The New Negro (1925), Alain Locke’s anthology of writings about black America’s enlightenment and transformation, includes “T’appin (Terrapin),” a folktale Arthur Huff Fauset collected from “Cugo Lewis, Plateau, Alabama. Brought to America from West Coast Africa, 1859.” “T’appin say, ‘King, we in te’bul condition on de earth. We can’t git nothin’ to eat.”1 Fauset makes the point that, in order to counter the distortions of even well-meant adaptations of Negro folklore, specifically Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories, there was “a strong need of a scientific collecting of Negro folklore before the original sources of this material altogether lapse.”2 He believed in taking down stories as faithfully as possible.

Fauset was one of the few black anthropologists in the field when Zora Neale Hurston began to study under Franz Boas, also the teacher of Melville Herskovits, Ruth Benedict, Elsie...

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