H.W. is a member of the Class of 2020 at Dartmouth from Portland, OR. She is affiliated with Greek Life at Dartmouth.
Cultural: Rush rounds are the three steps of the Inter-sorority Council (ISC) sorority rush process taking place over 1.5 weeks.
Social: The item was collected through a video chat interview. Only current members of the organization dress according to the theme. According to the informant, the social significance of this item is that it is a way to “be memorable” to potential new members and ultimately tells something about the specific organization.
Current members of sororities may dress according to different themes for the three rounds of the rush process. Some examples given by the informant are Outer Space theme and Rock and Roll theme.
This item made clear the importance of how the Greek organization presents itself to potential new members during the rush process.
L.G. is a female member of the Class of 2022 at Dartmouth. She is affiliated with Greek Life, and she is from New York.
Cultural: The clothing represents their membership within the house. Individuals are also able to tell what term the person has joined the house depending on the house gear they are wearing because a house usually makes 2-3 new house gears every 2 terms.
Social: This information was collected through a video chat interview.
Members wear “house gear” to show that there are a member of that house.
R.B. is a member of the Class of 2020 at Dartmouth and is affiliated with Greek Life. He is from California and studying Engineering.
Cultural: Shake Out is a step of the Interfraternity Council rush process.
Social: This item was collected through a video chat interview. Not all fraternities request that potential new members wear formal attire. It may be “out of respect” to dress formally, and this is only done by potential new members.
Item: Potential new members of fraternity organizations wear formal attire for the Shake Out event.
This item is similar to a different item collected- Sorority Pref Night clothing. Formal attire may be required for both processes, potentially indicating the significance and formality of certain events.
M.F. is a female member of the Class of 2022 at Dartmouth. She is affiliated with Greek Life, and she is from Minnesota.
Cultural: Pref night is the third and final “round” of Inter-Sorority Council rush, where each round is a different step of the process. After pref night, potential new members must determine which sorority they are interested in joining.
Social: This information was collected through a video chat interview. All current members of the Greek organization and selected potential new members must participate in pref night. The significance of dressing in more formal attire for pref night may be out of respect and to demonstrate that the matter is taken seriously.
On pref night, potential new members and current members of the organization must dress formally, often in all black clothing.
I recognized a similarity between this item and a different item collected- Fraternity Shake Out Clothing. It seems that formal attire is a common feature of both.
Sam Lincoln is a 21 year old college student studying mechanical engineering at Arizona State University. He was born in Wisconsin and raised in Arizona. He began overnight backpacking when he was 15 and hiked the Colorado Trail after he graduated from high school in 2016. He enjoys archery and playing video games. Sam is the twin brother of Rachel Lincoln, who collected this item.
Historical context: Humans have built cairns for thousands of years to memorialize the dead, track the calendar, and create landmarks. Now, cairns have become a fixture of hiking trails to show the way.
Social context: Hikers on all lengths of trails build cairns to leave a reminder of their presence. Though cairns serve practical purpose, popular trails usually have many more than necessary because building cairns is a tradition that helps hikers feel connected to the land.
A cairn is a man-made stack of rocks used to mark a trail route. The rocks are stacked and balanced in a manner that would not occur naturally, so they can easily be identified by hikers looking for a trail. Building cairns is a tradition across nearly all hiking trails.
“Cairns are just piles of rocks stacked up to mark the trail in places where you can’t really put a sign or there are no signs so people don’t get lost…Just a basic pyramid structure, just pile rocks up in a way that would not normally occur in nature so it’s pretty obvious that someone did it for, like, a purpose—which was to mark the trail.”
The tallest cairn Sam saw on the Colorado Trail was about two feet tall.
Unlike carving your name on trees or rocks, cairns are a memento hikers can leave that doesn’t irreversibly disrupt nature.
