Guide to Folktales, Myths, Legends, and the People Who Study Them

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Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother illustrated by Oliver Herford

Guide to Folktales, Myths, Legends, and the People Who Study Them

Pathfinder Project by Sara Porter

Reference S501 – Professor Jingfeng Xia


Your Quest Begins: Introduction…………………………………………… 3

Magic Words: Important Definitions to Know……………………. 4

Seeking the Right Path? Here’s Where to Look……… 5-12

Library Catalog……….. 5-8

Search Engine………….8-10


The Helpers: Important Information……………. 13-20




Journal Articles……..18-20

The Journey’s End or Beginning: Alternate Sources……………21-22


Your Quest Begins

Imagine this scenario: You are in the library when your eyes fall on a book of folktales. You read

through a couple of stories out of curiosity, perhaps with the wide-eyed interest that you had

when you were a child and someone read them to you for the first time. Reading them with

adult eyes you start to notice patterns: comparisons with other tales you have heard, maybe

you have noticed characters that remind you of characters from your favorite movies or TV

shows, perhaps you have a literary interpretation to a story, or you may want to find other tales

like it.

This pathfinder explores different variations and interpretations from folktales from around the

world, as well as how and where to find them. This pathfinder is written for an academic level

for undergraduate and graduate students of Indiana University who are interested in reading

and learning more about folklore, perhaps folklore, anthropological, or literature students.


Magic Words: Important Definitions to Know (all definitions provided by Merriam-Webster)

Folklore - Traditional customs, sayings, dances, or art forms, preserved among a people.

(Though folklore covers a wide expanse including, stories, music, art, dance, costume- this

pathfinder is limited only to include folktales). One who studies these traditions is a folklorist.

Folktales- A characteristically anonymous, timeless, and placeless tale circulated orally among

a people. Many myths, legends, and fairy tales could be considered folk tales.

Myths- A usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of

the events that serve to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief,

or natural phenomenon. Examples might be the “Rape of Persephone” (to explain the seasons),

“Coyote Brings Fire” (to explain how fire was created), or many of the creation myths.

Fairy Tales- a story that has been collected that involves fantastic forces and beings such

as fairies, witches, goblins, etc. Usually, but not always the improbable events lead to a happy

ending. Examples include “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and the

“Cinderella” variations.

Legends- a story from the past, which is regarded as historical though not verifiable. They are

Usually they have more recent origins than many of the fairy tales and myths. Examples

Include: the stories of Jesse James, many ghost stories, and urban legends.

Archetype-An inherited idea, originated by Carl Jung, that other models are patterned after.

Archetypes include The Hero, The Trickster, or The Wise Woman and Man.

Pantheon- A study of the gods, goddesses and figures of a specific culture for example: Greek,

Celtic or Japanese pantheons.

c:\documents and settings\administrator\my documents\my pictures\180px-lorenzo_costa_001.jpg

The Argo painted by Lorenzo Costa

Seeking the Right Path? Here is Where to Look:

To begin any search one must always know where to find such items. There are three places where any

item can be found, a library catalog, a search engine, and a database. ( All instructions will be bold)

Library Catalog- Anyone can use a public access catalog to find books, articles, information

on anything that they need. There are many catalogs, so I will use one as an example:

iucatlogo.gif - This is the online catalog for Indiana University’s libraries. It is

connected to the various colleges and schools in the IU System. Searching this site is very easy:

Log on using your student name and password. Login

  1. A search engine will appear. There are two very popular searches. The first is Basic:

Basic Search TIPS

Top of Form





Bottom of Form

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

The second is Advanced Keyword.

Bottom of Form

Since we have more details on Advanced Keyword, we will choose this.

