Nebraska Authors

Benjamin Albert Botkin

Born 1901 Boston, MA (USA)

Died 1975

Botkin was already a well known folklorist when he came to Nebraska in the late 1920s to study with Louise Pound. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska in 1931. His fame as a folklorist rests on his role as the compiler of the interregional Folk-Say anthologies (1929-32), as national folklore editor of the New Deal's Federal Writers' Project (1938-39), as chief editor of the Writers' Unit of the Library of Congress Project, (1939-1941), as head of the Archive of American Folksong (1942-45) following John and Alan Lomax, and as the author of numerous folklore treasuries, beginning with A Treasury of American Folklore (1944). Botkin's Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery (1945) introduced the Federal Writers' Project ex-slave narratives. His ideas and methodology have been the subject of controversy among folklorists and are still both appreciated and debated.

Botkin's stay at the University of Nebraska was important to him. The Botkin Papers are in the UNL Archives.

Places Lived

Lincoln, NE

Author Of

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction

Keywords

Folklore; Federal Writers Project

Education

Harvard
Columbia
University of Nebraska

Occupation

Professor
Folklorist
Editor

Places Worked

University of Oklahoma
Federal Writers' Project
Library of Congress

Associations

Studied under Louise Pound at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Collaborated with Lowry Wimberly
Writer Jim Thompson was a friend.

Bibliography

A Treasury of American Folklore. 1944.
Sidewalks of America. 1954.
A Treasury of American Anecdotes. 1957.
Mid-Country. 1945. (with Lowry Wimberly)

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