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. Each tale is 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 or adapted. (A field collected tale is spoken by a storyteller -- anyone who is telling a story--and the tale is recorded by an individual listening to the tale. The tale is either published in a journal, placed in an archive for listening, or is later selected for inclusion in a collection in a book.) Along with the preceding the analyzer identifies the "tale type," "motifs," (a classification system of individual events which occur within a tale,) identification of characters appearing in the tale and their role, (see glossary for an explanation of the various roles possible,) and the various settings that appear in the tale.
These analyses help identify various elements of a tale in which a user may be interested. For example: role--hero, villain; setting--forest, the sea, a cave; and any other terms which may appear in the description for each tale type or motif. The use of these various analyses enable one to locate a number of tales that contain similar elements.
To aid in the selection of appropriate tale(s) a short summary has been written for each tale and 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. Those tales under copyright contain long summaries.
Although the Principal Editor assumes complete responsibility for the contents and final design of the Tales OnLine database, a number of individuals have shaped the direction of the project, the inclusion of collections and tales, and taken responsibility for tale analysis. The continued revision of the organization and contents of Tales OnLine has occurred in stages. They are: the initial design stage; the first testing stage; reactions of student librarians to the design of the database, and continuous revisions of the database delivery system. During the initial phase of Tales OnLine, I wish to acknowledge the important role of Indiana University’s Folklore Department, Bloomington and the two chairs, Ruth Stone and John McDowell who signed-on to a fledgling undertaking and provided guidance. I thank Polly Grimshaw and Inta Carpenter for their support, efforts, and encouragement from the very beginning of my involvement with the university to the present. I also acknowledge the pivotal role of Joan Catapano, during the time she was editor at Indiana University Press, and the subsequent involvement of Michael Lundell from IUP. The initial design of the contents of Tales OnLine was influenced by an advisory group composed of 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 and Joan Catapano, Indiana University Press, Bloomington. Software development has been the primary responsibility of Hope Hatfield, Hatfield Consulting with the assistance of Pat Pontis. Tale analysis and the development of handbooks and manuals was undertaken by a number of folklore doctoral candidates at IU: Esther Clinton developed the keyword thesaurus, the manual for tale analysis, and the keyword manual, while Lisa Gabert wrote the manual for tale summarizers. Esther Clinton, was our original tale analyst. This task is currently being done by Lynn Gelfand and Heather Kirkman. Sue Grizzell, professional storyteller, wrote tale summaries that appear on the results page and researches the tale variants. In 2001, the Indiana Universities Folklore Department was awarded a major grant by the Education Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). An advisory group for this project included: Dr. Inta Carpenter, Dr. Margaret Read McDonald, Children’s Librarian, folklorist, and storyteller; Dr. John McDowell, Chairman of the Folklore Department, IU; Dr. Hasan el Shamy, IU; 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. Reaction to the TOL database was elicited from elementary, middle school, and high school teachers, along with members of Indiana University Press. Reactions were discussed by the advisory board and suggestions were made for revising the function and appearance of the database. Early in 2003, Dr. Brian Sturm asked a library science class to critique the database. Hope Hatfield redesigned the database as a result.