About Us


What Our Database Offers

Tales Online is a database of folktales, fairytales, myths of indigenous peoples, legends, sagas, and fables of world cultures in collections. All of the texts and notes are exact duplication of the original and no attempt has been made to either alter the style or wording contained in the original collection. Although at times the language is awkward, it is true to the original.

The collections contained in the database includes journal articles, archival material, and tales contained in printed volumes. Many tales are analyzed by a professional or advanced student folklorist.

The analysis includes:

  • An identification of the "genre" of the tale
  • A notation is made if the tale is field collected (spoken by a storyteller and recorded by a listener to be later published or archived) or adapted.
  • "Tale type" and "motifs" which classify
    • Individual events which occur within a tale
    • Identification of characters appearing in the tale and their role
    • Various settings that appear in the tale.

To aid in the user’s search through the collection, a short summary for each tale appears on the results page along with the title and the source of the tale. This enables you to include all of the information for each tale in a bibliography if needed.

All tales in the public domain (not under copyright) contain the full text. Tales under copyright contain long summaries.

The Creative Vision of May Brottman

As creator and principle editor of Tales Online from its inception in 1997 to her passing in 2010, May's passion for folk literature of all types and its influence on society was a driving force in the development of this database. In addition to many years of teaching experience as an LRC Director and Teacher Librarian, May was also a long-time member of the following organizations; American Folklore Society, American Library Association, American Association of School Librarians, ALA-Reference and Adult Services Division ALA- Young Adult Library Services Association and the National Education Association. May's accomplishments include the publication of The LIRT Library Instruction Handbook, and she served on numerous professional committees and was involved in several developmental programs.

At the heart of the formation of Tales Online was May’s vision of creating a platform that would give wider access to individual tales determined by individual needs. The database was initially produced in collaboration with the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, and was first developed as a tool for folklore research. Today her family and collaborators are working to fulfill May’s original vision by expanding access to the collection beyond folklore researchers and universities to include individual storytellers, artists, and anyone wishing to be inspired by the world’s tales of old.

Other Early Developers and Contributors

Indiana University’s Folklore Department, Bloomington, especially department chairs
Ruth Stone and John McDowell.
Polly Grimshaw and Inta Carpenter.
Joan Catapano, editor at Indiana University Press.
Michael Lundell from IUP.

Initial Design Advisory Group:

Dr. Hasan el Shamy – Professor of Folklore,
Indiana University Folklore Department
Polly Grimshaw – Librarian Emeritus, Folklore Library, Indiana University
Virginia Richey, Children’s Librarian, Monroe County Public Library, Bloomington
Dr. Donald Braid, folklorist and storyteller Indianapolis
Dr. Moira Smith, Folklore Librarian, Indiana University
Dr. Perry Willett, Assistant Director for Project and Services, and Head of Library
Electronic Text Resource Service, Indiana University Library, Bloomington
Joan Catapano, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

Software Development:

Hope Hatfield, Hatfield Consulting with the assistance of Pat Pontis.

Tale Analysis and Development of Handbooks and Manuals:

Esther Clinton.
Lisa Gabert.
Lynn Gelfand.
Heather Kirkman.
Sue Grizzell.

National Endowment for the Humanities Education Grant Advisors (2001):

Dr. Inta Carpenter.
Dr. Margaret Read McDonald, Children’s Librarian, folklorist, and storyteller.
Dr. John McDowell, Chairman of the Folklore Department, Indiana University
Dr. Hasan el Shamy, Indiana University.
Dr. Carl Lindahl, Professor of English and Folklore, University of Houston.
Dr. Brian Sturm, Library Science Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. NC
and Paddy Bowman, Coordinator, National Network for Folk Arts in Education.

Particular gratitude to Polly Grimshaw for her vision and encouragement from the project’s conception.

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