Urban Folklore

Urban folklore is the often hilarious, always engaging, occasionally bizarre, and almost-always-with-a-moral stories that we've all heard, known, and shared as part of our daily lives. They run the gamut of simple ghost stories told around a campfire or slumber parties to rumors of industrial and governmental conspiracies and coverups. Their study provides us with insights into human nature and how people come to perceive and cope with the uncertain and complex world.

The alt.folklore.urban newsgroup (AFU) loves to discuss these stories and it, like all newsgroups, has developed an interesting subculture of its own. I post the world-famous Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for AFU approximately twice a month to the following newsgroups: alt.folklore.urban, news.answers, alt.answers newsgroups with an expiration date approximately one month from the date of posting. If the FAQ is not available on AFU at your site please check the other newsgroups or check out: . .

Notice:  New Book by Jan Harold Brunvand

Don't forget Jan Harold Brunvand's, the pioneering researcher in modern urban folklore research, new book published in August 1999.  It's to be entitled Too Good to be True and published by W.W. Norton.  Look for it!

The Archive Formerly Known As Cathouse

With a special thanks to Jason Heimbaugh and the tireless effort of many others, there is  a hilarious collection of materials from the subculture known as AFU.

snopes' Urban Folklore Pages

  • Forsome seriously good urban folklore pages, check out the pages by David (snopes) and Barbara Mikkelson.
  • AFU in the Media

  • 1998 Scientific American article.


    Cancer Chain Letters

    Darwin Awards

    Most of us have seen these circulated via email.  What's the poop on them?

    How do you tell someone that they've fallen for an urban legend?

    Here's some advice from the pioneer urban legend researcher, Professor Jan Harold Brunvand. Or you can just laugh uncontrollably at them whenever you hear one. Warning: You may become a boor.

    The Magnetic Girl Phenomenon

    Ray Wiles posted an article on the "magnetic girl" phenomenon (i.e., smallish women who seemed to defy the laws of physics in their displays of seemingly incredible strength) that swept the US at one time.

    I've Struck Gold!

    Arthur Goldstuck, author of The Ink in the Porridge: Urban Legends of South Africa's Elections and other urban legend books in South Africa has a great site.

    Some Urban Folklore References

    If you're interested in general information about urban folklore and related subjects, following is a short list of references (which are the same as the last part of my FAQ list).

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    This page is maintained by Terry Chan.