Assistant Curator Position

The Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature, Harvard University

Ilex Foundation provides major support for the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature at Harvard University. This research collection consists of texts and recordings of oral literature, including both epic and lyric songs, stories, and conversations with singers and others, made in Yugoslavia by Milman Parry and his assistants from 1933 to 1935, as well as additional collections of similar materials from Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Albania made by Albert B. Lord and others between 1937 and 1967.

In addition, the Parry Collection houses the James A. Notopoulos Collection of Modern Greek Songs from Greece, Cyprus and the Pontus, The Mario Rinvolucri Collection of Modern Greek Shadow Plays; The Cedric Whitman Collection of Modern Greek Shadow Plays, and several other collections of folkloric and ethnomusicological materials.

The daily operation of the Milman Parry Collection is supported by Ilex Foundation by providing a Fellowship to the Assistant Curator of the Collection. Holders of the position have included Dr. Matthew Kay (1998 – 2000) and David Elmer (2000 – ). The Assistant Curator is responsible for the maintenance of the Collection and handles all requests for access to the materials.

Additional projects undertaken by past and present Assistant Curators include the cataloguing and indexing of significant portions of the Collection. Ilex Foundation takes special interest in the development of the Parry Collection’s electronic resources, and made possible the production of a CD-ROM included with the recent 2nd edition of Albert Lord’s Singer of Tales (Cambridge, 2000) containing transcriptions and audio recordings of all the oral epics quoted in Lord’s text. This CD has proved to be a valuable resource to teachers and researchers of oral traditions, and has laid the groundwork for more extensive projects.

The Parry Collection is building on this foundation with a significant on-line presentation of its holdings through a digitization grant from Harvard University, a project where Ilex plays an important supporting role. Ilex Foundation also provides funding for the series, The Milman Parry Studies in Oral Tradition, which will soon publish, for example, a study of some of the 10,000 Serbo-Croatian women’s songs in the Parry Collection, and will re-issue important out-of-print texts.

Visit The Milman Parry Collection at Harvard University Website.