Joyce Gibson Roach

Texas Folklore Society

Next to the American Folklore Society, The Texas Folklore Society is the oldest folklore organization continually functioning in the United States. Chartered in 1909, the Society held its first meeting on the campus of the University of Texas in 1911. Mrs. Bess Brown Lomax was on the program with a paper on the now famous "Boll Weevil" song, which Lomax had collected in the Brazos bottom in 1909. Annual meetings have continued regularly since 1911, except for interruptions in 1918-1921 and 1944-1945 caused by the great wars and their aftereffects.

The Society has stimulated the recording and study of the rich folk culture of Texas and the Southwest, has attracted both laymen and scholars, and has distributed its publications throughout America and the world.
In his preface to T for Texas: A State Full of Folklore (PTFS 44-1982), Francis Edward Abernethy says about the Society's purpose:
"I believe that the Society's main purpose is to search for ways to preserve folklore without embalming it, and to present a fairly well-educated public with the treasures of their culture's folk life. I do not believe that our purpose is to proliferate esoterica and pedantry among a small, specially educated clique.

I further believe that the Texas Folklore Society's purpose is to preserve and present the Folklore of Texas. This does not mean that our purpose is to be chauvinistic or provincial, both of which are brought about by states of mind rather than geographical locations. It means, as Kittredge said so many years ago, that Texas really is the folklorist's happy hunting ground, that we have all the fields we can ever plow, and that the work and the room to work is as wide as its borders and as inexhaustible as the winds that blow across the Staked Plains. And this work should be done by those who know the land and love it and understand it.

And finally, I believe that the purpose of the Texas Folklore Society is not to hide the light of the lore under a bushel of academic guidelines and definitions and scholarly verbiage but to let that light so shine among men that all the world but, Lord, most especially Texans may see the richness of the land and its people and its history and its continuity. In this land and its people and its history Texans must realize the place of their belonging, a mother land to moisten with their sweat, and finally to nourish with their bones."