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Folklore & Mythology

Anthropology involves the scientific study of the origin and behavior of humans, including the development of societies and cultures. One of the aspects of human culture explored by anthropologists are the stories, beliefs, and dreams as represented in folklore and mythology. This guide is intended to help you get started with research in this area. The University Libraries are a vast store of information and we probably have whatever you need to complete your research - if not, we can get what you need through interlibrary loan. If you have questions or need assistance, ask for help at any reference desk.

Table of Contents:

Guides & Handbooks for the Study of Folklore & Myths - General Reference Works
Guides provide you with good overviews of the scholarship in a field and include good bibliographies to get you started in your research.
  • Folklore: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies
    Edited by Alan Dundes. London: Routledge, 2005. This four volume set provides a good collection of hard-to-otherwise-find texts that have been influential to the development of international folkloristics. The four volumes include: V. 1. From definition to discipline; V. 2. The founders of folklore; V. 3. The genres of folklore; V. 4. Folkloristics: theories and methods.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library GR45 .F65 2005 Regular Loan
  • Historical Atlas of World Mythology
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Folio BL311 .C26 1983 Regular Loan
  • Myth: A Handbook
    By William G. Doty. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004. One of the Greenwood folklore handbooks. This book provides a comprehensive and convenient introduction to the role of myth in world cultures. It defines and classifies types of myth and provides numerous examples of myths and their connection to contemporary life. It includes a good survey of the history mythological research and theoretical and critical approaches to the study. The bibliography includes both print and electronic resources.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library BL304 .D577 2004 Regular Loan
  • Mythologies
    "A restructured translation of Dictionnaire des mythologies et des religions des societes traditionnelles et du monde antique prepared under the direction of Wendy Doniger; translated by Gerald Honigsblum ... [et al.]. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. An important 2-volume collection of essays, arranged geographically.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library Reference BL311 .D513 1991 Non-Circulating
  • Mythology of All Races
    Louis Herbert Gray, editor; George Foot Moore, consulting editor. Boston: Marshall Jones company, 1916-1932. This 13-volume reference covers myths by culture or geographic region in each volume.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library Ames BL25 .M8 Regular Loan
    Wilson Library 303.8 M99 Regular Loan
    Wilson Library Reference BL25 .M8 Non-Circulating
  • Thematic Guide to World Mythology
    By Lorena Stookey. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library Reference BL312 .S76 2004 Non-Circulating
  • Working with Indigenous Knowledge: A Guide for Researchers
    By Louise Grenier. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1998. This guidebook zeros in on what indigenous knowledge can contribute to a sustainable development strategy that accounts for the potential of the local environment and the experience and wisdom of the indigenous population. Through an extensive review of field examples as well as current theory and practice, it provides a succinct yet comprehensive review of indigenous knowledge research and assessment.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library GN476 .G74x 1998 Regular Loan
Specialized Guides & Handbooks
The Libraries owns hundreds of guides and handbooks, many specific to cultures or societies, indexed in MNCAT. Here are just a few titles to get you started. For guides on your specific culture or literature, check MNCAT.
  • Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature: A Handbook
    Edited by Jane Garry and Hasan El-Shamy. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2005.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library GR72.56 .A73 2005 Regular Loan
  • Chicano Folklore: A Handbook
    By Maria Herrera-Sobek. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library GR111.M49 H47 2006 Regular Loan
  • Fairy Lore: A Handbook
    By D.L. Ashliman. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library GR549 .A85 2006 Regular Loan
  • German Folklore: A Handbook
    By James R. Dow. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library GR166 .D68 2006 Regular Loan
  • Greek and Roman Folklore: A Handbook
    By Graham Anderson. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library GR170 .A543 2006 Regular Loan
  • Handbook of Chinese Mythology
    By Lihui Yang and Deming An, with Jessica Anderson Turner. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2005.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library Quarto BL1825 .Y355 2005 Regular Loan
  • Handbook of Native American Mythology
    By Dawn E. Bastian and Judy K. Mitchell. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004.
