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Benjamin A. Botkin Collection of Applied American Folklore

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0066

Scope and Contents

The Botkin collection includes two major components, Botkin's personal library and papers relating to his research and publications. The papers include personal and professional correspondence, manuscripts and drafts of Botkin's books, articles, and speeches. His field notes, notebooks, and card files supplement the research materials used for his work and publications. In addition, the collection contains tape recordings and phonograph records of material relating to folklore. There are thousands of letters between Botkin and other folklorists as well as individuals within the fields of literature, history, music, and publishing. Among the notable correspondents are Ira Gershwin, Mari Sandoz, Woody Guthrie, Louis L'Amour, Katherine Ann Porter, Norman Rockwell, Carl Sandburg, Pete Seeger, Francis Lee Utley, and Robert Penn Warren. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities allowed the University Libraries to create preservation microfilm for materials in the Botkin Collection. Selected materials in Series 1-6 were microfilmed. Please note that not all series are represented in the container list at this time.


  • Creation: 1919-1975


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

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.


874.00 Boxes

Language of Materials


Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries Repository

Archives & Special Collections
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
P.O. Box 884100
Lincoln NE 68588-4100 United States