Botkin, Benjamin Albert, 1901-1975
Benjamin A. Botkin was born in 1901 in Boston, Massachusetts. At age 15 he began classes at Harvard and graduated magna cum laude at 19. He continued his education at Columbia where he earned a MA in English literature. In 1921 he moved to Norman, Oklahoma, where he taught in the Department of English at the University of Oklahoma. He left Norman and spent a brief period in New York until he decided to return to the Midwest and study with folklore scholar Louise Pound at the University of Nebraska. He received a Ph.D. from the university in 1931. In 1937 Botkin accepted a position as the national folklore editor for the Federal Writers' Project. He also served as the co-founder and chairman of the WPA Joint Committee on Folk Arts, and chief editor of the Writers' unit of the Library of Congress. From 1942-1944 Botkin served as curator of the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song. He left this position to become a free-lance writer. He edited and published numerous regional folklore treasuries relating to American, Southern, Western, New England, railroad, and Mississippi River folklore. Botkin died in 1975.