Folklore & Fairy Tales

This is a selective guide to library and other resources on the subject of folklore, fairy tales, and folklife.

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American Regional Folklore: A Sourcebook and Research Guide. 2004.

Guide to conducting regional folklore library research (as well as research in the community) and overview essays, annotated bibliographies, and a directory of resources for eight regions of the U.S. Mugar Ref. X GR 105. 34 M66 2004.

Folklore and Folklife: A Guide to English-Language Reference Sources. 2 vols. 1992.

Annotated guide to reference works (primarily books) on folklore and folklife. Chapters cover general works, history and study of folklore/folklife, folk literature, ethnomusicology/folk music/folk dance/folk instruments, folk belief systems, folk rituals/rites, material culture, and folklore/folklife societies and journals. Mugar Z5981 S74 1992. Storage: Use Request Form.

Mythical and Fabulous Creatures: A Source Book and Research Guide. 1987.

Reference and research guide to fabulous creatures in history, literature, and art. Includes such creatures as dragons, fairies, unicorns and vampires. Mugar Ref. X GR825 M87.




Reference Works

American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. 1996.

Contains 500+ articles on American and Canadian folk culture, including genres; ethnic, immigrant, and occupational groups; individuals; holidays; arts and crafts; and music. Topics range from quilt making to Ouija, computer folklore to Friday the 13th. Mugar GR101 A54 1996.

Note: Mugar GR268.A73 R49 2007

Note: Mugar GR120 .H55 2007

Note: Mugar GR111.M49 H47 2006

Note: Mugar GR43.C4 T83 2008

A Dictionary of English Folklore


 Dictionary of Imaginary Places. 2000.

Guide to 1000+ imaginary places from literature (e.g., Oz, Middle Earth). Includes mythology, fables, classical history. Contains maps and bibliography. Mugar GR650 M36 2000.


A Dictionary of Superstitions


Encyclopedia of American Folklife. 4 vols. 2006.

From “adolescents” to “zydeco” the 350+alphabetically-arranged entries cover oral, material, and social genres and a wide range of American groups and communities. Topics include Little League baseball, recreational vehicle communities, cockfighting, and snake-handling sects. There are geographical and cultural indexes. Mugar Ref. X GR105 E53 2006.

Encyclopedia of Christmas. 2000.

Includes approximately 200 entries on the history, legends, folk customs, religious observances, and symbols of Christmas and related days worldwide. Mugar Ref. X GT4985 E45 2000.

Encyclopedia of Easter, Carnival, & Lent. 2002.

Contains 150+ entries covering the history, myths, legends, customs, religious observances, related holidays, and symbols of Easter, Carnival ,and Lent, worldwide. Mugar Ref. X GT4935 G85 2002.

An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures. 1976.

Encyclopedia of supernatural beings who are not angels, devils, or ghosts. Mugar GR549 B74 1976b. Storage: Use Request Form.

Encyclopedia of Folk Heroes. 2001.

Encyclopedia of legendary, historical ,and magical heroes from world folk tales, legends, and songs. Excludes mythical gods and heroes of literary epics. Includes an index of heroic types (for example, animals, children and children’s heroes), a country/culture index, and a chronology of folk heroes from the 9th century B.C. to the 20th century. Mugar Ref. X GR35 S4 2001.

Encyclopædia of Folklore and Folktales of South Asia. 15 vols. 2003.

Discusses ancient legends, popular beliefs and folktales of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tibet, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia. Mugar GR302 E53 2003.

Encyclopedia of Women’s Folklore and Folklife. 2 vols. 2009.

Contains four themed essays: “women’s folklore,” “folklore about women,” “folklore of subversion,” and “women folklorists and 250+ alphabetically arranged entries on the folklore/folklife of women across time, space, and life. Mugar Ref. X GR470 E63 2009.

The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. 5 vols. 1965.

Edited by Francis James Child, this work presents the text and variations of 305 Scottish and English ballads (now known as Child ballads), together with commentary about the ballads. Mugar PR1181 E82.

Note: Mugar Reserves GR550 .A77 2004

Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art. 2 vols. 1997.

