French-language folktales, Avoyelles Parish, 1944

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This digital collection is comprised of audio recordings of seventy-nine folktales recorded by Calvin Claudel in Avoyelles Parish in the 1940s.

All recordings are by persons who were natives of Avoyelles Parish and were bilingual in French and English. Claudel had a special interest in magic tales and numbskull tales (about the humorous misadventures of fools) and sought to demonstrate a connection between Louisiana and French folk traditions.

According to Thomas Klingler, Associate Professor of French, the recordings “are a treasure trove for linguistic studies that give us a rare window onto Louisiana French from over 70 years ago.” Barry Jean Ancelet, folklorist and emeritus Granger & Debaillon Endowed Professor in Francophone Studies at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, said the collection is “an important one in the history of Louisiana French oral tradition studies.”

A folklorist and professor of romance languages, Calvin Andre Claudel (1916-1988) was born in Avoyelles Parish. He completed his dissertation, “A Study of Louisiana French Folktales in Avoyelles Parish,” at the University of North Carolina in 1948. He used Presto recording equipment to record the interviews. Presto was an instantaneous recording technique using aluminum plates coated with a cellulose nitrate based lacquer. LaRC sent the plates to an audio conservator in Philadelphia who created the archival digital files that are now available online.
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