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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Olcott/Grierson - Burg Hill's on Fire - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This is appearing a bit early to let all able to come to Greenmead Historical Park, 20501 Newburgh Rd, Livonia, Michigan 48152 for the Saint Andrew's Society of Detroit's 170th Highland Games (yes, that's the oldest continuous games in North America!) this Saturday, August 3.  North Oakland County Storytellers officially dissolved in July, but plans to having an annual reunion telling stories each year in the Wee Bairns area of the Highland Games.  It's a delightful time for stories and Scottish heritage and as a descendant of Clan Stirling I enjoy doing it if I'm available.  In the future we'll also let this be a time to get together with longtime friends.

I've given my story here of "Assipattle and the mester stoorworm" five years ago.  It's a favorite of mine.  I also enjoy using audience participation to tell the story of "The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies."  Heather Forest did a delightful retelling of it, but it's definitely still under copyright.  I recommend it to you, but wanted to track down its Scottish roots.  I don't own Elizabeth Wilson Grierson's books, but this has made me interested.  She wrote a great many from her home in the borderland of Scotland.   A favorite author of mine, Frances Jenkins Olcott, gave a version of a tale Grierson called "The Good Housewife and Her Night Labours."  While Olcott calls it a Celtic Fairy Tale, within the story it's clearly stated as Scotland.  Scots Gaelic is mentioned enough in other books I've read that I've decided, if I was ever able to manage a trip to Scotland, I'd have to take a book along to enjoy it.

Fortunately Olcott sees to it this is easily understood and enjoyed.

You may have noticed some of the pages say Halloween.  This was anthologized in Olcott's Good Stories for Great Holidays.

By the way, my prowling for sources of "The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies" sent me prowling and I found this story instead.  Online I've found "Flummoxed" supposedly was found in Thistle and Thyme by Sorche Nic Leodhas.  It's not there, instead Leodhas included it in Heather and Broom; Tales of the Scottish Highlands.   That, too, is under copyright and Leodhas didn't always make it easy to track down her sources.  She calls it a "household story brought from Durris near Aberdeen."  Lacking the opportunity to go to the Aberdeen area, I'm happy to find this version instead of what can happen if you're foolish enough to call out for help and the helpers may be more than you can handle.  Just ask Faust about such deals!
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.
  • 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 -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - 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 .  It's not easy, but go to 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 - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
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 -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., 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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