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The Department of Folklore

The Department of Folklore embraces three centres, each focussing on a different area of folklore and folklife studies.

The Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) was originally set up in 1968 to co-ordinate diverse research in Newfoundland studies undertaken in the departments of Folklore and English, to facilitate the mutual use of common material, to organize it for research and publication, and to create a permanent record for future generations. MUNFLA is an integral part of the teaching and research activities of the Department of Folklore at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

The archive comprises extensive collections of Newfoundland and Labrador folksongs and music, folk narratives of many kinds, oral history, folk customs, beliefs and practices, childlore and descriptions of material culture. It has special collections of Newfoundland vocabulary, proverbs and riddles, and houses material for a projected linguistic atlas of the province. Newfoundland popular culture is an increasing element in MUNFLA's holdings, including commercial recordings, radio broadcasts, and recordings of local theatrical performances. MUNFLA also houses a unique collection of tape, video and manuscript collections pertaining to the traditional culture of the francophone enclave of Newfoundland's Port-au-Port Peninsula/Bay St. George region (formerly known as CEFT - Centre d'Etudes Franco-Terreneuviennes).

MUNFLA is a remarkable resource and is based on the contributions of students, faculty and other researchers for almost forty years. Graduate students are encouraged to discover its value through their work as archival assistants, and by conducting their own research with its materials.
The Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) was established in 2003 to initiate and enable music research within the academic and general community. Many of the website, CD and other media projects of MMaP focus on the rich traditional music of Newfoundland and Labrador. Graduate students in Folklore are often eligible to apply to work on these projects. Through the program of the Canada Research Chair in Ethnomusicology, the Centre promotes national and international exchange by sponsoring visiting lecturers, and organizing a lecture series as well as annual symposia or conferences. Located in the Arts and Culture Centre of St. John's, at the east end of the campus, the MMaP houses a multimedia and audio restoration studio. While it is not an archive, graduate students are welcome to use the reading room with a growing reference library and audio-visual resource.


The English Language Research Centre

The roots of the English Language Research Centre (ELRC) lie in research into Newfoundland English that was begun in the 1950s.

The Dictionary Room, located in the Arts Building, became the centre for the writing of the glossary or dictionary of the regional lexicon, and the repository of many collections. It was formally established in 1986 as the ELRC.

The Centre’s mandate is to encourage and facilitate the investigation of the English language in Newfoundland and Labrador, and to continue research in languages, place-names, and family names.

Besides providing workspace for researchers and students, the Centre houses a reference library, along with extensive collections of primary research materials.


The Faculty of Arts Digital Research Centre

The Faculty of Arts Digital Research Centre is a facility dedicated to providing faculty members and graduate students who are engaged in qualitative fieldwork with their digital research needs.

The DRCQF ensures that faculty members, graduate students and their research assistants have access to high quality digital tape recorders, cameras, video equipment and software to gather, preserve, process and analyze field data.

The Centre also makes it possible for researchers to disseminate the results of their research activities back to the communities in which they work in new ways including videos, CDs, CD-Rom and website content.


The University Library

The Queen Elizabeth II Library contains over a million bound volumes, with another one and a half million on microfilm, and an excellent range of periodicals.

The breadth and depth of Memorial's special library collection in folklore (over 40,000 monographs and 130 journals directly focused on folklore, and another 500 journals of related interest) reflects and fosters both the local and international interests of the department.

Indeed, this collection contains much that is unique in Canada, and the Library considers the collection to be a national resource which it maintains at an advanced level.


The Centre for Newfoundland Studies

Located in the Queen Elizabeth II Library, the centre houses a special research collection of books, government documents, periodicals, newspapers, theses, microforms, archival material and historic maps reserved for the study of all aspects of Newfoundland and Labrador. Many of its holdings are old and rare; others are as recent as the report of last month's task force or this week's community newspaper.

The CNS Archive contains an extensive collection of original manuscripts, personal papers, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs and other such materials. Major collections include literary, labor, theatre and the performing arts, women, post-Confederation Newfoundland politics and social organizations and activities.


The Maritime History Archive

This unique archive was established in 1971 to provide documentary resources for the study of maritime history. The archive, the largest of its kind in the world, has sought to collect original and microfilm records relating to the history of the seas, with a concentration on Newfoundland and the North Atlantic region.

The largest collection in the archive is the Crew Agreements of British Empire Vessels, 1863-1976, which were transferred to Memorial University from the office of the British Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen. Other significant acquisitions include collections from the British Board of Trade shipping records; Registers of Colonial Shipping; the Mercantile Navy List; maritime newspapers and periodicals; customs records, consular records; statistical tables of trade, navigation and commerce; Lloyd's Register, Lloyd's List, Index to Lloyd's List, Lloyd's Captain's Registers, and other collections relating to maritime activities in the British Colonial period.

The archive also contains the records of over fifty 19th- and 20th-century businesses and individuals involved in the Newfoundland fish trade, including the records of the Newfoundland Associated Fish Exporters Limited, established in 1947 as the sole agency for the export and marketing of Newfoundland salt cod.

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