Janet Gilmore

Position title: Professor Emeritus

Email: jgilmore@wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 265.8270

46c Agricultural Hall

Headshot of Janet Gilmore in front of plants

BA English Language and Literature, Reed College; MA and PhD in Folklore, Indiana University, Bloomington

Campus Affiliations
Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, Department of Scandinavian Studies, Buildings Landscapes Cultures Program UW-Milwaukee

Research Interests
preservation, conservation, historical preservation


Janet Gilmore is a folklorist whose research, teaching, and outreach integrate folklore and landscape perspectives and methodologies. Landscape study is embedded in her research in maritime occupational communities, foodways, and festivals and celebrations in the Upper Midwest and home territory of the Pacific Northwest. She infuses the study of cultural landscape preservation and landscape history with ethnographic methodologies, the National Register traditional cultural property model, and Folklore’s concepts of cultural conservation.


Janet unites varied landscape and folklore approaches especially in her teaching, which requires ethnographic exercises and reflection in class and assignments, and involves students in aspects of professional public folklore and cultural landscape preservation practice. In turn, in recent years, she has begun to publish, with student involvement, insights she has gained from her “ethnography in the classroom” approach and her teaching of field school and lab type classes. She enjoys “sensing landscape” explorations.

  • Foodways
  • Cultural Landscapes of Food
  • Festivals & Celebrations
  • Cultural Resource Preservation & Landscape History
  • Field School: Ethnography of Wisconsin, often with
  • Historic Preservation Planning Workshop
  • Ethnic Representations in Wisconsin
  • Methods in Historic/Cultural Resource Preservation

Public Folklore:

Since the 1980s, Janet has worked as an independent public folklorist and humanities consultant, documenting and presenting folk artists, their handiwork and the creative process, in a variety of public formats such as exhibits and festivals. Through the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, she now collaborates with folklore colleagues, archivists, archivists-in-training, and digital librarians on numerous nationally-funded projects to identify, catalog, and make accessible publicly-funded folklife documentary collections and productions generated in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest since the 1970s.


  • 2012 Dr. Brenda Pfaehler Award of Excellence, UW–Madison Center for Educational Opportunity
  • 2007 Brenda McCallum Prize, American Folklore Society Archives & Libraries Section

University Affiliations:

  • Department of Scandinavian Studies
  • Material Culture Certificate Program
  • Buildings Landscapes Cultures Program with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Recent Consulting &/or Teaching Relationships:

  • Chippewa Valley Museum, Eau Claire, WI
  • Folklore Village, Dodgeville, WI
  • Wisconsin Arts Board, Madison
  • Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office, Madison


On Practice:

2012   Teaching Practice through Fieldwork Course Design,” Western Folklore 70: 3/4 (Summer Fall 2011): 255-85

2012   Editor-in-Chief, with Anna V. Andrzejewski, Thomas Carter, and student designer Dee Finnegan. Summer Field School 2009 in Wiota Wisconsin (Wiota booklet selection). University of Wisconsin–Madison Dept. of Landscape Architecture. 56-page 11 x 17 color booklet.

2012   With Troy Reeves. “Case Study: Oral History, Folklore, and Vernacular Architecture,” on Oral History in the Digital Age website, Institute of Museum and Library Services, http://ohda.matrix.msu.edu/2012/06/oral-history-folklore-and-vernacular-architecture/

On Foodways:

2013   “University Students, Foodways, and the Immigrant Process.” In The Return of Traditional Food: Proceedings of the 19th International Ethnological Food Research Conference, Lund University, Sweden, 2012, ed. Patricia Lysaght, 241-249.  Lund, Sweden: Lund University. http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/o.o.i.sid=12683&postid=4053889

2012   “Booyah Feasts.” In Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, 2nd ed., ed. Andrew F. Smith.  New York: Oxford University Press.

2011 “Hot Peppers in Pasty Territory:  Food Pluralism, Sustainability, and the Need for Ethnography” in “Selected Abstracts from the 2010 Annual Conference of the Joint Meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), and the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN), 2-5 June 2010, Bloomington, IN, USA,” Appetite 56: 2 (April): 529.

2010   [“Centered on Food”] “On Key Ingredients,” Wisconsin Humanities Council Newsletter ON, Winter 2011, panels 3-7. http://www.wisconsinhumanities.org/downloads/whc_onwinter2011_WEB.pdf

2007   “Wisconsin’s Friday Night Fish Fry Tradition.” www.classicwisconsin.com

2004   “Sagamité and Booya:  French Influence in Defining Great Lakes Culinary Heritage.” Material History Review/Revue d’ histoire de la culture matérielle 60: 58-69.  Ottawa, ON:  Canada Science and Technology Museum.

2003   “‘Pretty Hungry for Fish’:  Fish Foodways among the Commercial Fishing People of the Western Shore of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay,” Midwestern Folklore 29: 1 (Spring): 1-43.

On Maritime Folklife & Landscapes:

2007   “Fish Tugs.”  In The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia, Folklore Section, Ed. Richard Sisson, Christian Zacher, and Andrew Cayton, pp. 358-59.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press.

2007   “Flatboats.”  In The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia, Folklore Section, ed. Richard Sisson, Christian Zacher, and Andrew Cayton, pp. 414-15.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press.

1999   The World of the Oregon Fishboat: A Study in Maritime Folklife.  2nd ed., with new preface and cover.  Pullman:  Washington State University Press. First edition, Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1986.

