The American Folklore Society (AFS) is the US-based professional association for folklorists, with members from the US, Canada, and around the world, which aims to encourage research, aid in disseminating that research, promote the responsible application of that research, publish various forms of publications, advocate for the continued study and teaching of folklore, etc. The Society is based at Indiana University and has an annual meeting every October. The Society's quarterly publication is the Journal of American Folklore. The current president is Kay Turner, an independent scholar and public folklorist who has held the position since 2016.
At present[when?] almost half of its 2,200 members practice their work outside higher education. In addition to professors, members include arts administrators, freelance researchers, librarians, museum curators, and others involved in the study and promotion of folklore and traditional culture. The society is associated with the more Europe oriented International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF)
AFS was founded in 1888 by William Wells Newell, who stood at the center of a diverse group of university-based scholars, museum anthropologists, and men and women of letters and affairs. In 1945, the society became a member of the American Council of Learned Societies. AFS is also an active member of the National Humanities Alliance (NHS).
Over the years, prominent members of the American Folklore Society known outside academic circles have included Marius Barbeau, Franz Boas, Ben Botkin, Jan Harold Brunvand, Linda Dégh, Ella Deloria, Thomas A. DuBois, William Ferris, John Miles Foley, Joel Chandler Harris, Zora Neale Hurston, James P. Leary, Alan Lomax, John A. Lomax, Kay Turner, and Mark Twain. Past presidents have included Samuel Preston Bayard, Henry Glassie, Diane Goldstein, and Dell Hymes.
AFS awards various prizes to honor outstanding work in the field of folklore, at the opening ceremony of the annual AFS meeting. These include the following:
Other prizes are awarded annually, by different sections of the American Folklore Society.
Every other year (in alternating years), AFS awards the following prizes:
Each year, the Women's Section of the American Folklore Society awards two prizes in honor of pioneering scholar Elli Köngäs-Maranda.
The Children's Folklore Section annually offers the W. W. Newell Prize, which includes a cash award, for the best student essay on a topic in children's folklore.