top of page

Bruce Buckley Lecture


CGP’s legacy is dedicated to the study of folklore and folk life. Until 1979, CGP offered a degree in American Folk Culture, and folklorists throughout the country recognized the program for its quality and dedication to the field.

Although no longer a degree program, folk studies remains an important component of the CGP education and curriculum. A fieldwork course is required during the first year of study in which students learn how to conduct oral histories and record traditions and stories of the past.

CGP also holds an annual lecture on a topic in folk studies. Every year, the program invites a scholar in the field to share his or her expertise, experiences, and advice through a free evening presentation for the entire community and a professional seminar for students.

Bruce Buckley

Bruce R. Buckley was a young folklorist, musician and movie producer who, along with Louis C. Jones, developed the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Bruce was a brilliant and inspiring teacher. His courses sent students out into the communities of central New York to gather music, measure buildings, sample local foodways, and document regional traditions. Bruce's approach to learning and his methods continue to inspire those who studied with him. Over six hundred former CGP students filling significant leadership positions in museums and on university campuses across the country are one of his greatest legacies.


As a fitting tribute to Bruce, the Cooperstown Graduate Program established the Bruce Buckley Lectureship. This special endowment continues to spark the excitement that Bruce brought to the community more than 35 years ago. The Buckley Lectureship brings a significant folklorist to Cooperstown each year to lecture on their current research for students and members of the local community.

Past Buckley Scholars
John Potocnik image.PNG

John Potocnik

2022 - John Potocnik '77

After earning a graduate degree in American Folk Culture from the Cooperstown Gradate Program in 1977, John co-founded the Catskill Puppet Theater and toured worldwide. Catskill Puppet Theater reached more than 75,000 people annually with their high-quality children’s theater, receiving accolades from such premiere venues as the Calgary, Winnipeg, and Ottawa International Children's Festivals, the New England Puppetry Series, and the New York State Museum. The company also performed at a number of prestigious libraries, including the New York Public Library in New York City and the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Each play used a delightful blench of humor, mystery, drama, and magical special effects, illustrated with a combination of original and traditional music. Their full sets, colorful scenery, and large, exquisitely crafted puppets transformed even the simplest environment into a fantasy world rich with wonder and excitement. The stories addressed important issues for people of all ages, teaching gentle life lessons in a powerful, entertaining, and memorable way. John resides in Laurens, New York.


2019 - George Ward

A 1969 graduate of CGP in Folklife Studies, George has lived and worked largely in east central New York State. His work - much of it with his late wife, Vaughn Ward - involves public folklore, arts-in-education, documenting and presenting regional artists, performing traditional regional music, and songwriting and composing on regional and historical themes.


His recordings include The North Campaign [American Revolution] (1977), Oh! That Low Bridge! [Erie Canal] (1982), Pea Soup and Port [Pre-Erie Canal Batteau Era] (1992), and All Our Brave Tars [Age of Fighting Sail] (1998). His music and songs for film/TV include the music for WRGB-TV’s 1976 Erie Canal documentary and several traditional-historical documentaries by Bowling Green Films Inc., most notably ‘The Molders of Troy’ 1980 (Bowling Green Films / PBS Home Video).


He has been a board member of Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs since 1990, and a board member of Albany-area folk presenter Old Songs Inc. since the 1980s.


His research and years of performances of songs of nineteenth-century New York State’s Anti-Rent Wars contributed much to Old Songs’ acclaimed 2013-14 production Down with the Rent!Recently, Old Songs presented an evening of The Songs of George Ward, in which he was supported by  both sons, his adult granddaughter, and folk icons David Ruch and John Roberts.

2018 - Mick Moloney

Mick Moloney is the author of Far From the Shamrock Shore: The story of Irish American History Through Song released with an accompanying CD. He holds a Ph.D. in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught ethnomusicology, folklore and Irish studies courses at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, and Villanova Universities, and currently teaches at New York University in the Irish Studies Program. He has recorded and produced over forty albums of traditional music and acted as advisor for scores of festivals and concerts all over America. Mick also served as the artistic director for several major arts tours including The Green Fields of America, an ensemble of Irish musicians, singers and dancers which toured across the United States on several occasions.

He has hosted three nationally syndicated series of folk music on American Public Television; was a consultant, performer and interviewee on the Irish Television special Bringing It All Back Home; a participant, consultant and music arranger of the PBS documentary film Out of Ireland; and a performer on the PBS special The Irish in America: Long Journey Home. In 1999 he was awarded the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts — the highest official honor a traditional artist can receive in the United States. Mick received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from the President of Ireland in November of 2013.

