Current Board Members
Kathryn MacKay is Professor of History at Weber State University. She received her PhD from the University of Utah. Her research and teaching areas include Native American History, Women’s Studies, the American West, and Honors. She is currently serving as a board member of the Weber Arts Council, Ogden City Landmarks Commission, Brigham City Art & History Museum, Utah Historical Quarterly, and Weber Studies. She has many activities and honors: In 2007 she was honored as a Distinguished Scholar by the Utah Humanities Council; she serves as Scholar -in-Residence for the Brigham City Library, Reading/Discussion Series, as Co-director of Arts in the Parks for Ogden City, and as Change Leader for the Utah Division, Arts & Museums. Her most recent publications can be found in Utah Historical Quarterly, Folklore in Utah: A History and Guide to Resources, and Women in Utah: History, Paradigm, or Paradox?
A native Utahn, Michael Christensen is currently enjoying public sector work as Program Coordinator/Folklorist at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, an organization dedicated to enriching and strengthening communities by promoting the expression of the arts, education, opportunities for economic development, and the celebration of human diversity. Michael's responsibilities include working with Utah’s ethnic, folk, and traditional artists, curating and installing gallery exhibitions, producing concerts, festivals, demonstrations, celebrations, educational and other public arts/cultural programming.
Lynne McNeill is an Instructor and Director of Online Development for the Folklore Program at Utah State University, co-director of the Digital Folklore Project, and author of Folklore Rules. Research interests include legend, belief, and digital culture.
Heidi Williams is an instructor at Utah State University. She graduated with an MA in American Studies—Folklore from USU with a research emphasis in folk art, material culture, vernacular architecture, and oral history.
Amy Howard is an Instructor at Idaho State University. She teaches Folklore, English Composition, and first year Spanish courses. She received her MA in American Studies and Folklore from Utah State University in 2014. Her research areas include occupational folklore, agriculture, material culture, and Mormon folklore.
David Allred is Department Chair and Associate Professor of English at Snow College. His Ph.D. in English and Folklore Studies is from the University of Missouri.
Randy Williams is Fife Folklore Archives Curator & Oral History Specialist at the Special Collections & Archives of Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier Library. Her areas of academic interest include community-based oral history work, belief systems, archiving, diversity awareness, Mormon family and public folklore. For more information on Randy and her current projects through the archives, please visit: https://archives.usu.edu/folklo/curator.php
Lori J. Lee is a graduate of the Utah State University master's program in American Studies and Folklore with a research emphasis in personal narrative. A resident of Bountiful, Utah she has two sons and engages in the craft of hand-made card design. Lori is the author of four guidebooks: hiking, snowshoe, yurt and weekend outdoor adventures: Wild Weekends in Utah; The Best Hiking Trails Near Salt Lake City; Best Snowshoe Trails of the Wasatch; and Yurts of Utah and has over 110 publications in national, regional and local magazines. She is a professional snowshoe and hiking guide in the Wasatch Range. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deirdre Paulsen has roots in New Jersey and Utah. She became interested in folklore studies through her grandfather Rowland Rider's cowboy stories of the Arizona Strip which she collected and analyzed for her masters degree from BYU in American Lit and Humanities. Later the stories were published under the title The Roll-away Saloon. Along with honors composition courses and starting the Writing Fellows program at BYU , she has taught folklore for BYU for over twenty years. Other areas of focus include Russian folklore (the award winning folklore documentary "Russia: Hidden Memory") and Brazilian folklore as a result of living in Brazil for five years. Deirdre is past president of the Folklore Society of Utah. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Jill Terry Rudy, Associate Professor of English, Brigham Young University, researches the history of American folklore scholarship, fairy tale and folk narratives, intermediality, family folklore, and foodways. She has published in College English, Journal of American Folklore, and other folklore journals. She editedThe Marrow of Human Experience: Essays on Folklore by William A. Wilson and co-edited, with Pauline Greenhill, Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television. She co-directs a digital humanities project, Fairy Tales and TV, with a searchable, interactive website at fttv.byu.edu.
Adrienne Decker earned an M.A. in Folklore from the University of Oregon. Prior to joining the Utah Division of Arts & Museums as their Folk Arts Specialist, she held the position of Assistant Folklorist for the Oregon Folklife Network. In addition to developing funding and programming opportunities for Utah's traditional artists, she co-directs the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts and serves as a consultant for the annual Living Traditions Festival in Salt Lake City.
The observation of folklore has been around long before written or pictographic records, though written accounts of the study and preservation of folklore in Utah only date back to 1891. Early Utah folklorists were not university professors or officials of any folklore organization. They were simply people who were enthusiastic about the traditions and cultures they observed or were part of. In the 1930s, the nationwide wave of interest in rural and working-class life that coincided with the Great Depression also reached Utah. This trend led to the development of regional folklore in the Great Basin and in the West.
Utah folklore studies were spurred on in the late 1950s and early '60s, as in other states, by the folksong revival, a wave of national interest in folk music that owed much to the popularity of such urban-based performers as the Weavers, Harry Belafonte, Burl Ives, and the Kingston Trio. All across the country, folksingers, university students, labor organizers, and musicians banded together in folk music and folk dance clubs, founded coffee houses, organized concerts, and started small record companies to market their own musical talents and those of the venerable musicians of Appalachia and the Deep South whom they so admired. Folk festivals modeled after the largest and best-publicized, the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, sprang up, as did local, state, and regional folklore societies.
Utah was very much part of this trend, with local performers like Rosalie and Jim Sorrels and Bruce "U. Utah" Phillips leading the revival. The Folklore Society of Utah, however, sprang not from the folksong revival but from the efforts of university-based academics. Wayland Hand, a Salt Lake City native teaching at UCLA, returned to Utah in 1957 to teach in the summer school at the University of Utah. His appointment had been arranged by Dean Harold Bentley of the Extension Division, who had long been interested in Utah folklore. On July 22, a "Folklore Evening" was held in the Student Union. Hand, whose enthusiasm for folklore matters was very contagious, spoke on "Folklore in America" and advocated organizing a folklore society on the model of other state-based groups.
With a group of converts in place, the Folklore Society of Utah launched its inaugural event on 30 June 1958, with one hundred people in attendance. In 1972, for the first time in the society's history, students were actively encouraged to present at the annual meeting. Today, the Folklore Society of Utah’s annual meeting includes a wonderful mix of presentations by undergraduate and graduate students, academic folklorists, and public-sector folklorists.