On January 29, 1990, four members of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters signed a letter to the Board of the Academy proposing that the “Folklore Fellows”, a concept surviving in the name of Folklore Fellows’ Communications, a monograph series published by the Academy since 1910, be revived as a modern international network of folklorists. A return to the original model, a network of local folklore societies mainly in European countries, which existed for about two decades in the beginning of the century, was deemed impractical. What was needed now was a global network of individual researchers.
The four signatories were Lauri Honko, Matti Kuusi, Anna-Leena Siikala and Leea Virtanen. They outlined three tasks for the renewed Folklore Fellows. First, an international network of 100 full members and an unlimited number of associate members to be established by invitation; information to circulate among members and relevant research institutions. Second, international scholarly training courses entitled Folklore Fellows’ Summer School would be introduced. Third, the editing of the FF Communications would continue with a broad recruitment of international folklorists in mind.
On February 5, 1990, the Board of the Academy accepted the proposal and ratified the Rules for the Folklore Fellows providing two bodies, an Executive Committee consisting of four Finnish members of the Academy and an Advisory Committee consisting of 10 scholars from outside Finland and the Executive Committee. The nomination of full members became the task of the Advisory Committee, whereas the daily running of other affairs was left to the Executive Committee.
Looking back after ten years, the three tasks seem to have been fulfilled. The Folklore Fellows today have 25 honorary, 87 full and 484 associate members who receive the FF Network bulletin and a 20% discount on FF Communications. FF Network is presently sent free to 945 individuals and 320 institutions. The material is extensively available on the Internet. Scholarly networks around special topics such as Oral Epics and Gender Studies have been introduced. Several smaller conferences have been organised by these networks, whereas global meetings of folklorists have been left to others, mainly the International Society for Folk-Narrative Research.
The present issue brings vivid testimony that the Folklore Fellows’ Summer School is well and thriving. The number of volumes in FFC is 2-5 per year, each new volume being instantly reviewed in the FF Network bulletin. We feel that Folklore Fellows fills a niche of some international relevance to folklore studies. With us, to be sure, “folklore” is not in any crisis; it is a source of solid scholarly motivation.
It is time to thank all the friends who have helped us along the way, especially the FF Summer School Organising Committee and Staff, the Advisory Committee, and the authors of FFC. We feel confident in beginning a new decade.