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FTS: Childhood in Nordic Folk and Fairy Tales: Using Folk Motif Indexes

Folk Motif Indexes

Below you''ll find information on two motif indexes on Course Reserves for your class: (1) the Stith-Thompson Motif-Index of Folk-Literature and (2) the Storyteller's Source Book. These are but two of the useful books that are on Course Reserves for your class.

Where to find the Stith-Thompson Motif Index

Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, Stith Thompson
Location: Course Reserves GR67 .T53 (v. 1-6) (Ask for it at the Information Desk)

About the Stith-Thompson Motif Index

"Information needs to be organized, and how it's organized matters."

Long before the internet, Stith Thompson wanted to make it possible for folklorists to find similarities in folklore across the world. To do this, he created a classification scheme that would sort all folklore into broad categories.

Stith Thompson sorted folktales into these categories, listing where they were published, and created an index to them all. 

There is an online version, too, but it's basically a copy, and not any easier to use.

Using the Stith-Thompson Motif Index

(1) Look up a motif in volume 6 (index). In this case, I looked up "Crops": See image below.

(2) Jot down the code for one of the collections of tales under your motif. For instance, the first entry: "Crops burned as punishment Q595.2." Then look up the collection under the code (in this case, Q595.2 in vol. 5, L-Z). See image below.

(3) Jot down the abbreviation for the book you've identified (in this case, Irish Myth: Cross), and look it up in the bibliography (vol.1, starts on page 37). In this case, the bibliographic entry is under the author "Cross" and the work cited is the "Motif-Index of Early Irish Literature." See image below:

(4) To find the source, try the title in the library's search box. You can request things we don't have from other libraries by broadening your search to "libraries worldwide." If our library does not own the book, you also might try searching Google Scholar, as some books (especially older ones), may be publicly available in digitized form online.

 

Where to Find the Storyteller's Sourcebook Motif Index

Note: The earlier edition (up to 1982) of The Storyteller's Sourcebook is also on Course Reserves

Using the Storyteller's Sourcebook Motif Index

(1) Use the subject index to find your motif. In this case, I've found the motif, "bird, nightingale" in the 1982 edition.

(2) Jot down the code for one of the collections of tales under your motif. For instance, the first entry: "Eagle confers title...U119.5.1." Then look up the collection under the code in the motif index. See image below.

(3) Jot down the abbreviation for the collection (book) you've identified (in this case, Carey BABA 17), and look it up in the bibliography of collection indexed. In this case, the bibliographic entry is under the editor (or collector) "Carey, Bonnie," the work cited is "Baba Yaga's Geese, and Other Russian Stories," and the tale appears on page 17 of that collection. This is the bibliographic citation for our example:

Carey, Bonnie. BABA YAGA'S GEESE, AND OTHER RUSSIAN STORIES. Illus. Guy Fleming. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1973.

(4) To find the collection, try the title in the library's search box. You can request things we don't have from other libraries by broadening your search to "libraries worldwide." If our library does not own the book, you also might try searching Google Scholar, as some books (especially older ones), may be publicly available in digitized form online.

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