What is folk culture? What distinguishes true folk creations from the cultural hybrids of commerce and popular innovation? To clarify this muddled situation and to provide clear standards and visual examples for the study and appreciation of a broad range of objects, Henry Glassie has written this detailed examination of material folk culture in the United States. He isolates American material culture—that segment of our culture that embodies the people's plans, methods, and reasons for producing things that can be seen and touched—and discusses methods for determining whether an object is truly folk—as opposed, say, to merely popular—by examining its form, construction, and use.
The book represents the first attempt to compare different kinds of material folk culture, including architecture, tools, and cookery, to detect common patterns and, in doing so, challenges conventional views of both folk culture and American culture.