Occupational Folklore

Brand Quilt

Brand Quilt, Edith Gentry. Utah State Archives, 1997.

What is Folklore?

Folklore is the things people make, say, do, and believe. These include legends, jokes, clothing, dance, superstitions, food recipes, holiday customs, jump rope rhymes, quilts, and so much more.

Usually, these examples are learned and shared in everyday, casual interactions, not formal settings. Additionally, they are often referred to as being traditional. Tradition is the transmission and sharing of culture. The term “culture” refers to a group or community, sharing common experiences that shape the way its members understand the world. Your culture may be informed by your race, national origin, gender, class, occupation, religion, or other affiliations you claim. In other words, folklore is “informal, traditional culture” (McNeill, 16).

Iron Vase with Roses

Iron Vase with Roses, Mark Schramm. Utah State Archives, 2002.

Occupational Folklore

Folklore occurs in many settings and with different groups such as with family, friends, and sports teams at home, during school, and while driving. Work is another place where folklore exists. This type of folklore, known as Occupational Folklore, includes the various skills, techniques, expressions, and customs performed within a certain line of work.

Engaging in and practicing Occupational Folklore often produces physical artifacts. Known as Occupational Folk Art, these items and the processes employed to make them are one of the many types of Folk Art celebrated at The Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts.

Gladys Oliver

Navajo Artist Gladys Oliver with Reversible Saddle Cinch. Utah State Archives, 2001.

Folk Art 

What is folk art? No two people seem to agree, which may be because many types of creative practices have been categorized as folk art by art dealers and academics. However, by using common materials and concepts to create art that communicates messages about who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going, folk art is always representative of its context and reflects a particular community’s cultural values. As a result, knowledge and experience allow folk artists to elevate the everyday. 

At Chase Home Museum, we focus on this intersection of culture and creativity, showcasing the skills that are practiced at a local or regional level by communities with a shared sense of identity. Cultural groups have their own values and history. The art forms and creative expressions of these communities allow them to remember, renew, and reimagine this history.

Folk arts may seem commonplace, but they are never ordinary. They represent a deep human urge to create and tell stories about ourselves.

Occupational Folklore