Cross-cultural encyclopedia of folklore forms (ballads, legends) and methods of inquiry and analysis (linguistic approach, historic-geographic method). Entries, which include such topics as Xeroxlore, computer-mediated folklore, and vampires, include references for further reading. Mugar GR35 F63 1997.

The Folklore of World Holidays. 1992.

Arranged by the Gregorian calendar (January 1 to December 31), this work describes 340+ holidays in 150+ countries, excluding the U.S. With few exceptions (e.g., Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo), political holidays are excluded. Mugar Ref. X GT3930 F65 1992.

Note: Mugar GT2850 .T48 2008

Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. 1984.

Comprehensive encyclopedia and dictionary dealing with worldwide gods, heroes, tales, motifs, customs, beliefs, songs, dances, games, proverbs, etc. Mugar GR35 F82 1984.

Note: Mugar GR170 .A543 2006

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore. 3 vols. 2006.

From “Abakwa” to “Zydeco,” the 700 entries cover African American folk culture, folklore scholars, foods, material culture, music, religion, and more. An appendix lists folklife programs, cultural centers, museums, and archives for African American folklore. Mugar Ref. X GR111 A47 G74 2006.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales. 3 vols. 2008.

International in scope and spanning antiquity to the present, this work contains nearly 700 alphabetically-arranged entries on the scholarship of fairy tales and folktales. Entries include characters and character types, genres, geographical essays, individuals, national traditions, themes and motifs, and other topics. Mugar Ref. X GR74 G73 2008.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Folklore and Folklife. 4 vols. 2005.

Four-volume encyclopedia surveying “the world’s folklore heritages in a way that emphasizes the international nature of folklore in general and of specific folklore materials, while placing folklore within particular cultural milieus.” Volume 1 begins with thirty-nine articles “on processes, research tools, social and intellectual movements, and concepts important for understanding folklore on an international, intercultural basis.” The remaining 200+ entries are arranged geographically by continent/ region. Mugar Ref. X GR35 G75 2006.

Handbook of American Popular Culture. 2nd. ed. 3 vols. 1989.

Contains bibliographic essays on various aspects of American popular culture, including death, foodways, graffiti, and the occult. Mugar Ref. X E169.1 H2643 1989.

International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. 26 vols. 2001.

Includes essays on folk religion and folklore. Mugar Ref. X H41 I58 2001.

Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore. 1995.

Dictionary of more than 1500 folklore terms, motifs, archetypes, and figures (historic and fictional); a biographical guide to 37 prominent folklorists; a list of international folklore/ethnic museums; and a calendar of festivals and folklore events. Mugar Ref. X GR35 J664 1995.

The Mythical Zoo: An Encyclopedia of Animals in World Myth, Legend, and Literature. 2001.

From ants to wrens, lengthy essays describe 50+ animals in anthrozoology, myth, and legend. Illustrated with medieval prints, editorial cartoons, and advertisements. Entries include bibliographies. Mugar Ref. X GR705 S344 2001.

The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales.  2000.

From its ancient roots in the oral tradition to the postmodernist reworkings of the present day, the fairy tale has retained its powerful hold over the cultural imagination of Europe and North America. Now The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales provides the first authoritative reference source for this complex, captivating genre. With more than 800 entries written by a team of 67 specialists from around the world, the Companion offers an illuminating look at the classic tales themselves, both ancient and modern.  Mugar Ref. X PN3437 .O94 2000.

The Penguin Dictionary of American Folklore. 2000.

Contains 750 entries (including brief definitions and lengthy essays) on American folklore, tradition, and popular culture. Mugar GR105.34 A94 2000.

Note: Mugar GR138 .K67 2007

Note: Mugar GR308 .K67 2006

Storytelling Encyclopedia: Historical, Cultural, and Multiethnic Approaches to Oral Traditions Around the World. 1997.

Contains 700+ encyclopedic entries on oral traditions, themes, motifs, characters, storytellers, scholars in the field, and classic stories. A separate section contains articles on different aspects of storytelling. Mugar GR72 S76 1997.

