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TitleThe Paradox of Mormon Folklore
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1976
AuthorsWilson, William A.
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
KeywordsFolklore; Legends; Mormonism; Pop Folklore; Three Nephites

In the 130 years since the word “folklore” was coined, folklorists have been trying unsuccessfully to decide what the word means. I shall not solve the problem here. Yet if we are to do business with each other, we must come to some common understanding of terms. Briefly, I consider folklore to be the unofficial part of our culture. When a Sunday School teacher reads to his class from an approved lesson manual, he is giving them what the Correlation Committee at least would call official religion; but when he illustrates the lesson with an account of the Three Nephites which he learned from his mother, he is giving them unofficial religion. Folklore, then, is that part of our culture that is passed through time and space by the process of oral transmission(by hearing and repeating) rather than by institutionalized means of learning or by the mass media.