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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Beecher - The Anxious Leaf - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Long before the late Leo Buscaglia's classic look at life and death from the viewpoint of a leaf in 1982's The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, today's little story from the viewpoint of "The Anxious Leaf" appeared.  It's in an early 20th century series of textbooks by E.C. Hartwell I find most useful, Story Hour Readings, in this case for the Fourth Year.  There is a bit of suggestions at the end for ways to use it in class added by Doctor Hartwell, but the story originates with Henry Ward Beecher.  The book gives the simplest of author's biography, suitable for a child, but his own life seems right out of today's news and I'll give more after the story.  I'll also add ways to use it.
It's a simple enough story and I like to include the sort of supplementary books a One Room School Teacher might include in her classroom when doing my program on One Room Schools as I did this past week, but it has many uses beyond that.

Of course teachers like to assign leaf identification as it's an easy assignment at this time of year.  I'm a longtime member of the Arbor Day Foundation and believe strongly in their goals of planting trees where they are so needed.  As a result I recommend purchasing their pocket field guides, "What Tree Is That?", which now even has an iPhone app. (I hope they soon do one for Android.)

Also colorful autumn leaves have a multitude of craft uses.  Google "leaf crafts" for more than you could possibly use.  There are crafts all the way from preschoolers to adult.  I like to mention how the One Room School Teachers would give the little ones a simple craft related to what they were studying.  I even show a large early 20th century book of "manual seatwork" with the kind of simple crafts we all should experience in school or in after-school activities.

Of course fallen leaves are useful also to gardeners.  The "Old Farmer's Almanac" urges using them instead of sending them to a landfill.

Beyond the One Room School I will soon be back doing classroom residencies and work with homeschoolers.  This little story is a perfect introduction to getting into the mind of an inanimate object and creating an adventure or even a biography.

Now speaking of biographies, I promised the author would fit right into today's news: People magazine would notice his famous family (his father, Lyman Beecher, was the best-known evangelist of his day, while his brothers and sisters were also prominent, especially his famous sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin); he was a popular public speaker beyond the pulpit; he was an abolitionist, which today continues in the crusade against human trafficking; supported the suffragists and temperance, which could be called women's issues; then came a scandal worthy of the "Me, Too" movement from which he was officially exonerated.  Take a look at least at Wikipedia, but you should also search for Henry Ward Beecher quotes.  There are well over 300 and many are illustrated in a style worthy of inspirational posters.

Of course my favorite is
I hope you feel the same about keeping alive the many stories that are part of the Public Domain.
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This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!
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