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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Hale - Peterkins Celebrate the Fourth - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

I went looking to find stories about fireworks as many locations have canceled them this year.  Instead I found many stories about a greater than usual amount of individuals setting them off (often illegally) along with gunshots.  Since those stories would be possibly inappropriate for re-publishing or telling, I started to check my own collection.  Like a firework exploding in the air I was delighted to discover America's own "noodleheads", Lucretia Hale's delightful Peterkin family, celebrated the Fourth of July in true Peterkin fashion.

For those who might need reminding, the cast of characters includes Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin, their youngest sons just known as "the little boys" and their friends; the older, well educated (but clueless) sons, Solomon John and Agamemnon; daughter, Elizabeth Eliza, of approximately the same age; and their neighbors, the Bromwicks.  Their Hired Girl, Amanda, is given most of the holiday off, and the sensibility of "the lady from Philadelphia" is also absent.  Since this is 1876, here's the Philadelphia Centennial at Independence Hall.
Independence Hall Centennial Celebration July 4, 1876
The Peterkins had earlier in the book visited the lady from Philadelphia at the Centennial exposition.  Maybe that's why, in this story the lady "was not well, and her doctor had prescribed quiet."  There's not much quiet in this story.  The family seems determined to have every form of Independence Day insanity.  There's even the fire engines which on a normal day here in small towns are part of a parade.  There's no official parade, but cannons and bells and chaos aplenty.  It's enough to make whatever is happening near you seem tame.
Leave it to the Peterkin family to find a way to make it memorable.

Of course this blog is also viewed by storytelling friends abroad.  This year t-shirt makers all over the internet have had fun with a British view of our holiday saying variations on this theme.

While looking for a good graphic of that bit of cheek in the "mother tongue" I found the perfect response.
Stay safe, but have fun over this unusual holiday weekend.
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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