    • Location(s): Wilson Library Quarto E98.R3 B26 2004 Regular Loan
  • Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs
    By John Lindow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Reference BL860 .L56 2002 Non-Circulating
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization [electronic resource] Authentication Required
    Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. "Online version provides a survey of the Greek and Roman worlds in all their aspects. Drawing on the latest edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary, the Companion offers articles on diverse fields such as, history and politics; ethics and morals; law and punishment; social and family life; language, literature, and art; religion and mythology; technology, science, and medicine."
Searching for Books & Texts
The University Libraries has over six million monographs in our collections - and through interlibrary loaning, we can provide you with the materials you need from around the world. Here are the best online book catalogs to start with.
  • Library Catalog
    Search with the Library Catalog to find books, journals, etc. owned by the library. Search by keyword, subject, title, or author for materials on your topic.
  • WorldCat Authentication Required
    Find books, journals, articles, maps, music scores, sound recordings, films, theses/dissertations, machine-readable data files, and any other materials available in libraries worldwide. This covers all subject areas. Request items through Interlibrary Loan using the ILLiad link on each item's record. WorldCat is produced by OCLC (Online Computer Library Center, Inc.)
Online Indexes & Databases
These scholarly databases provide keyword searching for articles and other materials in related scholarly fields. Read through the brief descriptions to pick the best databases for researching your topic.
  • America: History and Life Authentication Required
    This index provides historical coverage of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present with over 2,000 journals including all key English-language historical journals.
  • Annual Reviews Authentication Required
    This database allows for searching the full-text of all of the annual reviews published by Annual Reviews Inc. This includes annual reviews of Anthropology, Sociology and Psychology. This is an excellent way to check for recent trends in research, methods and theory.
  • Anthropological Index of the Royal Anthropological Institute
    The Libraries will no longer subscribe to this resource effective October 1, 2007. The contents of this database are now included in Anthropology Plus. Please use Anthropology Plus. The Anthropological Index Online is based on the journal holdings of The Anthropology Library at the The British Museum (Museum of Mankind) which receives periodicals in all branches of anthropology, from academic institutions and publishers around the world. During 2000 and early 2001 a retrospective conversion was undertaken which has added some 100,000 records going back to 1957. These were originally published on paper as vols 1-22 of the Anthropological Index. As part of this work we have modified the existing data to enable searching by the language of the article.
  • Anthropology Plus Authentication Required
    Anthropology Plus brings together into one resource the highly respected Anthropological Literature from Harvard University and Anthropological Index, Royal Anthropological Institute from the UK. Anthropology Plus provides extensive worldwide indexing of journal articles, reports, commentaries, edited works, and obituaries in the fields of social, cultural, physical, biological, and linguistic anthropology, ethnology, archaeology, folklore, material culture, and interdisciplinary studies. The index offers excellent coverage of all core periodicals in the field in addition to local and lesser-known journals. Coverage is from the late 19th century to the present.
  • AnthroSource Authentication Required
    Current and archival journals from the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Current coverage includes 15 of the AAA's most critical peer-reviewed publications; including American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, and Medical Anthropology Quarterly. The archive includes all AAA journals.
  • Art Full Text Authentication Required
    Art Full Text, produced by The HW Wilson Company, is a bibliographic database that indexes and abstracts articles from periodicals published throughout the world. There is full-text coverage for selected periodicals. Coverage includes English-language periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins, as well as periodicals published in French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, and Swedish. In addition to articles, Art Full Text indexes reproductions of works of art that appear in indexed periodicals. Indexing coverage begins 1984; abstracting coverage begins with January 1994. The abstracts range from 50 to 300 words and describe the content and scope of the source articles. Full-text coverage begins in 1997.
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index (Web of Science) Authentication Required
    AHCI covers arts, humanities, and area studies scholarship. Titles of foreign-language works are translated into English, and abstracts are given in English, thereby simplifying and standardizing searching across languages.
  • Communication and Mass Media Complete Authentication Required
    Find academic journal articles on topics in mass media, film, television, marketing, and communications in business, health, and other communication studies.
  • eHRAF World Cultures Authentication Required
    Contains FULL-TEXT information on over 360 cultures of the world, past and present. Electronic HRAF contains resources added since 1991 but earlier segments will be added to this database on a regular basis.