  1. In selecting “Tales” as a subject, I selected “books” as my format and

IUPUI-University Library” as my location:

Advanced Keyword Search TIPS

Top of Form










sort by:

(ONLY works for 999 or fewer entries)



publication year:

(1981, 1965-1970, >1970, <2000)




Bottom of Form

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

More IUCAT Searches

Basic Search Periodical Title Search DVD/Video Search Sound Recording Search E-book Search (Beta) Class Reserves Call Number Search Begins With (Browse)

Top of Form
Bottom of Form

  1. The search results found 256 that were in the folktales category- The most prominent

books on folktales are usually found in the GR category which is the folklore category in

Geography subject.

subject "Tales" search found 910 titles.
256 were in the "GR Folklore" category.
[return to full results]

Pages << 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 >>


  1. #1 mark


    Cinderella in America : a book of folk and fairy tales  1st ed.
      McCarthy, William Bernard, 1939-
      Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2007.

    copy available at Blmgtn - Herman B Wells Library (B-WELLS) in Wells Library - Research Coll. - Folklore Collection Copies on order


  2. #2 mark


    Tales of the golden corpse : Tibetan folk tales
      Benson, Sandra.
      Northampton, Mass. : Interlink Books, 2007.

    copy available at Indpls - IUPUI University Library (I-UNIVLIB) in Stacks


#3 mark


4. To further minimize your search options, check the sidebar which includes limiting

selections by subject, by pantheon, or by any other means to minimize your search:

source: Limit Your Search Results to the Following Categories

PS American literature PZ Children's literature PR English literature GR Folklore PT German, Dutch, Flemish, Scandinavian literature DA Great Britain: History E History: America & United States Z Library science. Information resources. Bibliography PN Literary history. Collections. Quotations GT Manners & customs B Philosophy (General) BL Religions. Mythology PQ Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish literature LB Theory & practice of education DA Europe More categories

Try these too...

Folk literature Allegories. Beauty and the beast (Tale) Cinderella (Tale) Cupid and Psyche (Tale) Fables. Fairy tales. Frame-stories. Grateful dead (Tale) Green Man (Tale) Lays Legends. Little Red Riding Hood (Tale) Maiden Tsar (Tale) Oedipus (Tale) Parables. Tall tales. Taming of the Shrew (Tale) Two Brothers (Tale)

more information: Here are entered collections of stories in prose, especially traditional, popular tales of uncertain origin, such as legends, fables, etc.

Search Engines- Another way of searching for something is by looking for it through a Search

Engine. There are many popular and prominent search engines but I am going to use one,

actually a meta-search engine which searches multiple search engines for a source:

_iceurlflag=15.gif - Dogpile searches various engines like Google, Yahoo, and

to provide the information that we need.

  1. In using the Advanced search I selected folktales and included the words “myths,

legends, and fairy tales” but excluded “children’s books.”


All of these words:

Any of these words:

None of these words:


  Include Domain   Exclude Domain

  1. The search resulted in 20 results. Here are the first five:

Open Directory - Arts: Literature: Myths and Folktales

Fables@ (38); Fairy Tales@ (314); Folktales@ (641). Legends@ (100); Myths ... Kids and Teens: School Time: English: Literature: Myths and Folktales (31) ... • Found on Google

Education World® : Lesson Planning Channel : Lesson Plans ...

Use library or Internet sources to select folktales, legends, and myths from different Native American cultures. Here are three sites to help you start your ... • Found on Google

Myths, Folktales and Fairy Tales

... cultures across the globe as you read myths from the world regions listed here. ... Myths, Folktales and Fairy Tales home ? Myth Writing with Jane Yolen ... • Found on Google

Fairy Gifts: Folktales of Type 503

Return to folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, ...... Source: F. Hadland Davis, Myths and Legends of Japan (London: G. G. Harrap and ... • Found on Google

Google Directory - Arts > Literature > Myths and Folktales

Fables (42) Fairy Tales (365), Folktales (764) Legends (136), Myths (497) ... Kids and Teens > School Time > English > Literature > Myths and Folktales (34) ... • Found on Google

  1. There are also other options to look for to help increase or minimize a search on the sidebar:

  2. Recent Searches View Hide

  3. top scary places to vi...

