I am sure that there is some sort of horrible punishment for the sin that I am about to commit, but I am willing to endure the pain for our readers. I find myself swamped and the clock is zooming towards quitting time on a Friday afternoon and I have yet to come up with one of our weekly blog posts. The sin that I am about to commit then, is that of re-posting. I wouldn’t normally consider it, but I am already a week behind on Halloween posts and our intern dug this post out of the vault and got REALLY interested in looking at the sources provided. If you are new to our blog, I hope you enjoy the post; if you are a long-suffering fan, we’ve got great new stuff coming right up!
A recent topic on an archives-related listserv prompted discussion about archival collections that contain primary source (original) material on werewolves. Many archivists noted that they had frequently been asked about werewolf related archival material for research papers and had little knowledge of where to direct patrons. Fortunately, the listserv brought forth several sources that may prove useful in researching these hairy beasts. Recommended sources include:
- German folklore translations from the University of Pittsburgh (all available online). Werewolves, vampires, and a host of other fairy tale characters are covered.
- Georgetown’s Special Collections now holds the papers of Montague Summers, who frequently wrote on werewolves. (At posting time, I could not verify this, but the papers have only recently resurfaced.)
- For French readers, the website http://www.labetedugevaudan.com/ contains primary source materials about the Beast of Gevaudan (believed to be a werewolf).
- Inquisition trial transcripts of Gilles de Rais (believed by some of his contemporaries to be a werewolf) are held by the Special Collections of Notre Dame.
- Primary sources collected in Charlotte Otten’s A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture include old English sources, psychiatric reports, and other material that give historical context to lycanthropy.
- Henry Wharton Shoemaker retells supernatural folklore heard in the wilds of Pennsylvania in Pennsylvania Mountain Stories (available in Google Books).
- The Book of Werewolves is an oft-cited text that was written in 1865 by Sabine Baring-Gould, a Vicar in the Church of England. This tome gives an academic history of the folklore of werewolves before veering off into strange waters with real-life cases of bizarre behavior.
- Though this website, Werewolf Research, is not academically affiliated nor is the author verifiable, it appears to have some good information that could be easily substantiated elsewhere. (For those who prefer the undead, there is also a Vampire Research site hosted by the same folks.)
Our humble offering to lycanthropy research is a sketch (above) from our Barry Moser Collection titled Lycanthropia. An early (c. 1970) Moser work, this piece depicts the begginings of the transformation from man to beast.
Many thanks to the Society of American Archivists’ sponsored listserv Archives and Archivists for these excellent resources. We would love to hear about your favorite werewolf resources in the comments!