Monday, February 5, 2018

Resources: Six websites for traditional stories

The internet can be a dark wood of information. You know what you want is out there but don't know how to even begin to look for it so you wander off the path, get lost, and give up. I'd like to share some of the online resources I find most useful in the hopes that you will find them just as wonderful and have your own moments of illumination in the woods.

Here are six sites I use regularly when I'm digging into traditional stories. Each offers me something a little bit different but I find every one inspiring and useful. Be warned, they are rabbit holes; once you start digging it's really easy to keep going and find some new, unexpected and unasked for treasure. Without further ado and in no particular order, I give you six sites that help me be a better storyteller and folklorist.

  1. Csenge Zalka's Multicolored Diary
    Csenge is a talented storyteller and excellent folklorist. Her blog digs into more obscure folktales from around the world with intelligence, clarity and a healthy dash of humor. The search function works well, so if you're looking for stories on a particular theme, it will help. She doesn't always include the text of the story, so you may need to refer to a book but her bibliographic information is terrific. Her tagging system alone can keep you occupied for days. 
  2. The Internet Sacred Text Library.
    A fairly comprehensive site covering world sacred texts, ranging from religious books to myths to folk and fairy tales. What I have found most useful is their archive of scanned books. Many are very hard to find elsewhere. The site was established in 1999 and isn't particularly modern in its look or usability, but there is material available here that can be hard to find elsewhere. The search function (the giant question mark in the middle of the page (as I said, not modern design) lets you find just about anything you want, though there may be quite a bit to sort through in response to your query.
  3. Sur La Lune Fairy Tales.
    Rather than a broad collection, Sur La Lune is a deep one. They offer annotated versions of 49 fairy tales that then lead to hundreds of variants. You can also buy all kinds of neat fairy tale related items and books here (I don't usually recommend stuff for sale, but they have some really nifty things). The annotations will help you understand where the stories come from and how they came to be as they are. The associated blog offers book reviews of new fairy tale collections. 
  4. Karen Chace's Story Bug.Karen Chace is another talented storyteller who is very generous with her research. She publishes her blog monthly and each post covers a wide range of topics with stories that fit into the theme. For instance, her January post covers empathy, Chinese New Year, (for which she lists 14 world folktales about roosters since we are entering the year of the Rooster), National Pig day (seven stories), husband appreciation day (five stories) and more. Using her search function you can find stories on almost any topic you desire, along with links to the full text of the story.
  5. Professor Ashliman's Folklinks Archive and Folktexts
    These pages aren't pretty but there is a library's-worth of information here. Dr. Ashliman was a folklore professor at University of Pittsburgh and these pages are the resources he developed for his students. He retired a number of years ago, but the pages are archived.
    Folklinks is a set of links to folklore and related resources around the web. It is now a bit dated but may link you to material you hadn't found before, especially if you're looking for international resources.
    Folktexts lists stories by tale type. When you click on a given tale type you find links to stories related to the tale type. It's a great way to spend a rainy afternoon or three.
  6. Terri Windling's Myth and Moor blog.
    Terri Windling is a wonderful and respected writer of fantasy fiction. Her work is based in a deep understanding of traditional material, particularly that of the British Isles. Her blog is different from the other resources here, in that she shares information about her creative process and what inspires her. I have found it inspiring and helpful when I need a reminder that folk material is deep, meaningful, and others love it at least as much as I do.

I hope you enjoy these resources. Please share your favorite traditional material online resources!

(c)2018 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. This is great! And do you know about Tim Sheppard's website? Large, sprawling, been around a long time, lots of info:


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