2017 - Robert Baron

Robert Baron is the founding director of the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts and teaches in the Master's Program in Cultural Sustainability at Goucher College. Baron has been a museum educator at the Brooklyn Museum; a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Finland, the Philippines, and Slovenia; a Smithsonian Museum Practice Fellow; and a Non-Resident Fellow of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also Fellow of the American Folklore Society and has received its Benjamin A. Botkin award for significant lifetime achievement in public folklore. Baron's research includes public folklore, cultural policy, creolization and museum studies. 

2016 - Roddy Moore

Roddy Moore is co-director of the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum, which is affiliated with Ferrum College. He received a master's degree in Folklore and Folklife from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in 1971 after working as a reenactor and apprentice gunsmith at Colonial Williamsburg for several years following the completion of his history degree at Virginia Tech in 1967. He arrived to the Blue Ridge Institute in 1974 as its director and considerably expanded the museum by adding archives and expanding the spring craft fair into a large festival. In his free time, Moore raises Percheron horses and builds hot rods. 

2015 - Peggy Bulger

Dr. Bulger earned her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from SUNY Albany in 1972.  Upon graduation, Bulger met with Bruce Buckley himself, who encouraged her to pursue a master’s degree in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University, which she completed in 1975.  She then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. Bulger started her career in her adopted home of Florida as the State Folk Arts Coordinator in 1975, and soon after became administrator of the Florida Folklife Program from 1976 to 1989. In 1989, she was the Folk Arts Director and Senior Program Officer for the Southern Arts Federation in Atlanta. In 1999, she was named director of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center until her retirement in 2011. Bulger is an author, editor, and producer of several books, television documentaries and musical productions.  She currently serves on the Florida Folklife Council and she is President of the Florida Folklore Society.  Bulger is a past president of the American Folklore Society and is recipient of the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for excellence in the field of Public Folklore. 

2014 - Gail Andrews '75

Gail Andrews’ background in folk culture and decorative arts is extensive. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History from the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA, her master’s degree in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, and has studied further at the Winterthur Institute and Attingham Summer School in England. She joined the Birmingham Museum of Art in 1976, serving first as Curator of Decorative Arts, then as Assistant Director and Acting Director. Andrews is an authority on Southern folk art and textiles and currently serves as the R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art, a position she has held since 1996.

2013 - Michael Owen Jones

Dr. Jones earned a Master of Arts (1964) and PhD (1970) in Folklore and American Studies from Indiana University. His research interests include folk art and aesthetics, folk medicine, vernacular religion, food customs and symbolism, applied folklore, folklore film and photography, occupational traditions, and organizational culture and symbolism. He has conducted field work in Western Canada and the Maritimes as well at Appalachia, the Great Plains, and Southern California. Dr. Jones is the author of about 230 works and is also the general editor of the Folk Art and Artists Series, University Press of Mississippi, which has published 22 volumes. He has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Skaggs Foundation, Canadian Museum of Civilization, National Institutes of Health, and other agencies. He is the former president of the California Folklore Society and former member of the American Folklore Society Executive Board and California Council for the Humanities. He has served as the president of the American Folklore Society. Dr. Jones is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Fellow of the American Folklore Society, the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters, and the Society for Applied Anthropology. 


2012 - Jane Beck, Ph.D.

Dr. Beck earned a Master of Arts (1964) and PhD (1969) in Folklore and Folklife Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Beck's award-winning work has focused on Vermont history and folklore from 1970 to the present. Dr. Beck founded the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, Vermont in 1983 and served as the Executive Director until 2007. Beck has received multiple awards for her research in Vermont folk studies, including the Governor's Award for Extraordinary Vermonter (1990), the Benjamin Botkin Award from the American Folklore Society (1996), the Vermont Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts (2004), and the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Center for Research on Vermont (2011). Dr. Beck's research has been published in various print and media formats, on topics ranging from folk medicine to New England folk art to oral history projects.

2011 - Henry Glassie '65

For over forty-five years, Dr. Henry Glassie ('65) has been the foremost folklorist in the United States. Part of the Cooperstown Graduate Program class of 1965, Glassie helped change the face of the folklore field with his (now classic) book, Folk Housing in Middle Virginia. He is a former president of the American Folklore Society, the Vernacular Architecture Forum, and was chosen by President Bill Clinton to serve on the National Council on the Humanities (2001). Glassie is currently College Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University Bloomington, where he has authored over ten of books, including his latest, Prince Twins Seven-Seven. 