  4. Myths Legends

  5. Folktales

  6. Folktales Legends, Myt...

  7. Clear All

  8. Your most recent searches can be viewed here.


Databases contain journal articles on various subjects. A lot of databases can be found by

viewing the IU Library Article Database . They often require a subscription but looking at it

through the IU network lets the students view the material for free. There are many databases

that feature folklore and literature articles prominently. We will focus on a specific database as

an example:

logo2008.gif - This database managed by Johns Hopkins University Press

collaborates between libraries and publishers to present over 300 humanities, arts, and science


  1. There are two major search options “Article Search” and “Browse Journals”. I may

have a better chance of selecting specific articles from folklore journals, so I selected


  • full accessAdvertising & Society Review (Vol. 1 (2000) through current issue)

  • full accessAfrica: The Journal of the International African Institute (Vol. 76 (2006) through current issue)

  • full accessAfrica Today (Vol. 46 (1999) through current issue)

  • full accessAfrican Studies Review (Vol. 48 (2005) through current issue)

  • full accessAleph: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism (Vol. 4 (2004) through current issue)

  • full accessAmerican Annals of the Deaf (Vol. 148 (2003) through current issue)

  • full accessAmerican Imago (Vol. 52 (1995) through current issue)

  • full accessThe American Indian Quarterly (Vol. 24, no. 3 (2000) through current issue)

  • full accessAmerican Jewish History (Vol. 84 (1996) through current issue)

  • full accessThe American Journal of Bioethics (Vol. 1 (2001) - vol. 4, no. 2 (2004); archive only)

  • full accessAmerican Journal of Mathematics (Vol. 118 (1996) through current issue)

  • full accessAmerican Journal of Philology (Vol. 117 (1996) through current issue)

  • full accessAmerican Literary History (Vol. 12 (2000) through current issue)

  • full accessAmerican Literary Realism (Vol. 40 (2007) through current issue) NEW

  • full accessAmerican Literary Scholarship (1998 through current year)

  • full accessAmerican Literature (Vol. 71, no. 3 (1999) - vol. 76 (2004); archive only)

  • full accessAmerican Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography (Vol. 13 (2003) through current issue)

  1. After selecting journal I selected only journals that are about folklore by going

Through the “journals by discipline” option on the sidebar:


  • full accessBuildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (Vol. 14 (2007) through current issue)

  • full accessJournal of American Folklore (Vol. 114, no. 451 (2001) through current issue)

  • full accessJournal of Folklore Research (Vol. 40 (2003) through current issue)

  • full accessMarvels & Tales (Vol. 15 (2001) through current issue)

  • full accessOral Tradition (Vol. 18 (2003) through current
  1. I then selected a specific journal looking at its description and issues:

Journal of Folklore Research

Volume 45, Number 2, May-August 2008

E-ISSN: 1543-0413 Print ISSN: 0737-7037


  • Indiana University Press


Vol. 40 (2003) through current issue


The Journal of Folklore Research has provided an international forum for current theory and research among scholars of traditional culture since 1964. Each issue includes topical, incisive articles of current theoretical interest to folklore and ethnomusicology as international disciplines, as well as essays that address the fieldwork experience and the intellectual history of folklore and ethnomusicology studies. Contributors include scholars and professionals in additional fields, including anthropology, area studies, communication, cultural studies, history, linguistics, literature, performance studies, religion, and semiotics.


  • Volume 45, Number 2, May-August 2008

Previous Issues:

  • Volume 45, Number 1, January-April 2008

  • Volume 44, Number 2-3, May-December 2007

  • Volume 44, Number 1, January-April 2007

  • Volume 43, Number 3, September-December 2006

  • Volume 43, Number 2, May-August 2006

  • Volume 43, Number 1, January-April 2006

  • Volume 42, Number 3, September-December 2005

  • Volume 42, Number 2, May-August 2005

  • Volume 42, Number 1, January-April 2005

  • Volume 41, Number 2, May-August 2004

  • Volume 41, Number 1, January-April 2004

  • Volume 40, Number 3, September-December 2003

  • Volume 40, Number 2, May-August 2003

  • Volume 40, Number 1, January-April 2003

  1. In clicking on the most recent issue, I found its table of contents which includes

options to read the articles in HTML or PDF formats.


A totem or guide post in Totem Park, Victoria, B.C. Canada

The Helpers: As with any folktale, you will encounter many helpers to guide you along your

path. These sources were selected because they are created by experts in studying and

retelling folklore and present some very intriguing insights on the various pantheons.

Websites: These websites were chosen for their expert opinion and because they recount various

pantheons and folklore studies.

headera.jpg- This website retells various American myths, tall tales, legends, and

ghost stories offering some very interesting insights into American lore. The site takes on

various themes such as ghost stories available for Halloween.

afs-banner.jpg- An association that studies and

communicates knowledge of folklore throughout the world. This website contains various articles, news

events and information about folklore.

header.gif– A website that details mythologies from six regions;

Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Oceania. The sections are arranged in

encyclopedia form by characters, locations, and themes.

