Living Lore - B. A. Botkin


Benjamin Albert Botkin was born February 7, 1901, in Boston, Massachusetts to Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. Botkin graduated from Harvard University in 1920 magna cum laude with a B.A. in English, and received his M.A. in English from Columbia University in 1921 and became an English instructor at University of Oklahoma later that year (Hirsch). He pursued his Ph.D. under William Duncan Strong and the folklorist Louise Pound at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, receiving it in 1931 (Hirsch 13). In 1938 Botkin became the national folklore editor and chairman of the Federal Writers’ Project, a position he maintained until 1941. After this, Botkin was head of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress from 1942 to 1944 and was also the president of the American Folklore Society. He married his wife Gertrude Fritz in 1925. They had two children together, Daniel Botkin and Dorothy Botkin (later Dorothy Rosenthal). Botkin died in Croton-on-Hudson, New York on July 30, 1975.