2010 - Dick Case '67

Dick Case credits the CGP American Folk Culture Program with fostering his appreciation of local history and his interest in folklife and historic preservation. These and other subjects—often well beneath the scrutiny of history—have filled thousands of newspaper columns throughout his career as journalist and author.  Everywhere in Central New York “Dick Case” is a household name. Case has been recounting stories about the talents, triumphs, and tragedies of Central New Yorkers in print for over 40 years. First as a newspaper columnist in the Syracuse Herald-Journal, later at The Post-Standard, and his three books.  His latest book, Remembering Syracuse, chronicles the tragedies and triumphs of the families, friends and neighbors who call Syracuse home.  At the 2010 Bruce Buckley Lecture, Observations of a Lifelong Storyteller, he reflected on his experiences in his career as a writer and the role the CGP American Folk Culture Program played in his professional development.

2009 - Varick Chittenden '76

Varick Chittenden graduated with an M.A. in American Folk Culture from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in 1976. He taught at SUNY Canton for 36 years and now holds the title of Professor Emeritus of English and Folklore. During his career, Varick curated a number of important folk art exhibitions and authored several scholarly works, including Danes of Yates County (1985) and Vietnam Remembered: The Folk Art of Marine Combat Veteran Michael D. Cousino, Sr. (1995). His interests include upstate regional culture, folk art, traditional crafts, foodways, and oral storytelling traditions. Varick is the founder of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY). He currently serves as Heritage Center Project Director at TAUNY and is responsible for the Register of Very Special Places Project.

2008 - Amanda Dargan and Steven Zeitlin of City Lore

City Lore was founded in 1986 to produce programs and publications that convey the richness of New York City's cultural heritage. Its projects include: The People's Poetry Gathering, Place Matters, People's Hall of Fame, Culture Catalog, music and dance workshops, etc. As the Education Director for City Lore, Amanda Dargan directs and develops education components for all City Lore public programs and publications. She also directs curriculum development and teacher and teaching artist training. Steven Zeitlin is the Executive Director of City Lore. He is a commentator on nationally syndicated radio shows, Crossroads and Artbeat, and develops segments on "The Poetry of Everyday Life" for The Next Big Thing, heard on National Public Radio.

2007 - Susan G. Davis, Ph.D. '79

Susan Davis is the author of Parades and Power: Street Theatre in Nineteenth Century Philadelphia (1986) and Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience (1997). She has also written on public and corporate space and culture and the history of leisure and tourism landscapes.

2006 - Joe Hickerson

For more than 50 years, Joe Hickerson has performed more than a thousand times throughout the USA and in Canada, Finland and Ukraine. His repertoire includes a vast array of folksongs. Pete Seeger has called him "a great songleader." Joe calls himself a "vintage pre-plugged peleo-acoustic folk-singer." In 1960 he wrote the 4th and 5th verses of Where Have All the Flowers Gone. Joe also has a career as a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, and librarian. For 35 years he was Librarian and Director of the Archive of Folk Song/Culture at the Library of Congress.

2005 - Susan Eleuterio '77

Susan Eleuterio is a professional folklorist specializing in ethnic group material culture. She is the author of Irish American Material Culture: A Directory of Collections, Sites and Festivals in the United States and Canada (1988). She has conducted fieldwork and developed public programs including exhibits, performances, folk arts and oral history workshops and residencies in museums and schools. She formerly served as the Director of Ethnic and Folk Arts, Literature and Presenters Programs for the Illinois Arts Council. She is co-creating a non-profit, Company of Folks, to research, preserve, and present traditional and folk culture of the Chicago metropolitan area.

2004 - William K. McNeil, Ph.D. '67

For almost half of his sixty-four years of life, William McNeil served as folklorist for the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas and helped build its Ozark Cultural Resource Center into a major research facility. At home in the library, as well as in the field, Bill was a major resource of masses of folklore information.

2003 - Nicholas Vrooman '79

Nicholas Vrooman is the author of numerous articles and books, including Iron Spirits (1982), Turtle Mountain Music (1984), "Land of Vision: Folklore/Folklife and History on the Northern Plains" in North Dakota History (1989), Plains Chippewa/Metis Music from the Turtle Mountains (1992), and Songs for Asking (1997). He currently teaches at the University of Montana while completing his doctorate, and serves as Indian Education Specialist to the Montana Office of Public Instruction on issues of the "Indian Education for All" constitutional mandate.

2002 - Elaine Eff, Ph.D. '76

Elaine Eff authored the book, You Should Have Been Here Yesterday: A Guide to Cultural Documentation in Maryland (1995), that has served as a handbook for those who want to learn how to use oral history and other methods to record the history of their communities. She contributed oral histories of a now-vanished generation of lighthouse keepers to Ross Holland’s Maryland Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay. She serves as co-Director of Maryland Traditions, a partnership of the Maryland Historical Trust and the Maryland State Arts Council that discovers and sustains traditional arts and culture.

bottom of page