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Gladys-Marie Fry papers

Identifier: MSS 628

Scope and Contents

The Gladys-Marie Fry papers contain correspondence, drafts, publications, photographs, slides, research proposals, posters, newsclippings, and other materials relating to her extensive research of African-American folklore, quilts, and other topics.


  • Creation: 1888 - 2010


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

The material is stored off site. Please request 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

Biographical / Historical

The great-granddaughter of an enslaved seamstress and quilter, Gladys-Marie Fry (1931-2015) was a leading authority on African American textiles and Professor of Folklore and English at the University of Maryland. Fry earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in American history from Howard University and her Ph.D. in folklore from Indiana University in 1967. She previously taught at Sonoma State University, University of California Los Angeles, and the Indiana University South Bend. She is the recipient of multiple awards and grants, including Ford Fellowships (1961-1962, 1962-1963, 1963), National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships (1970, 1979, and 1984), a Danforth Fellowship in Black Studies (1971), a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (1983), and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1982). Through these fellowships, she collected legends about men who allegedly sold their souls to the devil in exchange for magical powers and researched extensively testimonies of survivors of enslaved African Americans. Through her Fulbright Research Fellowship, she traveled to Trinidad to trace the roots of African iconography used in textiles and how they evolved and were retold in the New World. She conducted field work in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa. She is the author of "Night Riders in Black Folk History" (1975) and "Stitched From the Soul: Slave Quilting in the Ante-Bellum South" (approximately 1990) as well as a number of articles and book chapters. She began work as a museum curator in the 1980s and curated museum exhibitions at the Smithsonian Instition's Renwick Gallery, Anacostia Museum, Fisk University, Ohio Historical Society, Sully Plantation, Mathery Gallery at Case Western Reserve University, the Museum of American Folk Art in New York, and others, and was a consultant for exhibits and television programs across the nation.


approximately 132 Linear Feet (132 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is heavily intellectually arranged into the following series: Series I: Biographical Series II: Correspondence Series III: Professional Activity Series IV: Teaching Materials Series V: Sound Recordings Series VI: Visual Materials Series VII: Research Materials Series VIII: Miscellaneous

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Cora Fry in 2017 initially to MSU Museum. The collection was transferred to MSU Special Collections later in 2017.

Separated Materials

The following materials have been cataloged separately for enhanced discovery and access:

Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes Revised, 1931 The Bead Forum, Newsletter of the Society of Bead Researchers, Nos. 1-31, 1982-1987 Best-loved Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes including Many of the Amish, 1970 Black Ethnic Collectibles, 1987-1989 The Hidden History of Washington, DC A Guide for Black Folks, The Reclamation Project, 1996 The New England Cook Book of Fine Old Recipes, 1936 Recipes and Reminiscences of New Orleans, 1971 Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin, 1960, 1963, 1966, 1970 Washington Gas Light Company "Festive Foods," 1968

Description and Content Warning

Descriptions and content within this collection may use historic terminology that is now considered offensive and describe extremely disturbing acts of racial terror and oppression.

Processing Information

Lydia Tang, Matthew Brazier, Taylor Peterson, Zoe Russell, and Sharon Herring processed this collection in 2019.

Dr. Fry's quilts were donated by the Fry family to the Smithsonian while her archival collection came to Michigan State University.

Sources consulted in creating this finding aid include:

Barnes, Bart. "Gladys-Marie Fry, folklorist of black history, dies at 84." The Washington Post. January 5, 2016.

White, Marilyn M., "Gladys-Marie Fry (1931-2015), Journal of American Folklore, vol. 130, no. 518, Fall 2017, p. 473-474.

Promotion and tenure information on colleagues at the University of Maryland Department of English from 1981 was deaccessioned for confidentiality.

The following photocopied research material was deaccessioned due to poor preservation condition:

Abrahams, Roger D. "Storytelling Events: Wake Amusements and the Structure of Nonsense on St. Vincent." Journal of American Folklore 95, no. 378 (October-December 1982): 389-414.

Abrahams, Roger D. "Trickster, the Outrageous Hero." In Our Living Traditions: An Introduction to American Folklore, ed. Tristam Potter Coffin. New York: Basic Books, Inc. 1968.

Abrahams, Roger D. and Alan Dundes. "on Elephantasy and Elephanticide." The Psychology Review 56 (1969): 225-241.

Ainsworth, Catherine Harris. "Polish-American Church Legends." New York Folklore Quarterly 30, no. 4: 286-294.

Alho Olli. "The Religion of the Slaves." Folklore Fellows Communications, no. 217, (1980).

