Promoting American understanding of Russian folklore and traditional Russian life and culture.
What we do and who we are
We are American Friends of Russian Folklore, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation and a 501(c)(3) organization. AFRF’s mission is to support and promote American understanding of Russian traditional life and culture. To this end, AFRF supports a wide range of projects: field research, recordings, film making, archiving, and analysis of Russian folklore and oral histories. We also support educational and cultural presentations at universities, conferences, and festivals.
Russian folklore is a lovely thing in itself, filled with marvelous sounds, words, colors, rituals --but we think it has a broader role to play on the world stage.Even though the cold war is officially over, all those decades of confrontation left Russians and Americans in a state of mutual ignorance, full of distrust towards each other. To move to a better relationship, we need to understand each other. And what better way to understand a people than to understand what lies at the very roots of their culture?
We invite you to join us however you can --whether it be signing up for an expedition, making a donation, or just telling people about us. Every contribution supports scholarly research, documents vanishing folkways, and promotes world understanding. We think that’s quite a deal.
American Friends of Russian Folklore is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation. Our current Board of Directors includes:
Margaret McKibben Margaret McKibben has been involved with Russian folklore as a student, collector and performer ever since she learned her first Russian folksong in seventh grade. She holds a BA in Russian Civilization and a Masters in Library Science. She is the author of Old Believers in North America, an annotated online bibliography. Ms. McKibben works as a reference librarian at North Seattle College in Seattle, Washington. She joins folklore expeditions to Russia every chance she gets.
Dr. Yelena Minyonok Lena Minyonok is a philologist, folklorist, and Principal Investigator of the American Friends of Russian Folklore. Dr. Minyonok graduated from the Philological Department of the Moscow State University, where she received her M.A. degree from in 1988. Her postgraduate studies were at the Gorky Institute of World Literature (Russian Academy of Sciences, 1988-1991). She received her Ph.D. in Folklore (Moscow, 1998) and now serves as Chief Curator of the Folklore Archive and Major Researcher in the Folklore Division of the Gorky Institute. Dr. Minyonok has been a Principal Investigator for countless folklore expeditions and has published over 60 articles about Russian folklore traditions. Most recently, she has led expeditions for the American Friends of Russian folklore in conjunction with the Institute of World Literature at the Russian Academy of Sciences. She was a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky in 2007, as a Fulbright scholar.
Laura Olson Osterman (Laura J. Olson) received her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Yale University in 1994 and has an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University (1990). Her first book, Performing Russia: Folk Revival and Russian Identity (RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), investigated how and why intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and government policymakers reinvented Russian folk music and dance performance from the nineteenth century to the 2000s. When not teaching or researching, she might be found singing Russian or Bulgarian folk songs with Planina folk choir.
Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby is a Professor of Russian, Folklore and Linguistics at the University of Kentucky, where she teaches courses in language, linguistics, and folklore. She holds a PhD from the University of Virginia in Slavic Languages and Literatures. She began her study of Russian folklore in graduate school and researches folk religion, legend and ritual. Her favorite part of the country is western Siberia, especially in the winter, and she visits that region annually for her research projects.
Dr. Ruth Warner, Treasurer Dr. Ruth Warner just recently retired from a career of teaching high school German, French and Russian and is now teaching occasional classes at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She has long been interested in folklore, especially Russian. While doing her graduate study at the Ohio State University, she sang with the Rusalka Russian Folk Chorus. Her dissertation topic was folklore in Russian literature, in particular the Russian Yuletide traditions in Pushkin's Evgenii Onegin, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Akhmatova's Poem Without a Hero. She had already traveled to Russia numerous times but was excited to find out about the expeditions to the Russian villages. She has been on three expeditions, two in the summer to Siberia and one winter trip to the Cossack region, and hopes to go on more.
Michael Young, Secretary Michael Young is a PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology at Indiana University Bloomington. His interest in Russian folk music began in college when he joined the Middlebury Russian Choir and grew during his time living and working in Moscow after graduation. He has been on expeditions to Smolensk (2006) and Volgograd (2010) provinces and shared these experiences with academic and non-academic audiences in Bloomington, IN as an Assistant Instructor of World Music and Culture and Community Outreach Educator for the IU Russian and East European Studies National Resource Center. He recently completed fieldwork research in Poland for his dissertation project, On the City Life of Polish Village Culture, which explores the contested visions and performances of Polish folk culture and national identity as represented by various urban music and dance collectives.
American Friends of Russian Folklore is a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation and a 501(c)(3) organization. Tax I.D. No. 26-0294873.