  • Humanities & Social Sciences Retrospective Authentication Required
    Humanities & Social Sciences Retrospective searches nearly 1200 of the most important journals in these subject areas. Updated, uniform subject headings facilitate your search, with the original subject headings also provided. The database covers the years 1907-1984.
  • IMB: International Medieval Bibliography Authentication Required
    The IMB is an interdisciplinary guide to the study of the Middle Ages, the period 476-1500. Geographic coverage extends across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, covering resources in over 25 languages. Note: The IMB provides downloadable software to view and print non-English diacritics and special characters.
    Also available in print in Wilson Reference D111 .I56x
  • JSTOR Authentication Required
    Find full text articles in academic journals or books on the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. JSTOR provides articles from the date of each journal's initial publication to recent issues. In some cases the latest several years may not be available.
  • MLA International Bibliography Authentication Required
    The MLA International Bibliography is a classified listing and subject index of scholarly books and articles on modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics which has been compiled by the Modern Language Association of America since 1926.
  • Philosopher's Index Authentication Required
    features author-written abstracts covering scholarly research published in journals and books, including contributions to anthologies and book reviews. More on content at
  • Sociological Abstracts Authentication Required
    This core database for the field of sociology contains information on sociology and social policy worldwide. Sociological Abstracts includes citations from the 1952-present.
Key Encyclopedia & Dictionaries
These reference tools help you get a good, quick overview of some topic, idea or theorist - which might be very useful as you do your research. Some are available online, some only in print. Read through the descriptions to find the best for your specific research.
  • African Folklore: An Encyclopedia
    Philip M. Peek and Kwesi Yankah, editors. New York: Routledge, 2004. Available online. Print copy: Wilson Library Reference Quarto GR350 .A33 2004
  • Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
    A site maintained by, this is the full-text of the 1898 edition of this classic tool for looking up the meaning and origin of phrases and fables. The text is browsable or easily searched by keywords.
  • Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore and Symbols
    By Gertrude Jobes. New York: Scarecrow Press, 1961-1962. A comprehensive two-volume work that includes a separate index volume. A bit dated, but still very useful resource.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Reference GR35 .J6 Non-Circulating
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Don't do it!: A Dictionary of the Forbidden
    By Philip Thody. London: Athlone Press, 1997. Dictionary includes five sections of definitions of Actions, Nourishment, Words and Themes, Ideas and Signs. Two essays provide an overview of the nature of the forbidden in society.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library GN494 .T48 1997b Regular Loan
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Encyclopedia Mythica
    Mythology, folklore and legend from around the world are covered in this searchable online encyclopedia. There are more than 6,000 article entries, 300 images, a pronunciation guide, and an assortment of genealogical tables (detailing the family trees of various gods and goddesses) and maps. Subjects include Arthurian legend; Greek, Roman, Asian, African, and Native American mythology; Egyptian and Mesopotamian mythology; Folklore; and Judaic mythology. For fun, check out the randomly generated questions in the MythQuiz.
  • Encyclopedia of Anthropology Online
    Edited by H. James Birx. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2007. A comprehensive, five-volume work with over 1,100 entries of original material written for this encyclopedia by educators and scholars in the natural and social sciences as well as philosophy. All articles are organized by keywords ranging from A to Z and an index. Entries cover the major areas of anthropology, as well as relevant topics in related disciplines, e.g., evolution, geology, paleontology, biology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and theology. Available online for full-text access to the contents. Also available in print in Wilson Reference.
  • Encyclopedia of folklore and literature
    Encyclopedia presents entries of authors and their writings, concepts, themes, and scholars to illustrate how the studies of folklore and literature have influenced one another. Each signed entry ends with a short bibliography. Includes cross references. To fully understand the scope of the encyclopedia, be sure to read the Introduction, pp. xxxi-xli.