Collector: Rachel Lincoln
Cairn, Colorado Trail, Tradition, Material Folklore
Ian Andrews is currently a graduate student at MIT. He grew up in Juneau, Alaska and hiked the Chilkoot Trail after finishing his undergraduate studies. Ian hikes recreationally, from trails in his hometown, to spending a week hiking in the Olympic Mountains in Washington State.
Historical Context: First used by the Tlingit people of Alaska as a trade route, the Chilkoot became an important trail for miners and prospectors coming to Alaska during the Klondike gold rush at the end of the 1800s. The trail was mostly abandoned after the end of the gold rush in 1898, until the trail was restored for recreational hikers in the 1960s. (Source)
A certificate given to hikers on the Chilkoot trail who reach the Lake Lindemann Museum.
At the top of the certificate, there is a depiction of four birds. This is done in the Form Line art style, traditional to the Native Tlingit people of the area. This design is credited to Ross Atlin at the bottom of the certificate.
On the certificate, there is a message of congratulations to the receiving hiker:
Congratulations for hiking the Chilkoot Trail
The Chilkoot Trail is important because of the role it played in the mass movement of people to Alaska and the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. The Trail is part of the Klondike Gold Rush International Historic Park.
The certificate contains the same message in French, as the Chilkoot trail stretches between Alaska and Canada.
Felicitations pour avoir parcouru la piste Chilkoot
La piste Chilkoot revet und grande importance en raison du role qu’elle a joue dans l’arrivee massive des gens en Alaska et au Yukon durant la ruee vers l’or du Klondike. Cette piste fait partie du parc historique international de la ruee vers l’or du Klondike.
There is also a photograph of gold rushers hiking to the Chilkoot Pass summit, taken between 1897 and 1898. Next to this photograph are the Tagish and Tlingit names for the summit, Kwatese and A Shaki, respectively.
At the bottom of the certificate, there is an endorsement from both Parks Canada, and the United States National Parks Service.
“They have a museum there with different pieces of history of the trail. They have a log book and a sticker or decal you could take. I think it was actually like a certificate you could take. Some of the camps were more built up than others.”
The informant later followed up, confirming a certificate was rewarded to anyone who reaches the Lake Lindemann Museum.
Neither the informant or I spoke French well enough to provide a phonetic translation of the French section of the certificate. However, it appears to be an equivalent translation of the message of congratulations written in English.
Professor Terstorf was born in Germany and studied physics in Germany and got a phd in physics. However, when he came to Dartmouth in the 90’s he became a researcher for Thayer. But now he is an engineering professor
Social Context: The shirt has the image of an electrical resistor that is only connected to itself. In engineering, this is a short circuit which means it has no function. That is why the resistance is futile.
Cultural context: The quote: “resistance is futile” comes from the popular movie Star Trek. Since then, this quote has really been part of culture and it’s often said to friends as a joke.
He likes to call people out every time they say that they understand the joke. He always asked them “what’s so funny about it the shirt? ” Non-engineers (even some engineers) usually say they like the Star trek reference. Then, he tells them how the resistor is useless because it’s connected to itself. This is for him what makes it funny
I had some doubts as to if the shirt is part of folklore since someone is making money selling the shirt. However, after some thinking and research, I found a lot of quotes(proverbs for example) that were folklore that were put on shirts. I realized that the shirt itself might not be folklore but that doesn’t mean that what’s on it is not folklore. In other words, the maker of the shirt can’t really stop other people form making the shirt with this symbol on it. Therefore he has no rights to the symbol.
Material Folklore: Chinese Supersition – Evil Spirit
Language: Chinese (Mandarin)
Country of Origin: China
Informant: Ray Li
Date Collected: May 25, 2019
Ray is a male student at Dartmouth College in the Class of 2020. He was born in Beijing, China and lived there all of his life. He came to the U.S. for school. Currently, he plans to major in Computer Science. Ray travels between New Hampshire and China for major holidays, such as Chinese New Year.
