How to do research in Folklore

Library resources for researchers working on folkloristics


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier.

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Subject terms - folklore, food, furniture, mythology, “social life and customs”
  • Genre terms - “tales, [Country]” (e.g., “tales, Ireland”), "personal narratives," songs
  • Geographic terms - China, Italy, Nigeria, United States
  • Region or language terms - Appalachia*, Amazon River region, Creole dialects, Great Plains, Italian
  • Time period terms - 19th, 21st, "to 1800", ancient, medieval, modern


The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

JSTOR (via HarvardKey) -- A top database for scholarship in folklore and mythology studies, JSTOR is a trusted archive of important scholarly journals, books, and primary sources across many disciplines. Not the best option for publications more recent than 3-5 years ago, due to embargoes on recent issues. Search tip: Visit the Advanced Search page and check the box(es) to search within “Folklore” or “Classical Studies” (for mythology).

Web of Science Core Collection (via HarvardKey) -- Provides searchable abstracts covering major journal literature of the arts, social sciences, and sciences, including healthy coverage in folklore and mythology. Search tip: try multiple searches, with different synonyms and keyword combinations.

Dig Deeper

The Library Research Guide for Folklore and Mythology provides basic resources for research in Folkloristics.


Ramona Crawford, the library liaison to Folklore and Mythology, is available to support researchers via email or in-person consultation.


The Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature (Widener Library Room C) is one of the largest and best of its kind in the world. It contains unpublished epics, ballads, songs, tales, and other kinds of lore from Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America in the original languages.


How to do research in History

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Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

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