    • Location(s): Wilson Reference Quarto PN41 E48 1998
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Encyclopedia of Religious Rites, Rituals, and Festivals
    Frank A. Salamone, editor. New York: Routledge, 2004.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Reference Quarto BL31 .E47 2004 Non-Circulating
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend
    By Anthony S. Mercatante ; revised by James R. Dow. 2nd, revised edition. New York: Facts on File, 2004.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Reference BL303 .M45 2004 Non-Circulating
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library Authentication Required
    This website from the reference publisher, Gale, allows you to search through the full-text of tens of key reference works and encyclopedia. A great way to start a research project! Online, it can be used anywhere at anytime!
  • Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Folklore & Folklife
    Edited by William M. Clements. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006. This 4-volume set seeks to "survey the world's folklore heritages in a way that emphasizes the international nature of folklore in general...while placing folklore within particular cultural milieus." Nearly 40 signed essays cover background and research issues and another 200+ main entries - arranged geographically by continent and region - cover the world. Each of the articles includes a bibliography and the indexes are usual for cross-cultural research.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Reference Quarto GR35 .G75 2006 Non-Circulating
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Mythology of the Americas: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gods, Spirits, and Sacred Places of North America, Mesoamerica and South America
    By David M. Jones and Brian L. Molyneaux. London: Lorenz Books, 2001.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Reference Quarto E59.R38 J66 2001 Regular Loan
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Oxford Reference Online Authentication Required
    Oxford Reference is an extensive general reference site containing many useful resources on mythology, including: A Dictionary of African Mythology, A Dictionary of Asian Mythology, A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology and A Dictionary of World Mythology.
  • Sage Knowledge Authentication Required
    Search all library subscriptions from Sage Publishing including scholarly monographs, reference works, handbooks, series, professional development titles, and more.
  • Shamanism : An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture
    This 2-volume encyclopedia, edited by Mariko Namba Walter and Eva Jane Neumann Fridman, provides a guide to worldwide shamanism, emphasizing historical and current cultural adaptations.
    • Location(s): TC Wilson Library Reference Quarto GN475.8 .S445 2004 Non-Circulating
    Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability
  • Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life (Online) Authentication Required
    Covers cultural groups in Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa. Each volume is organized by continent, covering history, politics, customs, religion, education, human rights issues, teen life, and more.
    • Location(s): earlier edition in print: WILSON Reference Quarto GN333 .W67 1998
Important Web Sites for the Study of Folklore & Mythology
This is not a comprehensive listing, but a good set of web sites to get you started on your research. Most include excellent sets of links to more web sites to help you find what you need.
  • American Folklore Society
    In addition to membership information, this organization offers the tables of contents to the Journal of American Folklore, a link to the American Folklife Center (Library of Congress) and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (Smithsonian), higher education programs in folklore, and a searchable database of folklore Web pages.
  • Archive of Folk Culture
    Part of the Library of Congress, the active "is America's first national archive of traditional life, and one of the oldest and largest of such repositories in the world." The site is searchable and browsable by topic, region, etc.
  • Art History Resources on the Web
    This site, maintained by Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe, Professor of Art History at Sweet Briar College, includes sections on art through the ages, beginning with the Paleolithic. Information includes: Study guides, maps, timelines, extensive image resources, bibliographies, and Virtual Museum Tours.
  • Classics Unveiled
    A site with four sections of information, largely taken from published works on classical Greece and Rome. "MythNET" covers Greek gods and heroes and includes genealogical tables. "Rome Unleashed" looks at Roman history and includes timelines and tables of various rulers. "Rome Exposed" looks at daily life in Rome and includes such issues as slavery, clothing, and food. "Latin Wordstock" provides a Latin-to-English dictionary. The site is searchable.
  • Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts
    Created and maintained by D. L. Ashliman of the University of Pittsburgh, this site provides an interesting by topic to the world's core folktales and myths. The site also provides a good set of links and a special emphasis section on Germanic myths, legends and sagas.
  • Folklore Society
    "The Folklore Society (FLS) was founded in 1878 and was one of the first organisations in the world devoted to the study of traditional culture. The term 'folklore' describes the overarching concept that holds together a number of aspects of vernacular culture and cultural traditions, and is also the name of the discipline which studies them. The Folklore Society's interest and expertise covers topics such as traditional music, song, dance and drama, narrative, arts and crafts, customs and belief. We are also interested in popular religion, traditional and regional food, folk medicine, children's folklore, traditional sayings, proverbs rhymes and jingles."