Cultural Context: In Chinese folklore, the ‘Nian’ was a sea-monster who would rise each year, devouring livestock and any people. People would hide until it was found that the ‘Nian’ was afraid of the color red and loud noises. On Chinese New Year, communities are decorated in red and fireworks are set off, in addition to loud sounds made by playing drums.
Social Context: The superstition was relayed through an in-person interview with the informant at Dartmouth College. The Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations in China, and the focus is on family. Ray celebrated Chinese New Year with his family when he was in Beijing. However, since it occurs in mid-January, he cannot fly home since he is in school.
Text and Texture
Zodiac (There is not really an English equivalent for this word.)
In order to prevent the ‘Nian’ from bringing evil to a family, the family will hang an inverted ‘fu’ on the door. This symbolizes the ‘Nian’ has already been there, so the ‘Nian’ will not come.
A: Okay, so, why don’t you introduce yourself, where from, your year…
R: Okay. So, my name is Ray Li. I’m a ’20 from Beijing, China. Yeah, that’s a little bit about myself.
A: So, yeah, I guess were curious to hear if you have any folklore about evil spirits, evil eyes, that kinda stuff that comes from Chinese culture.
R: Oh for sure. For our Lunar New Year, we have this tradition. We have a monster called ‘Nian,’ which comes here and eats the children and make the village all empty and destroy the harvest for next year and all that stuff. So, to prevent that, we hang this thing called ‘fu,’ which is the Chinese character for, you know, like happiness, prosperity, and all that. And we reverse hang it so we like hang the character but in reverse, like upside down, so it looks like, like nian but in reverse. So when ‘Nian’ arrived, so when we hang it, it means the monster has already arrived so when the Lunar New Year came the monster would not show up. That’s the whole spirit, the whole idea.
A: So is this still something you do today? Is it something that’s very traditional?
R: Yeah, I think it’s the most wide, most ubiquitous thing in China. You see people hang this red picture with the black character with that fu in an upside down manner. It’s still a tradition people still do nowadays.
A: So, what happens, for example, lets say you don’t hang the character upside down?
R: It has a very bad connotation that you have bad luck in the next year.
A: Okay and does this thing have a name? Does this tradition have a name, or…?
R: I think it’s just one of those Lunar New Year traditions, but it’s one of the most important ones. It’s one of the most ubiquitious, most common, and it’s still well perceived, still a tradition that every family have to do.
A: Okay. Awesome. Thank you very much.
“So when ‘Nian’ arrived, so when we hang it, it means the monster has already arrived so when the Lunar New Year came the monster would not show up.”
The inversion of ‘fu’ reverses the concept of blessings and happiness, signifying that the family has already incurred the evil spirit of the ‘Nian.’ The material folklore has symbolic significance for the community, where the celebration can occur only if the evil spirit is proteted against.
John Hall was born in Manhattan, New York on July 15, 1998. John lived in New York City for a couple years before moving to New Jersey. John started swimming when he turned 11, because his younger brother has started swimming and he wanted to join. He is a sophomore at Dartmouth, and he swims sprint freestyle.
Cultural Context: In many sports, and life in general, people will do or wear things that they think can help. Even though the superstition may do nothing, it gives the person a sense of reassurance and confidence.
Social Context: The data was collected in a one on one interview in Baker-Berry library. John described a superstition and tradition he did with a friend on the days of swim meets. The folklore was created to help bring good luck before the meet. He started doing his superstition in 7th grade, and has continued to do it since then.
John would wear the same shoes for every meet until he did bad. Once he did bad, he would go purchase new shoes to wear for meets until he did bad in the new shoes. He has done this with his friend for years.
Image of Flip Flops (Deck Shoes):
“Starting in 7th grade, my friend and I bought the same flip flops for a summer swim meet. We wore them to every meet until we did bad in the meet, then we would switch to wearing a different pair of shoes on the day of the meet. As soon as we did bad, we would switch to a new pair, to help bring good luck. The bad shoes would still be worn, just not during swim meets. “
I thought it would be expensive to maintain, but deck shoes are only a couple of bucks.