Roger D. Abrahams Papers, Folklore Archives
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives [Contact Us]3260 South Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104-6324
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Roger D. Abrahams, born June 12, 1933 in Philadelphia, PA, is an American anthropologist and folklorist and former president of the American Folklore Association. He obtained a B.A. in English from Swarthmore College in 1955 before going on to receive an M.A. in Literature and Folklore from Columbia University in 1959. Two years later he received a Ph.D. also in Literature and Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. For three years beginning in 1963, Abrahams was an instructor in the English Department of the University of Texas. He was subsequently promoted to assistant professor (1963-1966) and associate professor (1966-1969) and held positions in both the English and Anthropology Departments. During his time at the University of Texas, Abrahams served as the Associate Director for the Center for Intercultural Studies in Folklore and Oral History (1968-1970) as well as a Director for the Afro-American Research Institute. In 1974, Abrahams was appointed chairman of the English Department chairman, a position he held for five years. From 1979 to 1985 he served as the Alexander H. Kenan Professor of Humanities and Anthropology at Scripps and Pitzer Colleges, before leaving to return to the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. At the University of Pennsylvania he served as the Hum Rosen Professor of Folklore and Folklife (1989-2002), as well as the Founding Director for the Center for Folklore and Ethnography (1999-2002). He retired from academia in 2002.
Abrahams has also served in numerous positions outside of his career in academics. Between 1975 and 1982 Abrahams served as a panelist for the National Endowment of the Humanities’ Special Project in Education and the National Endowment for the Arts’ Artist-in-the-Schools programs. He also served as the editor for the reprint series of “The Ethnography of Performance” and as a member of the advisory and editorial boards of the Encyclopedia of American Ethnicity, Wayne State Publications in Folklore, and the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Abrahams’ research has focused on African and African Diaspora folkloric concepts and ideas. Abrahams has published twenty-one books and monographs, sixty book chapters and introductions, sixty-four scholarly articles, six encyclopedia and handbook entries, and twenty-five “notes” sections in various publications. The Roger D. Abrahams Collection consists of three linear feet of textual records covering Abrahams’ research in the Caribbean islands of Nevis and St. Kitts, St. Vincent, and Tobago (1965-1968), as well as correspondence, manuscripts, and publications from throughout his career. The collection also includes ___ reel-to-reel tape recordings and photographic slides and prints.
The Roger D. Abrahams Collection consists of three linear feet of textual records covering Abrahams’ research in the Caribbean islands of Nevis and St. Kitts, St. Vincent, and Tobago (1965-1968), as well as correspondence, manuscripts, and publications from throughout his career. The collection also includes ___ reel-to-reel tape recordings and photographic slides and prints.
The Roger D. Abrahams Collection is associated with The University of Pennsylvania Folklore Archives. The University of Pennsylvania Folklore Archives was originally formed around the 1950s recordings from Jamaica and Newfoundland by J. Granville Leach, founder of the Folklore graduate program. The permanent archives of the Folklore Department were later established in 1970 and were active until the last students completed coursework in 2006. In 2010, the archives were transferred to the Penn Museum Archives.
The original folder titles and organization were maintained throughout most of the collection. Loose, unidentified, and miscellaneous records were re-integrated into the collection where possible.
The reel-to-reel tape recordings comprise songs, stories, poems, etc., collected by Abrahams in Tobago, St. Vincent, and Nevis in 1965 and 1966.
The field notes series contains 17 notebooks and 2 folders of loose field notes containing written transcriptions and notes collected from each Caribbean island. The notes are arranged by location and by topic. Most have original titles and numbering sequence established by Abrahams. 0.6 linear feet.
The transcriptions were produced from the content of the audio recordings. They consist of handwritten and typed stories, songs, poems, etc. Many of the transcriptions contain varying versions of the same story. Two folders consist of unidentified transcriptions. The series also includes riddles. 1 linear foot.
The notes and analysis series contains mostly handwritten ideas and thoughts on subjects of interest to Abrahams. A number of these topics were also turned by Abrahams into publications. 0.5 linear feet.
Correspondence is the smallest series. Abrahams did not keep many letters. Much of Abrahams’ correspondence is related to his publications, and these letters can be found in the manuscripts and publications series. 0.1 linear feet.
The manuscripts and publications series consists of books, articles, and reviews by Abrahams, as well as contributions to the works by others. The writings have been arranged chronologically, except for undated manuscripts, which are at the beginning. The series also includes correspondence relating to the publications. 0.8 linear feet.
Visual materials consist of photographic prints and 35mm color slides. These are not yet processed.
- University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Paige Randazzo
- Finding Aid Date