Thelma G. James Papers

Accession Number: 
19.5 linear feet (1 SB, 37 shoeboxes)

Thelma G. James joined Wayne State University in 1923, known then as the College of the City of Detroit. As a professor in the English department, she taught courses on folklore and the Bible as literature. James' research concentrated on folklore and folk medicine practices of various nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. In 1939, James co-founded the Wayne State University Folklore Archive with fellow English professor Emelyn Gardner. Now the oldest and largest record of urban folk traditions in the United States, this extensive archive was the culmination of interviews conducted by James, Gardner, and their students. Throughout her career, James developed a national reputation as a pioneer of folklore studies and had had a significant impact on the Wayne State community. She received the status of Professor Emeritus upon her retirement in 1967.

This collection contains the personal papers of Thelma James, records documenting the history and organizational methods of the Wayne State University Folklore Archive, and Folklore Archive card files on diseases and other topics collected from individuals in Michigan and Detroit from a broad range of nationalities and ethnicities. The card files in this collection include Albanian, African American, Native American, Armenian, Canadian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Lithuanian, Maltese, Mexican, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Scottish, Swedish, Syrian, Turkish, and Ukrainian folklore.

1931-1990, bulk 1943-1968
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