Violetta “Letty” Halpert Paper Prize

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The Violetta (Letty) Halpert Award is given to the best student paper delivered at the annual conference of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada. The text, of no more than 3000 words, must be sent in .doc format to the Secretary-Treasurer of FSAC By 6 P.M. local time on the first day of the conference, before it is presented.

The Secretary-Treasurer will distribute hardcopies and digital copies to the executive for adjudication.

In order to be confirmed as a winner, the paper must actually be presented at the conference by its writer, the award recipient. Recipients will be announced, and contacted, no later than 1 (one) month from the first day of that year’s conference. The recipient will receive a $250.00 cash prize, as well as a 3 year membership to the association.

Please notice that only the text of the paper will be evaluated.

Violetta (Letty) Maloney Halpert was the 2009 recipient of the Marius Barbeau Medal in recognition of her significant contribution to the field of Canadian Folklore/Ethnology in general, and to the Department of Folklore at Memorial University in particular. She graduated with a BA in English from Wilson College and an MA from Indiana University. She completed additional graduate work in Folklore, studying with Stith Thompson and George Herzog.

In no small part due to the dedication and hard work of Letty Halpert over four decades, Memorial University boasts a world class folklore library and a nationally recognized folklore archive. In 1963 Violetta Halpert joined the Acquisitions Department of Memorial University library, serving as its Head for several years before resigning in 1969. As Head of Acquisitions and later as Collections Specialist, she was largely responsible for developing the library’s holdings in several areas that today are considered Memorial’s strengths: Folklore, American Literature, Linguistics, Anthropology and Irish Studies. It is largely due to her efforts, together with those of her husband, that Memorial’s folklore collection became the best in Canada. In recent years, Letty has continued to build Memorial’s holdings through the donation of the Halpert’s personal library, which is perhaps the finest personal folklore library in the world.

As a Research Associate with the Folklore Department, Letty Halpert was instrumental to the founding of the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive and setting its direction. Even before MUNFLA’s establishment in 1968, Letty began to develop and annotate the student materials that form the basis of the archive’s collection. Letty undauntedly took the lead on the cataloging of archival materials and her precision and thoroughness as a cataloguer set the tone for future work. Gerald Thomas and John Widdowson described the importance of Letty’s extensive contribution to MUNFLA: “[Letty and Herbert Halpert] devised and refined a comprehensive classification of genres of folklore….The classification not only contributed to the structure of folklore courses taught at Memorial, but also formed the basis for systems of accessioning and data retrieval in MUNFLA. Indeed, in the early years of the folklore programme at Memorial, the Halperts painstakingly and systematically discussed with individual students the materials they had submitted as coursework, adding annotations before assigning the data to the appropriate archive category. The classification has proved invaluable in helping students and other researchers to identify and explore major and minor aspects of their own culture….” (1991:xiv).

[Note: Letty Halper passed away 30 May 2009.]

The 2016 award winner

Gesa Bierwerth (Ethnologie, Université Laval)

Recipients of the Violetta “Letty” Halpert Paper Prize

  • 2016 – Gesa Bierwerth (Université Laval)
  • 2015 – Claudia Prévost (Université Laval)
  • 2014 – Marie-Pier Anctil-Corneau (Université Laval)
  • 2013 – Liyanna Fauzi et Marcie Fehr (University of Winnipeg)
  • 2012 – Kendra Magnus-Johnston (University of Manitoba)