Skip to main content

Mary Celestia Parler Papers

Identifier: MC 1501

Scope and Content Note

Papers include teaching and research materials, class reports, and other documentation collected by Mary Celestia Parler-Randolph, of the Department of English, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in the course of her work with Ozark folklore, especially Ozark folksong. These materials were originally housed in the Department of English, as part of the Folklore Research Project files. The material was used to compile the twelve volumes of Arkansas Folklore in Special Collections that cover proverbs, riddles, beliefs, superstitions, as well as ballads contained in what is now known as the Mary Celestia Parler Ozark Folksong Collection. This collection contains professional correspondence, style sheets, and drafts of the bound non-song materials in the University Folklore Collection, audio recordings, class notes, student reports, photographs, and index cards pertaining to organization of the collection and contact organizations and individuals. Other materials include index cards of folk sayings and stories; audio reels of folk songs and folk stories; materials related to the Ozark Folklore Society; and writings of Mary Parler and of her mother, Josie Platt Parler.


  • Creation: 1914 - 1983


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

In some cases, performances and other material in the collection are protected by copyright and may not be used without permission.

Biographical Note

Mary Celestia Parler was born in 1904, in Wedgefield, South Carolina. She came to University of Arkansas in 1948 as an associate professor of English, specializing in the works of Chaucer. In 1949, she participated in the formation of the Arkansas Folklore Society with John Gould Fletcher and Vance Randolph, whom she later married. Also that year she developed the university's curriculum for Arkansas folklore and became the director of the University of Arkansas Folklore Research Project. During the next fifteen years, she along with her students amassed a collection of over 3,000 audio recordings of folksong and tales. Aside from the audio collection, now known as the Mary Celestia Parler Ozark Folksong Collection, she also produced twelve volumes of adjectival comparisons, proverbs, riddles, beliefs and superstitions, and ballads taken from over sixty-thousand note cards which she collected from her students during her twenty-six year career at the university. She also published a compilation entitled Arkansas Ballet Book, taken from songs found in the folksong collection in 1963.


80.67 Linear Feet (130 boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Material is arranged and described in fifteen series:

  1. Series 1. Professional Correspondence and Linguistic Reports and Correspondence
  2. Series 2. Manuscripts and Notes
  3. Series 3. "Arkansas Ballet Book"
  4. Series 4. Instructions and Contents to Non-Song Material
  5. Series 5. Student Reports
  6. Series 6. Preliminary Materials for the Non-Song material in the University Folklore Collection
  7. Series 7. Reel-to-Reel tapes
  8. Series 8. Index Cards Boxes
  9. Series 9. Lyrical Transcriptions
  10. Series 10. Folklore Journal Issues
  11. Series 11. Publications Concerning the University of Arkansas Folklore Research Project
  12. Series 12. Photographs
  13. Series 13. Drawings and Portraits
  14. Series 14. Artifacts
  15. Series 15. Research Files and Student Projects

Acquisition Information

These materials were donated to Special Collections by Dr. Leo Van Scyoc, of the University of Arkansas Department of English. He worked with Mary Celestia Parler and aided in the preparation of her notes for the University Folklore Collection.

Processing Information

The papers were processed by Rachel Reynolds, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas, in April 2003.

An additional grouping of papers, likely received from Van Scyoc between 2003-2009, was processed by Katrina Windon and Huong Nguyen as Series 15 and completed in June 2022.


Mary Celestia Parler Papers
Rachel Reynolds
April 2003
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Revision Statements

  • June 2022: Updated by Katrina Windon to incorporate MC 1501.002 as Series 15.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444