Allen, Barbara. "Personal Experience Narratives: Use and Meaning in Interaction." Folklore and Mythology Studies 2 (Spring 1978): 5-7.

Andrews, William Page. Goethe's Key to Faust: A Scientific Basis for Religion and Morality and for a Solution of the Enigma of Evil. Port Washington: Kennikat Press Inc., 1925.

Arciniegas, Germán. "Appointment with Necromancy." In Latin America: A Cultural History. New York: Knopf, 1966.

Avary, Myrta Lockett. "Back to Voodooism." In Dixie After the War. New York: Douledat, Page and Company, 1906.

Bauman, Richard. "The La Have Island General Store: Sociability and Verbal Art in a Nova Scotia Community." Journal of American Folklore 85, (1972): 330-343.

Bauman, Richard. "Verbal Art as Performance." American Anthropologist 77 (1975): 290-311.

Bauman, Richard and Joel Sherzer, eds. Exploration in the Ethnography of Speaking. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

Barnes, Daniel R. "Some Functional Horror Stories on the Kansas University Campus." Southern Folklore Quarterly 30, no. 4 (December 1966): 305-312.

Basgoz, Ilhan. "The Tale-Singer and His Audience." In Folklore Performance and Communication, edited by Dan Ben-Amos and Kenneth S. Goldstein, 143-203. Berlin: The Hauge: Mouton Publishers, 1975.

Beck, Ervin. "Telling the Tale in Belize." Journal of American Folklore 93, no. 370 (October-December 1980): 417-434.

Beck, Jane C. "The Implied Obeah Man." Western Folklore 35, no. 1 (January 1976): 23-33.

Ben-Amos, Dan. "Two Benin Storytellers." In African Folklore, edited by Richard. M Doson, 103-114. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972.

Berlin, Ira and Herbert G. Gutman. "Natives and Immigrants, Free Men and Slaves: Urban Workingmen in the Antebellum American South." The American Historical Review 88, no. 5 (December 1983): 1175-1200.

Bethke, Robert D. "Storytelling at an Adirondack Inn." Western Folklore 35, (1976): 123-139.

Biebuyck-Goetz, Brunhilde. "'This is the Dyin' Trugh': Mechanisms of Lying." Journal of the Folklore Institute 14, no. 1-2 (1977): 73-95.

Blackburn, Stuart H. "Oral Performance: Narrative and Ritual in a Tamil Tradition." Journal of American Folklore 94, no. 372 (April-June 1981): 207-227.

Blake, John B. "Women and Medicine in Ante-Bellum America." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 39, no. 2, (March-April 1965): 99-123.

Bremond, Claude. "The Morphology of the French Fairy Tale: The Ethical Model." In Patterns in Oral Literature, edited by Heda Jason and Dimitri Segal, 49-76. Berlin: The Hauge: Mouton Publishers, 1977.

Brown, Letitia Woods. "Appendix Two." In Free Negroes in the District of Columbia 1790-1846. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Brown, Letitia Woods. "Residence Patterns of Negroes in the District of Columbia, 1800-1860". In Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D.C. 1969-1970, edited by Francis Coleman Rosenberger. Washington D.C.: The Society, undated.

Burton, Dorothy Jean. "The Compact with the Devil in the Middle-English." California Folklore Quarterly 5, no. 2 (April 1946).

Carey, George. A Faraway Time and Place. New York: Arno Press, 1977.

Carey, George. "The Storyteller's Art and the Collector's Intrusion." In Folklore Today: A Festschrift for Richard M. Dorson, edited by Linda Degh, Henry Glassie, and Felix J. Oinas, 81-91. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1976.

Charters, Samuel. Robert Johnson. New York: Oak Publications, 1973.

Chatman, Samuel L. "'There are No Slaves in France': A Re-Examination of Slave Laws in Eighteenth Century France." The Journal of Negro History 85, no. 3 (Summer, 2000): 144-153.

Clements, William M. "Personal Narrative, the Interview Context, and the Question of Tradition." Western Folklore 39, no. 2 (April 1980): 106-112.

Clephane, Walter C. "The Local Aspect of Slavery in the Distict of Columbia." Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Compiled by The Committee on Publication and the Recording Secretary, Vol. 3. 1900.

Conner, Maynard C. and William K. Bing. "An Economic and Social Survey of Patrick County." University of Virginia Record Extension Series 21, no. 6 (January 1937).

Copland, Charles. "Extracts from the Diary of Charles Copland." William and Mary Courage Quarterly 14, no. 4, (1906): 44-50; 217-230.