1999   “‘We Made ‘Em to Fit Our Purpose’:  The Northern Lake Michigan Fishing Skiff Tradition.” In Wisconsin Folklore, ed. James P. Leary, pp. 457-75.  Madison:  University of Wisconsin Press. First edition in The Old Traditional Way of Life:  Essays in Honor of Warren E. Roberts, ed. Robert E. Walls and George H. Schoemaker, pp. 58-78.  Bloomington, IN:  Trickster Press.

1996   “Fishing (commercial).”  In American Folklore:  An Encyclopedia, ed. Jan Harold Brunvand, pp. 271-73.  New York:  Garland Publishing.

1994   Luanne Kozma, with Janet C. Gilmore and Jay C. Martin..  Marlinespikes and Monkey’s Fists:  Traditional Arts and Knot-Tying Skills of Maritime Workers.  East Lansing: Michigan State University Museum.

1990   “Fisherman Stereotypes:  Sources and Symbols.”  Canadian Folklore Canadien 12: 2: 17-38.

On Ethnic Landscapes & Folks Arts:

2012   “Restless Spirits on the Driftless Landscape” and “Cottonwood Dairy.” In From Mining to Farm Fields to Ethnic Communities: Buildings and Landscapes of Southwestern Wisconsin, Vernacular Architecture Forum Madison meeting tour book, ed. Anna V. Andrzejewski, Arnold R. Alanen, and Sarah Fayen Scarlett, 34-55 and 335-41.  University of Wisconsin–Madison Dept. of Art History.

2009   “Mount Horeb’s Oljanna Venden Cunneen, A Norwegian-American Rosemaler ‘on the Edge.’” “Nordic Spaces” issue of ARV: Yearbook of Nordic Folklore 65: 25-47.

2008   With Richard March.  Woodland Ways:  Folk Arts Apprenticeships among Wisconsin Indians.  Madison: Wisconsin Arts Board. http://artsboard.wisconsin.gov/docview.asp?docid=20357&locid=171

2004   “Rosemaling.”  In Encyclopedia of American Folk Art, ed. Gerard C. Wertkin, pp. 440-44.  New York: Routledge.

1999   “Work at Rest.”  In Wisconsin Folklore, ed. James P. Leary, pp. 407-31.  Madison:  University of Wisconsin Press.

1997   “Marking Time, Honoring Connections, Recording Meaning.”  In Wisconsin Folk Art:  A Sesquicentennial Celebration, ed. Robert T. Teske, pp. 29-45.  Cedarburg, WI:  Cedarburg Cultural Center.

1989   “Making Something out of ‘Nothing’.”  In The Folk Arts of Washington State:  A Survey of Contemporary Folk Arts and Artists in the State of Washington, ed. Jens Lund, pp. 67-77.  Tumwater, WA:  Washington State Folklife Council.

1987   With James P. Leary.  “Cultural Forms, Personal Visions.”  In From Hardanger to Harleys:  A Survey of Wisconsin Folk Art, ed. Robert T. Teske, pp. 13-22.  Sheboygan, WI:  John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

On Collections & Access:

Since 2004     Editor-in-chief, with on-line editors Julia Wong (2011-2014), Karen J. Baumann (2007-2009), and Nicole Saylor (2005-2006). Public Folk Arts and Folklife Projects of the Upper Midwest (Center for the Center of Upper Midwestern Cultures).  In Archival Resources in Wisconsin: Descriptive Finding Aids, University of Wisconsin Digital Collections, http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/WIArchives.CSUMC

2013   With Mark Livengood and Carrie Roy. Woodland Indian Traditional Artists virtual reproduction of photo-text exhibit “‘The Only Way to Get It Is to Make It’: The Experiences of Woodland Indian Traditional Artists,” curated by James P. Leary, Lewis Koch, and Janet C. Gilmore (Mt. Horeb: Wisconsin Folk Museum, 1995).  UW–Madison Folklore Program website, http://vanhise.lss.wisc.edu/folklore/?q=woodland

2013   With Julia Wong. “Woodland Indian Traditional Artist Project,” University of Wisconsin Digital Collections, http://uwdc.library.wisc.edu/collections/Arts/Woodland

2013   “UWDC Woodland Indian Traditional Artist Profect Collection Infuses New and Continuing Life into Analog Documentation,” University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries News & Events, June 17, 2013.


2010   With Karen J. Baumann, Mary Hoefferle, and James P. Leary. “Folklore Student Research Papers Collection,” University Archives (Accession 2010/002 61H1).

2009-2010    With Laura Wynholds, Carrie Roy, and Rob Howard, aided by Dorothea Salo of UW Digital Collections. “Upper Midwestern Digital Folklore Archives” portal. UW–Madison Digital Collections Minds@UW (see http://uwdcc.library.wisc.edu/minds/) at http://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/32119

2009   With Karen J. Baumann, Mary Hoefferle, Sarah Roberts, and Sara Ziemendorf Nagreen. “Preservation and Access” web page at http://csumc.wisc.edu/, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures website, UW–Madison, including:

  • “Archiving Projects, 2002-2010” list
  • “Public Folklore Collections in the Upper Midwest” 2008 poster
  • “Searchable Online Collection Guides” link
  • “Survey of Public Folklore Collections in the Upper Midwest,” by Nicole Saylor, updated pdf version
  • Survey questionnaire (found under “Archiving Projects, 2002-2010”)
  • “Regional Survey Report’s Key Findings”
  • “Surveyed Folklore Collections” digest with links