Inventory of the Archer Taylor papers pertaining to folklore, 1890-1973
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Inventory of the Archer Taylor papers Pertaining to Folklore, 1890-1973
Collection number: ARCHIVES TAYLOR 1
The Music Library
University of California, Berkeley
- Music Library
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- University of California, Berkeley
- Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
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© 1998 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Title: Archer Taylor Papers Pertaining to Folklore,
Date (inclusive): 1890-1973
Collection number: ARCHIVES TAYLOR 1
Taylor, Archer, 1890-1973
Extent: Number of containers: 2 boxes
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Shelf location: For current information on the location of
these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Part of the bequest by the family to the University of California in 1974.
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in
writing to the Head of the Music Library.
[Identification of item], Archer Taylor papers pertaining to folklore, ARCHIVES TAYLOR 1,
The Music Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Memoirs of Fellows and Corresponding Fellows of The Mediaeval Academy of America
---from Speculum (July, 1974), pp. 606-08
Archer Taylor, a Fellow of the Academy since 1941, was born in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania on 1 August 1890, and died in Vallejo, California on 30 September 1973. His
family belonged to the Society of Friends and the quiet self discipline of the Quaker was
evident throughout his long life of unremitting and painstaking research and selfless
service to other scholars. Few men of his learning and massive publications have shared
their knowledge so freely with their students, colleagues, friends and, again and again,
with people in all parts of the world of whom he knew nothing beyond their writings or,
indeed, their aspirations to write.
Taylor received an A.B. from Swarthmore in 1909, an M.A. in German from the University of
Pennsylvania in 1910, and the Ph.D. in German from Harvard in 1915. Between the
University of Pennsylvania and Harvard he taught at Pennsylvania State College and made
his first visit to Europe. At Harvard, between 1912 and 1915, he took courses with H. C.
Bierwirth, Kuno Franke, W. G. Howard, Hans C. G. von Jagemann, G. L. Kittredge, F. N.
Robinson, W. H. Schofield and J. A. Walz. His thesis, The
motifs in Wolfdietrich, was written under Walz with advice from Kittredge and Robinson.
Taylor did not publish his dissertation as a whole, but to read it, as one of the
undersigned did recently, is to show how, at the advanced age of not quite 25, he had set
the pattern which he was to maintain through life: meticulous examination of texts,
mastery of the bibliography of the subject, searching yet not querulous analysis of
previous scholarship, separation and identification of themes, not as easy then as now,
and above all, a wealth of comparative material from many languages, literatures, and
Taylor's teaching career carried him steadily westward. From 1915 to 1925 he was at
Washington University in Saint Louis, from 1925 to 1939 at the University of Chicago, and
from 1939 until he became
emeritus in 1957 at the University of California
in Berkeley. Everywhere he cheerfully undertook a heavy teaching load and at Chicago and
Berkeley he spent long years as Chairman of his Department. As Chairman, he was an
imaginative recruiter of younger scholars whom, by example and precept, he imbued with
his own enthusiasm for teaching and research.
If "publish or perish" had validity Taylor would be alive today and, since that is not
the case, he is somewhere in the empyrean sitting on a monument of publications, hot as
when they appeared from the press, and smiling benignly down on less prolific mortals.
From his first brief note on a
Rosengarten theme in 1916 to the time of
his final illness, he produced a stream of articles, reviews and books which, had he done
nothing else, would make one think him a reincarnation of some many-handed god or giant
merely to have written them. Exaggerated though such a statement may sound, a glance at
his bibliography makes exaggeration fade into truth. Taylor was by training a Germanist
and medievalist, but his
oeuvre, a word too fashionable to omit, proves
him a master of folklore in the most generous sense of that word. His knowledge of the
Middle Ages, and behind that of the classical literature affected and enlightened almost
all that he wrote. His range, as impressive as his productivity, moved majestically from
century to century, genre to genre, country to country, and continent to continent. As an
instance of the last, only a couple of years ago, a collection of his articles dealing
with Asiatic subjects was published in Taiwan and ran to several hundred pages. By
convention, these memoirs are, and must be, brief. In consequence we list only a few of
his major writings:
The Black Ox (1927),
Edward and Sven i
The Proverb (1931),
The Literary History
Problems in German Literary History of the
Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries
A Collection of Welsh Riddles(with Vernam Hull) (1942),
Renaissance Guides to Books (1945),
The Literary Riddle Before 1600 (1948),
English Riddles from Oral
(1951 -959 pages!)
An Annotated Collection of Mongolian Riddles(1954),
Proverbial Comparisons and Similes from California (1954),
A Collection of Irish Riddles (with Vernam Hull) (1955),
The Shanghai Gesture (1956),
Catalogues: Their Varieties and Uses
A Dictionary of American
Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
(with B. J. Whiting) (1958),
Rare Books: A Chapter in Bibliographical History
(1958). Our selection suggests
the breadth of Taylor's scholarly interests, but it does no justice to the number of
articles with which he enriched us during his last years.
Taylor's scholarly eminence was recognized both here and abroad. There are few pertinent
societies or academies of which he was not an active or honorary member. He was President
of the American Folklore Society (1935-37) and of the Modern Language Association (1951).
On his seventieth birthday (1960), he was presented with a handsome festschrift entitled
Humaniora, the introduction to which by Gustave O. Arlt gives details of
his private life which those who only know him by his writings should read. In his
eightieth year an issue of
Proverbium (Helsinki, 1970) was dedicated to
him. Since his death a number of appreciative articles have appeared, of which we mention
with especial pleasure that by Alan Dundes in the
American Folklore Newsletter(III, 1, 1974). The signers of this memoir knew and admired Archer Taylor for an
aggregate of more than one hundred and fifty years. Of him we can state, and except for
convention it might have been enough: Archer Taylor, a good man, a warm friend, a great
scholar -about whom can one say more?
ALBERT C. BAUGH
B. J. WHITING, Chairman
Scope and Content
Correspondence of other scholars to Taylor, offprints, reviews, and miscellaneous
List of Contents
Box Box 2, item 1.
Correspondence of other scholars to Professor Taylor consisting of about 40 letters and 3 postcards.
Box Box 1, item 2.
One (1) folder containing about 25 published reviews by Professor Taylor.
Box Box 2, item 3.
One (1) packet of miscellaneous materials.
Offprints, reviews, notices, etc, by other scholars collected by Professor Taylor on the subject of folklore.
Box Box 1, item 4a.
-- English language, about 60 items.
Box Box 2, item 4b.
-- German language, about 70 items.
Box Box 1, item 4c.
-- Other languages, about 50 items.