Arthur Palmer Hudson, a professor at the University of Mississippi, founded the nonprofit Mississippi Folklore Society on 24 May 1927 to study the folklore and folklife of the South. The society remained small, comprised primarily of university students, and became dormant when Hudson left Mississippi in 1930.
George Boswell revived the society in 1966 “to study folklore in general and to collect and preserve specimens of Mississippi folklore, ranging from proverbs and riddles to art objects and the process of their manufacture.” At its first meeting, on 10 December, Hudson served as honorary president and Boswell held the post of acting president. Membership was open to anyone who paid the three-dollar annual fee, and by 1972 more than 315 people had joined.
Bylaws put in place in 1968 declared that the society could not lobby or hold shares of stock and existed for the “research, compilation, and publication of pamphlets and books.” A journal would be published “to promote folklore collection.” Elected officers included a president, a vice president/president-elect, another vice president, a secretary-treasurer, and a council of five or six members. In addition, the society had an appointed executive secretary and editor. Each year, the society hosted an annual meeting that featured lectures and presentations of folklore, sometimes including film and music. The president’s primary duty was to organize and host this gathering, which alternated between northern-central and southern-central Mississippi. The last meeting of the Mississippi Folklore Society took place in April 1992 at the Old Capitol building in Jackson.
The society first published the quarterly Mississippi Folklore Register in 1967. Each issue featured an introductory note from the editor, a list of the year’s officers, and reviews, essays, studies, and photographs of southern culture. In 1989 the Register moved from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg to Delta State University, which copublished the journal. By 1994 the journal had changed its name to Mississippi Folklife and was published biannually by the Folklore Society and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. The Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts helped fund the journal. The journal ceased print publication in 1999 but was revived online in 2015 by the Mississippi Arts Commission under the editorship of Jennifer Joy Jameson.
- Andrew Badger, Mississippi Folklore Society Newsletter (4 December 1972)
- Jacob Threadgill, Jackson Clarion-Ledger (2 November 2015)
- Mississippi Folklore Society Bylaws (1968)
- Mississippi Folklife, vols. 27, 28, 29 (1994)
- Mississippi Folklife website, mississippifolklife.org