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Re: [sig] Folk Lore

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  • Marina
    Okay, I now have to delurk. I am an archivist and my concern here is that the memory of the 104 year old man isn t nearly as good as it was when he was 34.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 28, 2003
      Okay, I now have to delurk.

      I am an archivist and my concern here is that the memory of the 104 year old
      man isn't nearly as good as it was when he was 34. There is an assignment
      that was given in one of my classes regarding memory. Students were asked to
      recall and write down a significant event in their lives. The student was
      then required to contact a person who shared that event with them and read
      the memory. 98% of the time the person who shared the event remembered it
      differently. The point is this -- everyone's memory of an event cannot be
      taken as absolute truth with primary documentation from the period that is
      being "remembered" or "cited". Why even compare someone's memory to a
      Victorian fiction writer? Contemporary writers carry a certain authenticity
      because of their closeness to the event and haven't had time to romanticize
      (or forget important details) of their memory.

      I am not disputing the definitions of folklore.

      Oral histories are a valuable source but as pointed out in the above paragraph
      you have to take into consideration that memory is subjective. For example:
      My grandmother was born and raised in Canada in a strong Ukrainian area. My
      grandfather emigrated in the early 1920's. He was married before coming to
      Canada and left behind his children. My grandmother found out about this a
      few years after they were married. Before my grandfather passed away I tried
      to gather information from him about the family in the Ukraine. Other then
      wondering why I wanted the information (since the people I was asking about
      were dead) he gave me names and places. My grandmother participated in this
      conversation by correcting him. Her knowledge came from what she learned
      from him in the early years of their marriage (they were married 65 years at
      the time of my conversation with him). My grandfather was 89 at this time as
      well. His memory was very poor and my grandmother's contradictions were also

      All this is saying is that for the most part all we have are the written
      sources as being the valid pieces of documentation. We have to back up oral
      histories (and thus folklore) with primary sources. It is unfortunate that
      we cannot have oral histories stand alone.


      On 27/06/03 02:42 pm, Kinjal of Moravia wrote:
      > I am an accoplished research specialists and teach students how to
      > sift out 'chaff' in Internet postings. If I am writing a MAster's
      > Thesis I certainly want good documentation. Yet if you are studying
      > a culture and 'flavor' of a people or area, I question the attitude
      > that Folk Lore and verbal history is not a valid source.
      > In cooking, many cultures passed down recipies by telling stories.
      > Why is that when a 15th century scholar wrote down stories from the
      > 12th century it bacame 'documentable', but a verbal story is tossed
      > away? Actually, when I get a 104 year old man to get near a
      > computer and dictate an ancient family story, I will take its
      > validity over another source written by a Victorian fiction writer.
      > Look at the Bible. Verbal history finally written down, much lost.
      > Then mis-translated a number of times into modern form. Yet many
      > people use it to direct their lives. Yes, some of the 'folk lore'
      > events can be validated from other sources -- others cannot.
      > So, please show me a source where the author was the cook and
      > written in period, or let Folk Lore alone.
      > Kinjal
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