Cothman, Kay L. "Talking Trash in the Okefenokee Swamp Rim, Georgia." Journal of American Folklore 87 (1974): 340-356.

Crowley, Daniel J. "I Could Talk Old-Story Good: Creativity in Bahamian Folklore." University of California Folklore Studies, no. 17 (1966).

Davis, Richard Beale. "The Devil in Virginia in the 17th Century." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 65, no. 2 (April 1957).

Dew, Thomas. "Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences Between the Sexes, and on the Position and Influence of Women in Society." Southern Literary Messenger 1, no. 9, (May 1835): 493-512.

Dorson, Richard M. "The Legend of the Missing Pajamas and other Sad Sagas." Journal of the Folklore Institute 14, no. 1-2 (1977): 115-124.

Dundes, Alan. "On the Psychology of Legend." In American Folk Legend, edited by Wayland D. Hand, 21-36. Oakland: University of California Press, 1971.

Duncan, John Donald. "Servitude and Slavery in Colonial South Carolina 1670-1776." PhD diss., Emory University, 1972.

Ellis, Bill. "'Ralph and Rudy': The Audience's Role in Recreating a Camp Legend." Western Folklore 41, no. 3 (July 1982): 169-191.

Feldstein, Stanley. "Life on Plantation - Area of Dehumanimation." In Once A Slave: The Slaves' View of Slavery. New York: William Morrow and Company Inc., 1971.

"Female Education." Southern Literary Messenger 6, Issue 6, (1840): 451-456.

Fleming, John E. "Taking Stock of Afro-American Material Culture." History News: American Association for State and Local History 40, no. 2 (February 1985).

Freilich, Morris. "Levi-Strauss' Myth of Method." In Patterns in Oral Literature, edited by Heda Jason and Dimitri Segal, 223-249. Berlin: The Hauge: Mouton Publishers, 1977.

Gay, Dorothy Ann. "The Tangled Skein of Romanticism and Violence in the Old South: The Southern Response to Abolitionism and Feminism, 1830-1861." PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1975.

Gayle, Sarah. "Journal of Mrs. Gov. John Gayle." Alabama Quarterly 5, (1943): 159-187.

Georges, Robert A. "Do Narrators Really Digress? A Reconsideration of 'Audience Assides' in Narrating." Western Folklore 40, no. 3 (July 1981): 245-252.

Georges, Robert A. "Feedback and Response in Storytelling." Western Folklore 38, no. 2 (April 1979): 104-110.

Georgia Writers Project. Drums and Shadows: Survival Studies among the Georgia Coastal Negroes. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1940.

Gibbs, Tyson, Kathleen Cargill, Leslie Sue Liberman, and Elizabeth Reitz. "Nutrition in a Slave Population: An Anthropological Examination." Medical Anthropology 4, Issue 2 (Spring 1980): 175-262.

Goodwin, Thelma. "The Devil in American Folklore." Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 26, no. 2 (June 1960).

Gordon, Raymond L. Interviewing: Strategy, Techniques, and Tactics. Homewood: The Dorsey Press, 1969.

Greenberg, Michael. "Gentlemen Slaveholders: The Social Outlook of the Virginia Planter Class." PhD diss., Rutgers University, 1972.

Gutierrez, C. Paige. "The Narrative Style of Marshall Ward, Jack Tale-Teller." North Carolina Folklore Journal 26, no. 2 (September 1978): 111-126.

Gwyndaf, Robin. "The Prose Narrative Repertoire of a Passive Tradition Bearer in a Welsch Rural Community: Gene Analysis and Formation." In Folk Narrative Research: Some Papers Presented at the VI Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, edited by Juha Pentikainen and Tuula Jurrikka, 283-293. Helsinki: Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura, 1976.

Hall, Jane Masi. "Homer Spriggs: Chronicler of Brummetts Creek." Journal of the Folklore Institute 14, no. 1-2 (1977): 31-49.

Hazzard-Gordon, Katrina. "Dancing Under the Lash" Jookin': The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.

Herskovits, Melville. The Myth of the Negro Past. New York: Harper and Brother Publisher, 1941.

Hillig, Otto. "Magic in Primitive and Modern Society." Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 18, no. 1 (March 1952).

Hill, Judith Parks America. A History of Henry County, Virginia, with Biographical Sketches of its Most Prominent Citizens... Oldest Families. Baltimore: Regional Publishing Co., 1976.

Hudson, Larry E. To Have and to Hold: Slave Work and Family Life in the Antebellum South Carolina. Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1997.

