Most of the recordings on our website were made by academics or students of folklore studies, collecting traditions from everyday people for research purposes and in some cases to ‘save’ what were believed to be dying customs. Many recordings were also made by skilled amateur researchers and their efforts were highly influential in the development of fieldwork methods. We call all these researchers ‘fieldworkers’ because their aim was to document traditional behaviours, customs, oral and material traditions in their natural settings, such as the family home, folk clubs, places of work, etc.
Recorded sound fieldwork revolutionised folklore collecting, since researchers previously had to rely on written notes compiled during or after their field trips; even the most carefully transcribed notes were subject to biases or mis-transcriptions, whereas a sound recording allowed researchers to listen back to their contributors again and again, finding new insight each time.
Below you’ll see a selection of the most noteworthy fieldworkers whose recordings are available on this website. This list is just the start however, and we’ll continue adding to it as the website develops.