Why did you give to the AFS endowment campaign?
Jane Beck, founding director, Vermont Folklife Center, Ripton, Vermont: I discovered the field of folklore in college and pursued it academically in graduate school. For 45 years I have been actively engaged, particularly in the public sector realm of folklore, attempting to find new ways of giving the field visibility and furthering its reach. I have found it challenging, rewarding and sometimes discouraging, but I have never doubted that it has been the right road for me. Now at the end of my professional career, I would like to give back to the American Folklore Society for its support and nurturing of ideas, scholarship and public programming of the Folklore field.
Peggy Bulger, American Folklife Center, Washington, DC: I donated to the AFS endowment because AFS is the most important professional networking organization for the field of folklore and cultural heritage. It is important for AFS, which is now well over 100 years old, to continue into the future, providing the kind of leadership and collaborative opportunities that we enjoy today. The AFS annual meeting is the single most valuable gathering for me, as a professional, to re-establish links to my colleagues, to discover the latest in scholarship, and to cultivate new professionals who might join the staff of the American Folklife Center. The endowment is necessary to carry out the many projects and initiatives for the society.
Joe Goodwin, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana: In considering how to allocate my estate, my first thought was of AFS. My AFS family has supported me for 34 years. Anything I can do to honor them and our future “children” is my priority. The American Folklore Society has contributed so much to our culture, and has so much to contribute in the future, that I want to be part of that legacy. What we’ve done is often in the background, and I don’t mind remaining in the background, but I don’t want to be left out of pressing our work forward.
Lee Haring, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York, emeritus: I gave to the AFS endowment campaign out of a fifty-year-long connection to the Society, mainly out of a sense of gratitude for the learning, collegiality, and friendships it has brought me. Because I never went to “folklore school,” everything I know about the study of folklore has come to me from attending AFS meetings and following up what I heard there. Since I didn’t have to pay tuition, I’m glad now to make a little gesture of repayment.
Joyce Ice, West Virginia University, Morgantown: I contributed to the endowment because I am a life member of AFS and I feel it is important to give back to this professional organization to help sustain its viability for future generations. The AFS membership is dedicated to making a difference at the grassroots level, and to influencing the development of cultural policiesand voicing concerns about social justice issuesat the national level.
Barbara Lloyd, The Ohio State University, Columbus: In the last few years I’ve enjoyed the luxury of reflection–an opportunity to review the past rather than simply scurrying in the present or worrying about the future–and in this reflection the personal benefit of folklore study and of having folklorist colleagues has become even more significant to me. I can’t say whether folklore is a way of perceiving the world, or if those of us who perceive the world in a particular way have gathered together and labeled that perception as a field. But either way, being part of the Society’s endowment campaign is my way to help insure that like-minded people can continue to find one another and share the rich associations that membership in AFS makes possible.
Timothy Lloyd, American Folklore Society, Columbus, Ohio: The field of folklore has defined my professional identity, and a good deal of my personal identity, for more than 30 years. Attending my first AFS annual meeting in 1972 made the field, and the possibility of fruitful work in it as a profession, real to me. Since that time, the AFS has been the means for me to build a professional and personal network with colleagues and friends in our field, and the Society’s activities to strengthen and communicate the work of our field multiply the value of my personal work. I want future folklorists to have that same experience, and Barbara and I have made our gift to the endowment in order to leave the Society an even stronger and more capable organization than it was when we entered the field.
Patrick Mullen, The Ohio State University, Columbus: The American Folklore Society has been an important part of my life, and giving to the AFS endowment campaign was a way to assure that the Society continues to support folklorists in all their endeavors in the future. It would take too long to name all the ways that the Society has enriched my career–the journal, the meetings, the professional and personal relationships–but let me start at the beginning. My first meeting was in 1968 in Bloomington. I was fresh out of graduate school and in my first year of teaching, and I only knew a handful of people. I was sitting by myself in the lobby of the hotel the first or second night when a group of distinguished folklorists came through. I must have looked forlorn because Alan Dundes, whom I had never met, walked over and invited me to go to dinner with them–Dundes, Dell Hymes, I can’t remember everyone who was there, but I was in awe. Another night, there was a party at Richard Dorson’s house, and I met even more “FFs” (graduate student code for famous folklorist sightings years later). The folklorists I met at that meeting later helped me professionally by reading drafts of articles and writing letters of support for grant applications,but more importantly they became friends. I attended an MLA meeting in New York that same year and, not surprisingly, I didn’t meet any literary scholars that I didn’t already know. Bloomington was the beginning of a fulfilling 40-year association with the American Folklore Society. Donating to the AFS endowment is a small way of saying “thanks.”
Elliott Oring, California State University, Los Angeles, emeritus: I have spent forty years studying folklore. In that time I have presented numerous conference papers and have published books, essays, and reviews on folklore subjects. I give to the AFS Endowment because the AFS is the only organization that brings together the people who might care about what I have written and said over the years. I believe the AFS is the single folklore institution that will likely survive through this century. Without the AFS and the people who are drawn to the study of folklore through its meetings and journal, my own work would likely be forgotten. I give to an organization that will continue to formulate the questions and create the venues for engaging them that might keep my work relevant.
Susan Roach, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston: While I did give to the AFS Endowment after I was asked, I had already decided I wanted to contribute to it when I first heard about it. Today, organizations must plan financially for their future, and endowments can provide much-needed stability. I gave because it is timely and important for me to give back to the organization that has served me well for over 30 years. Having attended my first American Folklore Society annual meeting in 1972, I joined AFS in 1973 and have been a member since that time. Participating in the AFS annual meeting—an annual high point for me—has provided me with opportunities for continued professional growth and has kept me in touch with other folklorists, who are like family. Family members provide for their family; therefore I believe that it is essential that I support AFS to maintain its professional stature and continue to grow and address the pressing issues that concern our folklore family.
Polly Stewart, Salisbury State University, Salisbury, Maryland, emerita: I have been a member of AFS since 1970; it is my primary professional and scholarly organization. I can think of no better way to repay AFS for the decades of support it has provided me than to devote a part of my modest legacy to its ongoing stability. I hope other members of AFS will have the same thought.
Elaine Thatcher, Utah State University, Logan: I have made a bequest to the AFS endowment because I believe that the study of folklore is a crucial way to understand human beings and their cultures, and the American Folklore Society will help keep the field of folklore healthy. My work in folklore has been immensely rewarding, and I want to give something back. The study of folklore and the work of folklorists are important to me and, I believe, important to our society. I’m happy to help continue that work.