Folktexts: Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts-A fun website that

chronicles various folktales from around the world by subject, character, or genre. The

subjects include “Abducted by Aliens” (actually fairies, elves, and the like), and “Incest

in Indo-European Folktales.”

snopes_02.gif- A noted website to recount, prove, and sometimes

disprove the most recent forms of folklore: the urban legend. It’s good so a friend of a

friend of mine told me.

Books-These books take the perspective of different folklore pantheons. All of them are

available on IU Cat and are linked to their IU cat page.

index.gifCampbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Commemorative ed. Princeton, NJ:

Princeton University Press. 2004- Noted folklorist and professor, Campbell explores the

hero myth found in various telling from literature, legend, and modern film.

04af224b9da0f9e0a822c010__aa240__l.jpgCavendish, Richard. Legends of the World 1st. ed. /Edited by Richard Cavendish

with illustrations by Eric Fraser. New York: Schocken. 1982. - This book chronicles legends from

around the world including Asia, Africa, and North and South American myths and


Dundes, Alan. Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies . London: New

York; Routledge 2005. – This is an academic study which features a comprehensive

Collection of folktales and their theories and meaning.

514cd2pejdl__sl160_aa115_.jpgGarry, Jane and Hassan El-Shamay. Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature: A Handbook.

Amonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. 2005. –This book explores the common

archetypes and motifs found in folklore. Among them are Transformation myths, Quest

stories and Wise Men and Women figures.

index.gifMercante, Anthony S. Facts on File Encyclopedia of Myth and World Legends. 2nd ed.

New York: Facts on File 2004. – Arranged, in encyclopedia form this book retells various

myths, legends, and characters that can be found.

5104cyv2bgl__sl160_pisitb-dp-arrow,topright,21,-23_sh30_ou01_aa115_.jpgRosenberg, Donna. Folklore, Myths, and Legends: A World’s Perspective.

Lincolnwood, Ill.: NTC Publishing Group, c1997. - This is a collection of folklore and legends from

around the world with historical and contextual references. The stories include creation

myths, Anansi trickster tales, Hero tales like Finn MacChumail, and legends like Rip Van Winkle.

Journals- These journals present the best academic research on folktales. The articles can be accessed

through either their websites or by database.

jafcover.jpgJournal of American Folklore- This is the official Journal of The American Folklore Society.

Published quarterly, the journal features articles, essays, notes, and commentaries

based on themes. Though seen online through subscription only, the articles can be

accessed through Project Muse and found in local libraries.

jfrcoversmall.gifJournal of Folklore Research- This is published by the Department of Folklore and

Ethnomusicology for Indiana University, This takes theoretical and comparative studies

on the many aspects of folklore, folk life, and ethno musical studies. The articles are

available through the Social Sciences and Humanities Index, Historical Abstracts, and

America: History and Life.


. Marvels and Tales- This journal is published by The Wayne State University Press.

It features retellings and analysis of folk and fairy tales. Special issues feature a specific

topic such as “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Arabian Nights”, and “Fairy Tale Liberation.”

The articles are available through Project Muse.

Newfolk: New Directions in Folklore – This electronic journal features abstract and full-

text articles which analyze folklore in terms of post-modern literature, popular culture,

and reflexivity. Each journal features different topics such as one on Military Folklore. The

articles are available through their site.

phoenixcoin.gifWestern Folklore- The journal from The Western States Folklore Society deals with

the description and analysis of regional, international, and national customs. Published

quarterly, the articles are available through EBSCO or JSTOR


Journal Articles- There are many journal articles on folklore, over a billion

in fact. These particular articles were chosen because they reflected various styles of literary criticism in

folktales: religious, post-modernist, Marxist, feminist, structuralism or genre, and psychological


jfrcoversmall.gifIngemark, Camilla Apslund. “The Chronotope of Enchantment”. Journal of Folklore

Research. Vol. 43.

