Table of Contents

Louisiana Folklife: An Introduction

Louisiana Folklife: An Introduction, Nicholas R. Spitzer

Folklife Research in Louisiana

Ethnicity, Region, Occupation and Family

Folklife and Public Policy

Public Sector Attention to Folklife in the United States, Archie Green
Folklife and Public Policy In Louisiana
A Folklife Plan for the State of Louisiana, F. A. de Caro
Folklife and Education, C. Paige Gutierrez
Folklife and the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism
Office of Cultural Development: Division of the Arts, Louisiana Folklife Program, Division of Historic Preservation, Division of Archeology
Office of State Museum
Office of Tourism
Office of State Parks
Office of the State Library


1. Resources in Research, Preservation, and Presentation of Louisiana Folklife
2. Doctoral Dissertations/Masters Theses Relevant to Louisiana Folklife
3. Film and Video on Louisiana Folklife
4. Louisiana Folk Music on Sound Recordings
5. Louisiana Festivals -- Traditional and Otherwise
6. Louisiana State Documents Relevant to Folklife
7. Oral History and Folklife
8. Louisiana Folklife Legislation/Louisiana Folklife Commission
9. Louisiana Folklife Survey

Introduction to Folklife Research in Louisiana

By Nicholas R. Spitzer

This essay originally appeared in Folklife in Louisiana: A Guide to the State published by the Office of Cultural Development in 1985. This essay is provided online courtesy of the editor since the publication is out of print.


Cajun rice farmers near Mamou in a coup de main. Photograph: Nicholas R. Spitzer.

As the practitioners and communities of folk culture in Louisiana are increasingly identified and presented as part of public policy and local impetus toward preservation, it is easy to forget that large numbers of individuals have studied and continue to work with the state's folklife in academic and other settings. These students, scholars, and enthusiasts of folklife in Louisiana date from the earliest travelers to the region to literary collectors and writers such as George Washington Cable, Lafcadio Hearn and Alcée Fortier. Later came cultural geographers and folklorists such as Fred Kniffen, Corrine Saucier, Harry Oster, and George Reinecke, to mention a few. Contemporary individuals and groups, be they blues festival planners or Indian photodocumentors, owe it to the communities with which they work as well as themselves to look into the research findings and documentation that already exists on a group. Some of it may seem hopelessly antiquarian, while other items will be farsighted for their time. All of it is worth consulting, as the recorded interest in the folk culture of our state precedes this volume by at least two centuries. As a supplement for researchers, Appendices 1-4 and 6,7 at the end of this volume contain listings of research sources and organizations that reflect current activity in Louisiana In addition, the reader is directed to bibliographic listings at the end of each essay.

Francis A. "Frank" de Caro has taught in the English department at LSU where he is currently an associate professor, since 1970. A Ph.D. from the noted Indiana University Folklore Program, he continued a tradition of teaching folklore at LSU by presenting his first course in 1974. De Caro, who is known nationally for his work on the intellectual history of the discipline as well as work in England and India, became the first chairman of the Louisiana Folklife Commission 1982. He has also served as president of the Louisiana Folklore Society and helped found the initial state programming of folk culture in the Division of the Arts.