Sites of (re)Collection is based on the enormous nineteenth century archival collections of Evald Tang Kristensen (1843-1929), the most prolific collector of folklore in Europe. The majority of his collection is housed at the Danish Folklore Archives in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The goal of this project is to present a series of tools that allows one to visualize these interrelationships, easily navigate and access the underlying archival materials and, ultimately, understand the entire archive in an ethnographically “thick” manner. By connecting the materials to each other so that the original relationships between storyteller, story, collector, and environment are reestablished, the archive comes alive. Similarly, by connecting the collector to his collaborators, interlocutors, critics and family, and by connecting the storytellers to their social and physical environments through maps and state archives, the richness of these individuals’ lives is much easier to comprehend. Analytic tools allow one to search across storytellers’ repertoires in a more meaningful manner than simple keyword search; explore the interconnectedness of both the storytelling tradition and the storytellers; visualize relationships between stories, and subsequently plot those relationships onto the mapped environment; visualize relationships between the collector and the storytellers; and discover aspects of the underlying stories by user defined input to sophisticated text analysis tools. Mapping aspects of the archive onto historically accurate maps from the time of collection allow for a richer understanding of the close relationship between story, storyteller and environment.
Since most folklore collections paint a remarkably one dimensional view of tradition focusing either on “typical” stories organized around themes and genre, or on the endeavors of a single collector, scant if any attention is paid to the individual storytellers. The result of these standard presentations of folklore is that the complexity of the interrelationships between the collector; the storytellers; the social/political and physical environment; and their stories all disappear. By contrast, this project will open radical new vistas onto the complexities of relationships in the collection by providing a series of easily navigated interfaces to the collection, and a series of tools for research on the materials that comprise the collection.