Hrdlickova, Vena. "The Professional Training of Chinese Storytellers and the Storytellers' Guilds." Archiv Orientalni 33 (1965): 225-247.

Hymes, Dell. "Breakthrough into Performance." In Folklore: Performance and Communication, edited by Dan Ben-Amos and Kenneth S. Goldstein, 11-74. Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1975

Jansen, William Hugh. "A Narrator: His Repertoire in Memory and in Performance." In Folk Narrative Research: Some Papers Presented at the VI Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, edited by Juha Pentikainen and Tuula Jurrikka, 294-301. Helsinki: Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura, 1976.

Jason, Heda. "A Model for Narrative Structure in Oral Literature." In Patterns in Oral Literature, edited by Heda Jason and Dimitri Segal, 99-139. Berlin: The Hauge: Mouton Publishers, 1977.

Johnson, Mildred and Theresa Delsoin. "Rose Dawn is Enslaved." In Malindy's Freedom: The Story of a Slave Family, 13-31. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2005.

Jones, Louis C. "The Devil in York State." New York Folklore Quarterly 8, no. 1 (1952).

Kalcik, Susan. "' Ann's Gynecologist or the time I was Almost Raped': Personal narratives in Women's Rap Groups." Journal of American Folklore 88, (1975): 3-11.

Keller, Herbert A., ed. "Diary of James D. Davidson." Journal of Southern History 1, (1935): 345-477.

Kruger, E.T. "Negro Religious Expression." The American Journal of Sociology 38, no. 1 (July 1932).

Labov, William and Joshua Waletzky. "Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience." In Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts: Proceedings of the 1966 Annual Spring Meeting of the American Ethnological Society, edited by June Helm, 12-44. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1967.

Latrobe, Benjamin Henry. The Virginia Journals of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1795-1798. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977.

Leary, James P. "White Guys' Stries of the Night Street." Journal of the Folklore Institute 14, no. 1-2 (1977): 59-71.

Lefcourt, Charles R. "Goethe As A Folklorist." Keystone Folklore Quarterly 12, no. 3 (Fall 1967).

Lewis, Smaella S. African American Art and Artists. Oakland: University of California Press, 1978.

Limon, Jose E. "Legendary, Metafolklore, and Performance: A Mexican-American Example." Western Folklore 42, no. 3 (July 1983): 191-208.

Lockwood, Yvonne R. "Death of a Priest: The Folk History of a local Event as Told in Personal Experience Narratives." Journal of the Folklore Institute 14, no. 1-2 (1977): 97-113.

Lynch, James J. "The Devil in the Writings of Irvin, Hawthorne, and Poe." New York Folklore Quarterly 8, no. 2, (1952).

Manigault, Ann. "Extracts from the Journal of Mrs. Ann Manigault." South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 20, (1919): 128-146; 204-212.

"Marriage and Divorce." Southern Quarterly Review 26, (1854): 332-335

McCullen, J. T. Jr., and Jerl Tanner. "The Devil Outwitted in Folklore and Literature." North Carolina Folklore 17, no. 1 (May 1969).

Melder, Keith. "Ladies Bountiful: Organized Women's Benevolence in Early 19th-Century America." New York History 58, (July 1967): 231-254.

Miller, Lynn F. and Sally S. Swenson. Lives and Works: Talks with Women Artists. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, 1981.

Mullen, Patrick B. "The Tall Tale Style of a Texas Raconteur." In Folk Narrative Research: Some Papers Presented at the VI Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, edited by Juha Pentikainen and Tuula Juurikka, 262-272. Helsinki: Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura, 1976.

"Northern and Southern Slavery." Southern Literary Messenger 7, (April 1841): 314-315.

"Notes and Queries." Western Folklore 17, no. 3 (July 1958).

Oinas, Felix J. "Spirits, Devils, and Fugitive Soldiers." Journal of American Folklore 76, no. 301 (July-September 1963).

Otto, John Solomon and Augustus Marion Burns III. "Black Folks and Poor Buckras: Archaeological Evidence of Slave Conditions on an Antebellum Plantation." Journal of Black Studies 18, Issue 2 (December 1983): 185-200.

Padgett, James A., ed. "A Yankee School Teacher in Louisiana, 1835-1837: The Diary of Caroline B. Poole." Louisiana Historical Quarterly 20, (1937): 651-679.

Palmer, Robert. "Mojo Hound." In Deep Blues. New York: The Viking Press, 1981.

