What is folk culture? What distinguishes true folk creations from the cultural hybrids of commerce and popular innovation? To clarify this muddled situation and to provide clear standards and visual examples for the study and appreciation of a broad range of objects, Henry Glassie has written this detailed examination of material folk culture in the United States. He isolates American material culture—that segment of our culture that embodies the people's plans, methods, and reasons for producing things that can be seen and touched—and discusses methods for determining whether an object is truly folk—as opposed, say, to merely popular—by examining its form, construction, and use.
The book represents the first attempt to compare different kinds of material folk culture, including architecture, tools, and cookery, to detect common patterns and, in doing so, challenges conventional views of both folk culture and American culture.
Apology and Acknowledgment
—Folk Culture and Folklore
—Patterns of Folk and Popular Interaction
Patterns within Regions
Causes of Regional Patterns
—American Indian Culture
—Urban Folk Culture
—General American Patterns
"Art historians will have to take notice of this study of folklore as broad cultural pattern. Using selected examples to show how patterns operate, he draws from diverse areas: architecture (the section on barns is particularly well done), tools, ethnic cookery, small boats, and many other forms. Careful definitions and a scholarly approach to a hitherto obscure subject are the book's greatest values."—Choice
"This book is a must item for the serious student of American culture. It has more important things to say about its basic topic of folk architecture than any other work to date."—New York Geographical Review