Dorson, Richard M. (Richard Mercer), 1916-1981

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1916
Death 1981
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Dr. Richard Dorson is often cited as the father of American folklore. Over his lifetime he published a large collection of books and articles dealing with how folklore and culture are tied together. Dorson founded the Indiana University Folklore Institute in 1963, and became the first director and Chairman of the Folklore Department in 1978.

From the description of Richard M. Dorson papers, 1940-1980, bulk 1962-1977. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 528831734

Folklorist

Began his teaching career as an instructor of history at Harvard in 1943. He moved to Michigan State University in 1944 where he stayed until 1957 when he accepted a position at Indiana University as professor of history and folkore as well as that of Chairman of the Committee on Folklore. When the I.U. Folklore Institute was established in 1963, Dorson became its first director, and in 1978 he was named the first Chairman of the Folklore Department.

From the description of Papers 1925-1981. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 702669751

Folklorist. Began his teaching career as an instructor of history at Harvard in 1943. He moved to Michigan State University in 1944 where he stayed until 1957 when he accepted a position at Indiana University as professor of history and folklore as well as that of Chairman of the Committee on Folklore. When the Indiana University Folklore Institute was established in 1963, Dorson became its first director, and in 1978 he was named the first Chairman of the Folklore Department.

Dorson was born in New York City, studied at Phillips Exeter Academy, 1929-1933, earned his A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University, and began his teaching career as an instructor of history at Harvard in 1943. He moved to Michigan State University in 1944 where he stayed until 1957 when he accepted a position at Indiana University as professor of history and folklore as well as that of Chairman of the Committee on Folklore. When the Indiana University Folklore Institute was established in 1963, Dorson became its first director, and in 1978 he was named the first Chairman of the Folklore Department. Dorson also held a variety of visiting professorships, including a year at the University of Tokyo as a Fulbright Visiting Professor in American Studies (1956), a semester at the University of California, Berkeley (1968), and a semester at the University of Pennsylvania (1980).

A tireless scholar and researcher, Dorson received many awards and honors over the years, beginning with the Harvard Sheldon Traveling Fellowship for 1942-1943. Other awards included a Library of Congress Fellowship in History of American Civilization, 1946; three Guggenheim Fellowships, 1949, 1964, and 1971; fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies in 1952 and 1961; and a year as fellow at the National Humanities Center's Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, 1978-1979. His many grants from a variety of foundations and institutions include the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

He was an active member of professional societies and organizations, serving as Editor of the American Folklore Society's Journal of American Folklore, 1957-1962, as president of the Society, 1966-1968, and as the Society's delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies, 1969-1973. Dorson also served terms as vice president of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research from 1959 to 1964 and of the International Society of Ethnology and Folklore, 1964-1971. In 1973 he was elected to honorary membership of the English Folklore Society on whose Council he had been serving since 1969. In 1981 Dorson retired as Chairman of the Folklore Department but remained Director of the Folklore Institute and professor of folklore and history until his death a few months later.

From the guide to the Dorson mss., 1925-1981, (Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington) http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly)

Richard Dorson, 1916-1981, was born in New York City, studied at Phillips Exeter Academy, 1929-1933, and earned his A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. He began his teaching career at Harvard University in 1943, moved to Michigan State University in 1944, and spent the majority of his teaching years at Indiana University, 1957-1981. While at Indiana University he founded the Folklore Institute in 1963 and became the first director and Chairman of the Department of Folklore in 1978.

Over the span of his career Dr. Dorson wrote a multitude of books and articles. Dorson received many awards and honors over the years, beginning with the Harvard Sheldon Traveling Fellowship for 1942-1943; the Library of Congress Fellowship in History of American Civilization, 1946; three Guggenheim Fellowships, 1949, 1964 and 1971; and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies in 1952 and 1961. He received grants from a variety of foundations and institutions including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Dr. Dorson was also active in several professional societies and organizations in the field of folklore. He served as editor of the American Folklore Society's Journal of American Folklore, 1957-1962; as president of the society, 1966-1968, and as the society's delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies, 1969-1973. Dorson also served terms as vice president of the International Society of Folk Narrative Research from 1959 to 1964 and of the International Society of Ethnology and Folklore, 1964-1971.

From the guide to the Richard M. Dorson papers, 1940-1980, bulk 1962-1977, (Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management http://www.libraries.iub.edu/archives)

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Subjects:

  • Folklorists--Archives
  • Folklore--History--Sources

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Calumet Region (Ill. and Ind.) (as recorded)
  • Indiana--Bloomington (as recorded)
  • Indiana--Bloomington (as recorded)
  • Gary (Ind.) (as recorded)