Tale Type- and Motif-Indexes

Archetypes and motifs in folklore and literature: a handbook


Introduction to the Motif-Index of Folk-Literature.


Motif-Index of Early Irish Literature. 1952.

A supplement to the work listed below, this title classifies motifs of early Irish tradition. Mugar GR67 F52. Storage: Use Request Form.

Motif-Index of Folk-Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and Local Legends. 6 vols. 1955-1958.

Usually referred to as Stith Thompson (the author), this is an alpha-numeric classification system for the motifs (incidents, actors, and items) found in traditional narrative literature. Consists of a decimal classification scheme of 23 main divisions and detailed subdivisions, and an alphabetical index of motifs. Mugar GR67 F55.

PDF Outline of Stith Thompson’s Motif-Index of Folk-Literature.


The Types of the Folk-Tale: A Classification and Bibliography. 1971.

Referred to as Aarne-Thompson, this is a classification system for tale types found in Indo-European folktales, first compiled by Antti Aarne and revised by Stith Thompson. Tale types are story lines, whereas motifs (classified by Thompson, above) are smaller narrative units. Mugar GR40 A1513 1971. Storage: Use Request Form.

Types of the Folktale in the Arab World: A Demographically Oriented Tale-Type Index. 2004.

“Types of the Folktale in the Arab World is an index and preliminary analysis of folktales told by the diverse ethnic groups that populate what is commonly called “the Arab World.” It is also a comprehensive and interdisciplinary guide to tales told in related cultural spheres, from sub-Saharan Africa to Turkey and beyond.” Mugar GR268 A73 E42 2004.

Bibliographies and Catalogs

American Folklore: A Bibliography, 1950-1974. 1977.

Contains 3600 citations to books and journal articles on American folklore. Brief annotations. Mugar Z5984 U6 F55. Storage: Use Request Form.

Catalog of Folklore, Folklife and Folk Songs. 3 vols. 1978.

Catalog of the folklore holdings of the Cleveland Public Library. Arranged alphabetically by subject. Mugar Z5985 C5 1978M. Storage: Use Request Form.

Centennial Index: 100 Years of American Folklore. 1988.

A one-hundred year index to the Journal of American Folklore. Mugar Micro X GR1 E88 Index.

Contemporary Legend: A Folklore Bibliography. 1993.

An annotated bibliography of contemporary legends (e.g., Elvis sightings, vanishing hitchhiker), containing chapters on anthologies, introductions and overviews, theoretical and technical studies, texts and case studies. Mugar Z5981 B46 1993. Storage: Use Request Form.

Folklore and Literature in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography of Studies of Folklore in American Literature. 1984.

Surveys the literature of folklore in the works of American authors. Mugar Z1225 J66 1984. Storage: Use Request Form.

Folklore and Literature of the British Isles: An Annotated Bibliography. 1986.

Annotated bibliography of 1000+ articles and books written between 1890 and 1980, with tale type, motif, Child ballad, and subject indexes. Mugar Ref. X Z2014 F6 B34 1986.

A Guide to Folktales in the English Language. 1987.

A guide to locating texts of standard versions and variants of folktales. Arranged by Aarne-Thompson classification system (see The Types of the Folk-Tale: A Classification and Bibliography, in the “Tale Type- and Motif-Indexes” section), with a keyword/title index. Mugar Z5983 F17 A83 1987. Storage: Use Request Form.

Jewish Folklore: An Annotated Bibliography. 1986.

Annotated list of 1300+ books and articles arranged alphabetically by author, with a subject index. Mugar GR98 Y366 1986.

Tale Type- and Motif-Indexes: An Annotated Bibliography. 1987.

Introductory essay on the history of tale type- and motif-indexes, and an annotated bibliography of 186 tale type- and motif-indexes. Mugar Z5983 L5 A98 1987. Storage: Use Request Form.

Women and Folklore: A Bibliographic Survey. 1983.

Contains essays and citations to 1664 English-language publications on various aspects of women and folklore. Mugar Z5983 W65 D4 1983. Storage: Use Request Form.

Websites, Blogs, & Full-text Sources