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Friday, November 6, 2020

McClure - "Pat Was 'Forninst the Government' " - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This election week has led to some calling us the United States of Anxiety.  In looking at how divided the U.S. has been, only two other times seem comparable, when our Colonial ancestors revolted from England and during the election of Abraham Lincoln leading to a war that went by several names.  In the North it was the War of Rebellion and in the South it was called the War of Northern Aggression.  Obviously it was a matter of viewpoint.  Only later did it become called the Civil War.

I do a lot of programs about that war with many names, telling it from the viewpoint of a Michigan family that ran an Underground Railroad Station and the two young men of that family who fought in Michigan infantries.  My next scheduled presentation as Liberetta Lerich Green will be at the Oxford Public Library on January 29 at 2 p.m. to a limited audience with it streamed to the community.  It's an interesting location as Liberetta and several of her family are buried in the Oxford Cemetery.

Because I was thinking about Lincoln and his own election, I went to a book of Lincoln's Own Yarns and StoriesAlexander McClure is only listed as the editor (referring to himself as Colonel A.K. McClure), but he obviously put in a lot of work to preserve Lincoln's "yarns and stories."  McClure has a town in Pennsylvania named after him.  He was a journalist, adjutant general in the War, lawyer, and, at times a politician.  His life had ups, downs (including being wiped out financially in the stock market), and twists and turns, but Lincoln and the war fascinated him enough that he wrote about them several times.  

Today's story goes back to Lincoln's second election and brings a touch of humor to the idea of elections.

I trust my Canadian and Irish friends managed to laugh at Lincoln's knitting together that yarn.

While prowling McClure's book I came across a birthday card from a few years back from fellow library staff at White Lake Township Library which I saved and used as a bookmark.  It does put the tension of the past week into, if not perspective, at least provides a further bit of humor.




Grab your humor wherever you can.  Since my birthday was also this past week, it seems appropriate that I found and again enjoyed that card including all the comments from the staff.  

Until next week's blog, stay well and find at least one reason to smile each day.


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 the late 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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