Folk-Lore from Adams County Illinois - 1st Edition 1935

Folk-Lore from Adams County Illinois - 1st Edition 1935

225.00 350.00

Folk-Lore from Adams County Illinois
by Hyatt, Harry Middleton

First Edition 1935 | | Published by The Alma Egan Hyatt Foundation

Octavo, xvi, 723 pages plus one page advertisement, bound in publisher's black cloth covered boards lettered in gilt on spine. Previous owner's name, moderate rubbing and wear, damp staining, numerous small losses and tears, some of which have been repaired, binding rubbed and soiled, marginalia in pencil, else in good condition.

Folklore From Adams County Illinois" contains hundreds of simple spells, folk-magical beliefs, herb-based medical remedies, riddling rhymes, and folkloric tales. It consists of 10,949 entries on 723 pages, including an index. It was self-published by Hyatt in two editions, the first in 1935, and the second in 1965. Both editions were released under the imprint "Memoirs of the Alma C. Hyatt Foundation." Alma C. Hyatt was his wife. The second edition contains a lengthy illustrated appreciation of the then-late Alma Hyatt, in which Mr. Hyatt explains to the world what an inspiration she was to him.

The section of "Folklore From Adams County Illinois" that deals with witchcraft is the most useful part of the book. It is comprised of brief quotes from unnamed local folks to whom Hyatt assigned cultural ascriptions (e.g. "Irish," "German," "Negro," etc.) so that one can place the speakers in the traditions from which they come. Unfortunately, as Hyatt explains in his preface, the material was edited and "omission of Negro dialect means that colored folk speak the same language as their white neighbors" with the exception of "a small vocabulary peculiar to themselves [of which] examples occur frequently in the text." Even more inexplicably, all "lore definitely Jewish was excluded [and] the same is true of three or four Indian [Native American] sayings." Furthermore, Greeks and Italians living in the area, according to Hyatt, "are newcomers, and have not been approached for folk-lore." Such egregious editorial deletions blemish what would otherwise be a balanced representation of folk-magical practices in Illinois at that time, but if one keeps these exclusions in mind, "Folklore From Adams County Illinois" is still a valuable document. The lengthy section on African-American hoodoo spells, and the unique quality of these spells, is what led Hyatt to undertake his later, more massive, work of hoodoo folk-magic collection in the South.

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