Pedigo, Virginia G. and Lewis G. Pedigo. History of Patrick and Henry Counties Virginia. Baltimore: Regional Publishing Co., 1977.

Pentikäinen, Juha. "Repertoire Analysis." In Folk Narrative Research: Some Papers Presented at the VI Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, edited by Juha Pentikainen and Tuula Juurikka, 262-272. Helsinki: Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura, 1976.

Pentikäinen, Juha. "Oral Repertoire and World View: An Anthropological Study of Marina Takalo's Life History." Folklore Fellows Communications, no. 219 (1978).

Perrow, E. C. "Songs and Rhymes from the South." Journal of African Folk-Lore 25, no. 95 (April-June 1912): 137-155.

Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth. "Charles Cotesworth Pinckney's Plantation Diary, April 6-December 15, 1818." The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 41, no. 4, (Oct. 1940) 135-150.

Puckett, Newbell Niles. "Voodooism and Conjuration."In Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro, 167-310. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 2002.

Rawick, George P., ed. The American Salve: A Composite Autobiography. Westport: Greenwood Publishing, 1972.

"The Religion of the American Negro Slave: His Attitude Toward Life and Death." Journal of Negro History 3, no. 1 (January 1923).

"Religious Folk-Beliefs of Whites and Negros." Journal of Negro History 16, no. 1 (January 1931).

Robenson, John A. "Personal Narratives Reconsidered." Journal of American Folklore 94, no. 371 (January-March 1981): 58-85.

Roebuck, Haywood. "North Carolina Divorce and Alimony Petitions." North Carolina Genealogical Society 1, (April 1975): 75-90.

Roehrich, Lutz. "German Devil Tales and Devil Legends." Journal of the Folklore Institute 3, no. 7 (No date).

Stahl, Sandra K. D. "The Personal Narrative as Folklore." Journal of the Folklore Institute 14, no. 1-2 (1977): 9-30.

Stewart, Susan. "The Epistemology of the Horror Story." Journal of American Folklore 95, no. 375 (January-March 1981): 33-50.

"Texas Climate, Rivers, Lands- Buy One Who Has Traveled Extensively." DeBow's Review of the Southern and Western States 10, (June 1851): 627-645.

Titon, Jeff Todd. "The Life Story." Journal of American Folklore 93, no. 369 (July-September 1980): 276-292.

Twinning, Mary. "An Examination of African Retentions in the Folk Culture of the South Carolina and Georgia Sea Islands." PhD diss., Indiana University, 1977.

Wahlman, Maude Southwell. "The Art of Afro-American Quiltmaking: Origins, Development and Significance." PhD diss. vol. 1-3, Yale University, 1980.

Wallrich, William Jones. "Some Variants of the 'Demon Dancer.'" Western Folklore 9, no. 2, (1950).

Ward, W. H. "The Literary Unity of Ray Hick's 'Jack Tales.'" North Carolina Folklore Journal 26, no. 2 (September 1978): 127-133.

Waring, Martha A. "Savannah's Earliest Private Schoops." Georgia Historical Quarterly, Vol. 14, (1930): 324-334.

Washington, Joseph R. Jr. "Folk Religion and Negro Congregations." In Black Religion: The Negro and Christianity in the United States. Boston: Beacon press, 1964.

White, Shane and Graham White. "Slave Clothing and African-American Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries." Past and Present, no. 148 (August 1995): 149-186. Oxford University Press.

Whyte, William Foote, Learning from the Field, Sage Publications, 1984.

Wiggins, David Ken. "Sport and Popular Pastimes in the Plantation Community: The Slave Experience." PhD diss., University of Maryland, 1979.

Wiggins, William H. Jr. "The Trickster as Literary Hero." New York Folklore Quarterly 24, no. 4 (1973).

Wingfield, Marshall. Franklin Co., Va.: A History. Washington D.C.: Chesapeake Book Co., 1964.

Woods, Barbara Alley. "The Devil in Dog Form." Western Folklore 13, no. 4 (1954).

Yetman, Norman R. Voices from Slavery: 100 Authentic Slave Narratives. Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc., 1984.

Zeitlin, Steven J. "'An Alchemy of Mind': The Family Courtship Story." Western Folklore 39, no. 1 (January 1980): 17-33.

Zug, Charles G. III. "The Constructions of 'The Devil and Tom Walker': A Study of Irving's Later Use of Folklore." New York Folklore Quarterly 24, no. 4 (1968).

Finding Aid for the Gladys-Marie Fry papers
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Lydia Tang, Matthew Brazier, Taylor Peterson, Zoe Russell, and Sharon Herring
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