Folklore and Mythology Resource Guide

Comprehensive Learning Guide for Students and Educators


Folklore and mythology are fascinating, important subjects. They show how those who came before us — and who came before modern science and technology — sought to explain the world, communicate their cultures, and teach important lessons about how to live. And folklore and mythology are still very much with us today, connecting us to the past through language, art, and traditions. Packed with more than 40 resources, this guide is a great asset to anyone studying or teaching folklore and mythology.

General Folklore Resources

If you want to learn more about folklore, these general resources are a great place to start. They include comprehensive, wide-ranging resources, as well as study and research resources.

Encyclopedia Mythica: Folklore

Find more than 500 articles and explanations about folklore concepts and characters from around the globe. This site also hosts a wide selection of folktales, including those of Native American, European, and Asian origin.

USC Digital Folklore Archives

This is a searchable database of interviews about a wide variety of topics that comprise folklore in many different cultures, such as folk beliefs, speech, dance, and more, as well as folk myths and legends. Maintained by the University of Southern California, this is a great research resource for anyone looking for primary sources on folklore.

The American Folklife Center

This site, administered by the Library of Congress, is a great research resource. It provides a state-by-state guide to folk culture resources, as well as educational resources and more.

Folklore Test Study Guide

Prepare to show off your knowledge of folklore – especially folktales – with this study guide, which includes flashcards, quizzes, and more.

Folktale Resources

While folklore is a broad category that encompasses arts and crafts, performance, medicine, and more, the term folklore is most strongly associated with the folktale — a story passed down from generation to generation usually told to impart wisdom, advice, or warnings, or to explain natural phenomenon. Below is a collection of resources to learn more about folktales from around the globe.

Elements of a Folktale

Before you dive into reading folktales, check out this helpful introduction to the major elements of a folktale, including characters, setting, and plot. Most folktales you encounter will share these elements.

Fairy Tales of the World

As its name indicates, this site offers a rich and growing collection of fairy tales – also known as folktales – from around the world. Search tales by geographic origin or author.

American Folktales

This site is a comprehensive collection of folktales from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Most of the stories here are rendered in short-form, making them quick to read and easy to digest.

The Characters of American Folklore

This site provides background information on 15 major characters of US folktales, such as the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan, keeper of Babe the blue ox, and Casey Jones, the historical railroad engineer who inspired ballads and tall tales. You’ll also find definitions to key folklore terms and information about prominent folklorists.

William Gropper’s America Folklore Map

This 1946 pictorial map provides a visual representation of folklore in the United States, with prominent folklore characters superimposed on the various states and regions they are associated with — from the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County in California to Rip Van Winkle in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

Magic Tales of Mexico

Read several Mexican folktales that have been passed down through the generations. Each story has side-by-side Spanish and English versions, and each includes detailed notes and analysis.

Folktales from Southeast Asia and Korea

Common folktales from a dozen Asian countries are featured on this site, including tales from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, and Vietnam.

West African Folktales

This site features more than two-dozen folktales popular in Nigeria. Anthropomorphic animals are prominently featured in these stories – especially the tortoise, often portrayed as a cunning trickster. A small glossary of West African terms is included.

European Folktales

Europe has a rich folk tradition. This site includes several full-length European folktales originating from the Celtic, Germanic, Romanic, and Slavic languages.

Additional Folklore Resources

Folklore comprises much more than just folktales. It includes folk art and dance, and even folk medicine. Check out the resources below to learn more about these other aspects of folklore.

What Exactly Is Folk Art?

This article provides a primer on the genre of folk art. The article admits that folk art is “difficult to pin down,” but with the consultation of experts, it does a good job of doing just that.

Traditional Crafts

Here’s another great folk art resource. This site provides a definition of folk art, a history of the genre, examples, and much more.

Folk Art Museum

Explore the collection of New York’s Folk Art Museum. The museum’s website includes high-resolution images of the many books, paintings, textiles, and other works of folk art in its collection.

What Is Folk Dance?

The Society of Folk Dance Historians provides an overview of the types and origin of folk dances, including elaborate ceremonial dances, recreational dances, and the enduring nature of folk dance.

Popular Folk Dances

Learn more about popular folk dances from around the world with photos and descriptions of 10 prominent folk dances.

Folk Medicine

Like folktales, folk medicine has been passed down from generation to generation. While modern medicine is based on scientific research, folk medicine grew out of observing the natural world and trial and error. This article provides a thorough overview of the history of folk medicine.

Egyptian Mythology Resources

Thousands of years ago, the ancient Egyptians formed one of the earliest civilizations. It is remembered for its rich culture and mythology. See the resources below to learn more about the mythology of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt: The Mythology

This is a comprehensive guide to the mythology of ancient Egypt, including content on major myths, legends and folktales, common symbols of art and religion, geographical information, and much more.

