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Friday, February 11, 2022

Humphrey - The Good Saint Valentine - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Legendary tales of saints in early Christian times are plentiful, but what is known about both Saint Valentine and the development of the holiday are fairly consistent.  Much less is known about today's author, Grace Humphrey, who published many books in the early 20th century.  Let's look at what she wrote first, plus a drawing of the youthful saint.  (No illustrations from early days exist.  Religious or stained glass versions make him look way older than I picture this man who valued love.  I chose another that's common, but also by the prolific "A. Nony Mous.")


Whether you like poems, flowers, or modern day cards and "sweets for the sweet", this gives you a bit of legendary background on a holiday that is certainly commercialized, but also would be popular even without buying a thing.

I mentioned at the beginning little is known about the author, Grace Humphrey.  Perhaps genealogical information could be found, but that lets us know only a facts view of a woman whose many works tried to present both what facts could be found AND some of the spirit of her subjects.  Her list of works at Goodreads lets me guess she was from Illinois with possibly eastern European roots.  In a day when book covers didn't carry author photos, she seems to have preferred to let her work speak for itself.

Speaking of her works, Stories of the World's Holidays, is on my shelf in a sturdy brown reprint from Gale Research.  They reprinted many early books of interest to storytellers, so if you see them, don't let the boring appearance stop you.

At one time while freelancing I worked for the local publisher, Gale, back then called Gale Research.  Like many publishers they've become part of a larger publisher, in this case Cengage.  Mergers happen and tax laws on a publisher's "backlist" all led to dropping their republishing old classics like today's book, Stories of the World's Holidays.  The Public Domain was enriched by those backlist classics.


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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