Folklore embodies the values of the United States as a nation and identifies the characteristics of its people. It is the study of all that is deemed Americana: its art and its festivals, its crafts and its culture. It identifies the characteristics of its people and what they hold near and dear. Folklore is also the writings of Iconic American authors like my favorite, Jack London (1876-1916). He was an all American writer whose words reflected the depth of human nature once sparked by the unfamiliar experience. Much of London’s writings focused around living the adventurous and unconventional life. London, who was born of the working class, was an excellent example of how someone living in the United States at the turn of the century could, through his own ambitions and idealism, overcome a harsh child-life and turn out to be a central figure of enormous admiration to young men with free spirits. His book “Call of the Wild” has been distributed all over the world to members of the Boy Scouts. Another of his most cherished works is “People of the Abyss, “this book is a very special read about the underclass”. To produce this piece of nonfiction, London, took to the streets of the East End of London and became a worker in disguise so he could interview both residents and tradesmen with the intention to use the knowledge he gained from their individual stories as a vehicle to describe their shocking working conditions and to expose the horrors of economic injustice to the whole world for serious contemplation.
A lighter form of Folklore is also found in the adventures of Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn as well as in the emblem of Yankee Doodle, a symbol of national identity, signifying stubborn determination, thrift and ingenuity. American Folklore depicts the early struggles of the national people who helped to shape the country and make it what it is today. Folklore can be explained in the actions of the reenactors who volunteer annually to reenact the Civil War in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Folklorists are Americans like George White, a man from Texas, a folk artist whose ancestry portrays the unique blend of ethnic origins in combination that make Americans so distinctive. White was an African American, Native American and Mexican American who had two approaches to his work – relief carvings and freestanding relief sculptures. His specialty was action scenes of the Wild West adventure and depictions of slavery.
Folklore can also be found in America’s music (both in the blues and in its country ballads) songs like Don McLean’s “American Pie” or in another piece of recognizable music from the “Mountain Queen” Jean Ritchie singing Appalachian ballads with the roots of her distinctive rhythms being found in Celtic and bluegrass lyrics. Folklore is basically anything that speaks of American civilization including blues, and barnyard dances and fiddling.
It is also America’s national legends like automobile maker Henry Ford and one of the all-time geniuses of pop culture, Walt Disney. Disney’s dream is the American dream in its entire entire splendor. It is the belief that anything is possible if you will just devote yourself to it with your whole heart and soul.
Popular Songs of American History
Walt Disney Productions
The Literature Network – showcasing author Jack London
London’s Book “People of the Abyss” – A look inside his book
Walt Disney Productions