Encyclopedia Mythica: Egyptian Mythology

Find more than 200 articles and explanations about the concepts, characters, and deities of Egyptian mythology — from Abydos (the burial spot of the god Osiris) to Zenenet (an Egyptian goddess).

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

The Egyptian pantheon included countless gods and goddesses. Some were worshiped by the entire civilization, while the worship of others was exclusive to individual cities, villages, or even households. This site offers a great introduction to Egyptian deities.

Egyptian Book of the Dead

Despite its macabre name, this text was actually a map of sorts to successfully lead ancient Egyptians to the afterlife. Check out What is a Book of the Dead? for more context and background on the text.

Greek Mythology Resources

The ancient Greeks created a complex mythology of gods, goddesses, heroes, and monsters. Many of the words and concepts familiar to us today trace their origins to Greek mythology. Learn more about Greek mythology by checking out the resources below.

Greek Mythology by History

Read this article, which includes companion videos, for a great overview of Greek mythology, including its sources and major players.

Billing itself as the premiere Greek mythology website, features articles about the gods, heroes, mortals, monsters, and myths of Greek mythology — and a whole lot more.

Ancient History Encyclopedia: Greek Mythology

This article defines Greek mythology and discusses the creation and telling of myths within the tradition. It also includes a sidebar timeline of major events related to Greek mythology.

Great Greek Myths

Read some of the most widely told Greek myths featuring characters like Zeus, Hera, Hades, Hercules, and many more.

25 Words from Greek Mythology

Atlas, titanic, narcissism – many of the words we use today are rooted in Greek mythology. This study guide includes flash cards and more for 25 of those words.

Classical Literature: Ancient Greece

This page provides information about literature in ancient Greece, along with biographies of major poets and writers of the period and synopses of their works.

Roman Mythology Resources

Roman mythology borrows a lot from the Greeks. While Roman deities have Latin names, many of them share the same roles and characteristics as their Greek counterparts – such is the case with the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus. Learn more about Roman mythology from the sources below.

Encyclopedia Mythica: Roman Mythology

Find more than 500 articles and explanations about the concepts, characters, and deities of Roman mythology — from Abundantia (the Roman goddess of abundance) to Vulcan (the god of fire).

Classical Literature: Ancient Rome

Check out information about ancient Roman literature, along with biographies of major poets, playwrights, and writers of the period, and synopses of their major works.

The Gods of Roman Mythology

This site discusses the major gods of Roman mythology, including Jupiter, the king of the gods; Mars, the god of war; and Bacchus, the god of wine.

Roman Gods and Their Greek Counterparts

Many Roman gods have roots in Greek gods who preceded them. This handy list of Roman gods includes their Greek counterparts and brief descriptions of what aspect of life or nature each god oversaw.

Ancient History Encyclopedia: Roman Mythology

This entry explores Roman mythology, including myths about the origins of Rome, and discusses the connection between Roman mythology and that of the Greeks.

Norse Mythology Resources

Gods and goddesses, dragons and dwarfs, mighty frost giants, and a serpent that circles the world — Norse mythology is packed with brutal battles, terrifying creatures, and epic sagas. The resources below will guide you through the rich mythology of the Vikings.

Norse Mythology for Smart People

This site is a comprehensive resource for Norse mythology. It includes detailed articles on deities, creatures, legends, and Norse mythology concepts, in addition to other information.

The Viking Gods of Norse Mythology

Come here for information about important Norse gods and goddesses, including Odin, Loki, and the Valkyries (which inspired “Ride of the Valkyries” by composer Richard Wagner).

Encyclopedia Mythica: Norse Mythology

Find more than 700 articles and explanations about the concepts, characters, and deities of Norse mythology — from Aegir (the sea god) to Yggdrasil (a giant ash tree that holds all worlds together).

The Norse Mythology Blog

This blog includes up-to-date information about all aspects of Norse mythology and its enduring legacy.

Folklore and Mythology Podcasts

These podcasts use technology to continue the oral tradition associated with the dissemination of myths, folktales, and legends.

The Folklore Podcast

Folklore researcher and host Mark Norman examines folk traditions, customs, and themes. Episodes often feature prominent folklorists.

Myths and Legends

Tune in each week to hear myths and legends retold and interpreted.

The Mythology Podcast

Subscribe to this podcast for “myths, folklore, and legend from throughout history and from all over the world.”

Myths and History of Greece and Rome

This podcast takes listeners on “a journey through the myths and history of ancient Greece and Rome.”