Warren E. Roberts

Courtesy of Sabina Magliocco



Born in 1924, Warren E. Roberts received in 1953 the first PhD in folklore awarded in the United States. At first a literary folklorist focused on traditional English and Scottish ballads, Warren turned to traditional material culture and folklife—the everyday life of rural Americans during the pre-Industrial period—after spending 1959-1960 in Norway under a Fulbright fellowship and an additional two months under a Guggenheim fellowship. Upon returning to Bloomington and Indiana University, he devoted his long and influential career to establishing an outdoor museum of early Indiana life and researching and writing about traditional material culture of the Hoosier state, most notably tree stump tombstones and log buildings. Warren E. Roberts died on February 1, 1999.

To examine a Selected Bibliography of Warren's many publications on folktales, material culture, and folklife, press here.

About Warren E. Roberts

“It is only folklife research that is concerned primarily with the traditional society of the past, its persistence into the present, and its influence on the present. People who are studying folklife must concentrate heavily on traditional material culture. The study of traditional material culture should, therefore, never become an independent discipline divorced from the study of people and their society. If one is going to study buildings, he or she is going to have to study the people who built them and the people who lived in them. I firmly believe that there is no other way.”

"Folklife and Traditional Material Culture: A Credo," in Viewpoints,19.