Don Yoder


Don Yoder (August 27, 1921– August 11, 2015) was an American folklorist specializing in the study of Pennsylvania Dutch, Quaker, and Amish and other Anabaptist folklife in Pennsylvania who wrote at least 15 books on these subjects.[1] A professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania,[2][3] he specialized in religious folklife and the study of belief. He is known for his teaching, collecting, field trips, recording, lectures, and books. He also co-founded a folk festival in Pennsylvania, which is the USA's oldest continual annual folklife festival,[4] and is credited with "bringing the idea of "folklife" to the United States".[5]

Early life and education edit

Yoder was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania.[6] He was the ninth generation of a Pennsylvania German lineage.[5] Yoder graduated with a B.A. in history from Franklin and Marshall College in 1942. He received a Ph.D. in American church history from the University of Chicago in 1947.

Academic career edit

He taught at Union Theological Seminary, Muhlenberg College, and Franklin and Marshall College. At the latter, he co-founded – with Dr. Alfred Shoemaker and Dr. William Frey – the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center and the journal The Pennsylvania Dutchman. In 1950, Yoder, Shoemaker and Frey founded the Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Festival – now the Kutztown Folk Festival. This is the oldest continuously operated annual folklife festival in the United States.[5]

At the festival, Yoder and his colleagues aimed to showcase an entire way of life rather than just the expressive culture of a community (as other American folk festivals did). Taking inspiration from scholarship and museum practice in Germany and particularly Scandinavia (Volkskunde[7]), they used the term "folklife" – distinguished from "folklore" – to describe this all-encompassing view.[8]

In 1956, Yoder joined the University of Pennsylvania.[9] Yoder was key to the creation of the university's Department of Folklore and Folklife,[5] where his colleagues included MacEdward Leach (who he took over from as Head of Department in 1966), Dell Hymes, Henry Glassie, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, John Szwed, Roger Abrahams, Dan Ben-Amos, Kenneth S. Goldstein, Margaret Mills, and Regina Bendix (and Anthony F.C. Wallace and Ward Goodenough who were in the Department of Anthropology). He was a fellow and former president of the American Folklore Society.[9]

Yoder wrote about many aspects of folklife studies, specializing in religion, religious music, Fraktur, foodways, costume, and other material culture. His books, especially American Folklife (1976) and Discovering American Folklife (1990) and his articles on folklife studies in the 1960s and 1970s are seminal texts in the field of folkloristics.[10] He co-founded the Pennsylvania Folklife Society in 1949.[1] He served as editor of the journal, Pennsylvania Folklife, for many years. In 1951 he was scheduled to lead a 46-day tour of Europe offered through Franklin and Marshall College.[11] He also regularly conducted research in Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland, the ancestral homelands of many Pennsylvania cultures.

Affiliations edit

Yoder served as president of the American Folklore Society in 1981. An annual lecture at the Society is named in his honour as well as a graduate award.[12]

Yoder was influential in the creation of the American Folklife Center. In 1970, Yoder was one of the witness before Congress as part of the hearings examining the concept of an American Folklife Foundation, where he testified in favour of such a foundation. When the American Folklife Center was founded six years later, Yoder was named as one of its original Trustees.[5]

Collections edit

The University of North Carolina has a Don Yoder Collection of American Hymnody.[13] His art and ephemera collection is now housed in the library at Cabrini University.

Selected publications edit

  • Yoder, Don (1961). Pennsylvania Spirituals. Lancaster: Pennsylvania Folklife Society. OCLC 937086273.
  • Yoder, Don (1968). 'Foreword' to Johnson, Guy Benton (1968) Folk Culture on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, Hatboro, Pa.: Folklore Associates. OCLC 306572
  • Yoder, Don (1972). "Folk Cookery," "Folk Costume," and "Folk Medicine" in Folklore and Folklife: An Introduction (ed. Richard Dorson). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. OCLC 977474824.
  • Yoder, Don (1976). American Folklife. London : University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-72907-0. OCLC 785335371
  • Yoder, Don (1980). Pennsylvania German Immigrants, 1709–1786: Lists Consolidated from Yearbooks of the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, Genealogical Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-8063-0892-0. OCLC 951905290.
  • Yoder, Don (1990). The Picture-Bible of Ludwig Denig; a Pennsylvania German Emblem Book. New York, N.Y.: Hudson Hills Press in association with the Museum of American Folk Art and the Pennsylvania German Society: Distributed in the United States ... by Rizzoli International Publications. ISBN 978-1-55595-034-7. OCLC 19624806.
  • Yoder, Don (1990). Discovering American folklife: studies in ethnic, religious, and regional culture. Ann Arbor.: UMI Research Press. ISBN 978-0-8357-1973-5. OCLC 243442261
  • Yoder, Don and Graves, Thomas E. (2000) Hex Signs: Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Symbols & Their Meanings. New York: E.P. Dutton. ISBN 978-0-525-24466-0. OCLC 19824543.
  • Yoder, Don (2003). Groundhog Day. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole. ISBN 978-0-8117-0029-0. OCLC 52542605
  • Yoder, Don (2005). The Pennsylvania German broadside: a history and guide. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press for the Library Co. of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania German Society. ISBN 978-0-271-02679-4. OCLC 58807375

External links edit

  • "A Century of Don Yoder: Father of American Folklife" A memorial website bringing together a range of online resources about Yoder's life and work.

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Best Bets".
  2. ^ "Yoder". Archived from the original on 2016-02-02.
  3. ^ "Folklife Center News". 2002.
  4. ^ [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c d e Winick, Stephen (2015-08-12). "Don Yoder (1921–2015): The Man Who Put the "Life" in "Folklife" | Folklife Today". Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  6. ^ "Don Yoder, 93, professor of folklore at University of Pennsylvania". 18 August 2015.
  7. ^ Major Themes in African Literature. AP Express Publishers. March 8, 2000. ISBN 9789783508286 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Yoder, Don; Best, Martha; Bomberger, Barbara; Breininger, Lester; Angstadt, Ernest; Gougler, Richard; DeLong, Marsha; Longstreet, Dorothy; Zecher, Peg; Robacker, Earl; Robacker, Ada (1974-07-01). "Pennsylvania Folklife Vol. 23, Folk Festival Supplement". Pennsylvania Folklife Magazine.
  9. ^ a b 2006 Don Yoder Lecture Milwaukee Wisconsin
  10. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  11. ^ "History News". American Association for State and Local History. March 8, 1951 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ "Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section – American Folklore Society". 8 February 2021.
  13. ^ Yoder, Don (March 8, 1990). Discovering American Folklife: Studies in Ethnic, Religious, and Regional Culture. UMI Research Press. ISBN 9780835719735 – via Google Books.