  • Indian Why Stories
    From the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia Library, this site provides 22 stories, transcribed by Frank B. Linderman in his 1915 book of the same title, including images of the original illustrations by Charles M. Russell are included.
  • Internet Sacred Text Archive
    This site consists of "significant primary texts relating to religion and mythology." Ancient texts include neolithic, Australian, Pacific, African, Ancient Near East, Greek and Roman, Northern European, Egyptian, Native American, and Modern Pagan. The Eastern section includes Shinto, Hinduism, I Ching, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. The Western section includes a hypertext Bible and other Christian texts, Judaism, Mormonism, Bahai'i, Islam, Zoroastrianism, esoteric, occult, and other religions.
  • Intute: Arts & Humanities
    Formerly maintained as the Humbul Humanities Hub: American Studies, this Intute site provides "access to the best Web resources for education and research, selected and evaluated by a network of subject specialists. There are over 18,000 Web resources listed here that are freely available by keyword searching and browsing."
  • Marija Gimbutas Collection
    Pacifica Graduate Institute's site for the collections or Marija Gimbutas, the late Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at UCLA and author of the ground-breaking book on Neolithic religion, The Language of the Goddess. Includes bibliographies and other information and links.
  • Mythology: Windows to the Universe
    Interesting site from the University of Michigan focuses on astrological phenomenon in myths: "For thousands of years people have associated objects in the sky, the Earth, and aspects of their physical world with the gods and goddesses of their cultures. Through these pages, find out about the gods and goddesses of different cultures around the world, and the works of art people have created to give them expression." The site includes a good set of links.
  • Myths & Legends
    An excellent set of links, organized by topic, geographic region or ethnic group maintained by Christopher B. Siren.
  • OriginsNet
    Created by James Harrod for the Center for Research on the Origins of Art and Religion, this site highlights images and texts that explore the prehistoric origin of art-making, religion, symbol, language, mind, and psyche. Archaeological records of Paleolithic art beginning with 3,000,000 years of hominid evolution are presented and considered in terms of archaeology, paleontology, anthropology, linguistics, semiotics, art history, history of religions, mythology, psychology and neurobiology. The site includes over 30 galleries and over 500 images of Paleolithic art. The Publications and Studies page includes research writings in both PDF and MS Word formats.
  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
    "The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is a research and educational unit of the Smithsonian Institution promoting the understanding and continuity of diverse, contemporary grassroots cultures in the United States and around the world."
  • Stories of the Dreaming
    A collaboration between Australia's Cultural Network and the Australian Museum, this site presents short stories from Aboriginal Australia told in text, audio, and video versions. The site includes a glossary of the indigenous words used in the stories.
    Based on Carl G. Liungman's 1995 book, "Thought Signs: The semiotics of Symbols--Western Non-pictorial Ideograms," this site provides over "2,500 Western signs, arranged into 54 groups according to their graphic characteristics." Searchable by graphic arrangement or browsable by word definition.
  • World Oral Literature Project
    "A collaboration between the University of Cambridge Museum of Archeology and Anthropology and Yale University, is a recent initiative to document and preserve oral literature around the world. Between 2009 and 2013, project researchers worked with communities around the world to collect oral literature in a number of endangered languages. Oral literature, as the website explains, is "a broad term which may include ritual texts, curative chants, epic poems, musical genres, folk tales, creation tales, songs, myths, spells, legends, proverbs, riddles, tongue-twisters, word games, recitations, life histories or historical narratives." Visitors may explore the complete World Oral Literature Project collection - as well as a number of donated collections - via the Collections list (organized by head researcher, title, and date) or by using the Map, which charts each project by geographic area. In addition to audio recordings, there are videos, photographs, and more relating to over 30 languages and the communities that speak them. The World Oral Literature Project focuses specifically on languages spoken in Asia and the Pacific; however, the collection also includes languages spoken in other regions, including Sierra Leone, Egypt, and Greenland."
Need More Help?
These guides will lead you to other resources if you need more information or something with a different focus. If you need assistance, be sure to ask at any reference desk for help.

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