No. 1. 2006. 1-30. Reprinted courtesy of Project Muse. - This article explores how magic and the bending

Of time causes fairy tale protagonists to see the physical and metaphysical world differently in a

spiritual perspective.

cover.gifJorgensen, Jenna. “A Wave of the Magic Wand: Fairy Godmothers in Contemporary American Media.”

Marvels and Tales. Vol. 21 no. 2. 2007. Reprinted courtesy of Project Muse. –This article explores the

post-modern interpretations of The Fairy Godmother character particularly in Mercedes Lackey’s novel

The Fairy Godmother and in the movie, Shrek 2.

jafcover.jpgLau, Kimberly J. “Serial Logic: Folklore and Difference in the Age of Feel-Good Multiculturalism.”

The Journal of American Folklore. Vol. 113. No. 447. Winter, 2000. pp70-82. Reprinted courtesy of

JSTOR. - This article explains the serialization and telling of multicultural stories to appeal to a wider

audience and the consumerist need to buy these serials.

afs_old_cover.jpgMills, Margaret A. “The Gender of the Trick: Female Tricksters and their Male Narrators.”

Asian Folklore Studies. Vol. 60 no. 2. 2001. Pp237-258. Reprinted courtesy of JSTOR- This article

interprets the actions of female characters in Asian folktales, particularly “The Vizier’s Daughter” and

“Naijari (A Carpenter)” as variations of the Trickster archetype.

phoenixcoin.gifSomoff, Victoria. “.”On the Metahistorical Roots of the Fairy Tale. Western Folklore.

Vol. 61. No. 3/4. Autumn, 2002. pp277-293.Reprinted courtesy of JSTOR – This article takes a structural

approach to defining the fairy tale genre by analyzing such stories as “The Sea Tzar and the Wise

Vasilisa” and “The Flower of the World.”

jafcover.jpgTucker, Elizabeth. “Ghosts in the Mirror: Reflections of the Self.” Journal of

American Folklore. Vol. 118.No. 468. Spring, 2005. Pp 186-203. Reprinted courtesy of Project Muse. –

This article interprets the Jungian and psychological archetype of the shadow self in the children’s

“mirror-horror” stories like Bloody Mary.


Sir Galahad seeking the Holy Grail by George Frederick Watts

The Journey’s End or Beginning: Alternate Sources to Try

If you are curious to learn more about folktales, there are other avenues to try:

  • Attend a storytelling event. Folktales, legends, and the like were meant to told orally. If

you want to hear stories told out lout check out the newspaper or the Internet for a

local festival or event. One of the largest is the Hoosier Storytelling Festival sponsored

by the Storytelling Arts of Indiana

  • Join a Message Board or an online group. If you hear of a legend or a story that you

want to share with people on the Net , joining a message board is a good way to share

your interest. Some of these message boards or online groups include:

Urban Legends Reference Pages Message Board ,

Folklore, Legends, and Family Stories

National and International Folklore Organizations-provides links to various

organizations and groups

  • Study a specific pantheon- There are many different pantheons to explore. If you are

Interested in reading about a specific one, this list provided by is meant to

provide you with a start:

    • Arab folklore

    • Alpine (Austrian and Swiss) folklore

    • American folklore

    • Australian folklore

    • Brazilian folklore

    • Caribbean folklore

    • Catalan folklore

    • Colombian folklore

    • Croatian folklore

    • Chinese folklore

    • English folklore

    • Estonian folklore

    • Dutch folklore

    • Finnish folklore

    • French folklore

    • Germanic folklore

    • German folklore

    • Hungarian folklore

    • Indian folklore

    • Iranian folklore

    • Irish folklore

    • Italian folklore

    • Jewish folklore, which incorporates the Aggadah

    • Japanese folklore

    • Korean folklore

    • Kosovar folklore

    • Latin American folklore

    • Lithuanian folklore

    • Laz folklore

    • Montenegrin folklore

    • Norse folklore

    • Norwegian folklore

    • Pakistani folklore

    • Philippine folklore

    • Polish folklore

    • Portuguese folklore

    • Romanian folklore

    • Russian folklore

    • Scandinavian folklore

    • Scottish folklore

    • Serbian folklore

    • Slavic folklore

    • Swiss folklore

    • Turkish folklore

    • Venezuelan folklore

    • Welsh folklore


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