduring interest in Missouri traditions. With a membership of around 350, the Society holds annual meetings, publishes an annual journal and quarterly newsletters, and awards prizes for student papers related to Missouri folklore. Future meetings will be in Hannibal (1998), Sikeston (1999), and Fulton (2000). Membership dues are $15 a year. For further information, contact Missouri Folklore Society, P. O. Box 1757, Columbia, MO 65205.

Rebecca B. Schroeder, MFS Archivist

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