Blue Men and River Monsters: Folklore of the North

By John Zimm

Paperback: $18.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-670-2

244 pages, 23 illus., 6 x 9 E-book Edition Available


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Edited by John Zimm

Foreword by Michael Edmonds

The north is a treasure trove of folklore. From magical creatures of the old country to legends of the mysterious and macabre, this lore is a record of the stories people held on to and the customs, foods, and cures that filled their lives. Collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Program, a Depression-era works project, these are the stories of Norwegian and Swiss immigrants, Native American medicine men and storytellers, and pioneers with memories of the earliest days of settlement in the Old Northwest. In search of stories, legends, songs, and other scraps of traditional knowledge, researchers fanned out across Wisconsin and other states. The resulting handwritten notes, thousands of pages in length, capture history as people remembered it. Blue Men and River Monsters collects the most interesting and noteworthy of these tales, placing them alongside stunning artwork collected by the Federal Art Project in Wisconsin. Peruse these pages and discover a new history of the people and places of the old north.

John Zimm received a BA in history from the University of Wisconsin –Madison and has worked for the Wisconsin Historical Society Press since 2002. His articles have appeared in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, and he is the editor of This Wicked Rebellion: Wisconsin Civil War Soldiers Write Home and the author of The Wisconsin Historical Society: Collecting, Preserving, and Sharing Stories since 1846.

"This a treasure chest for those intrigued by folklore...this volume is an invaluable way to hold onto our communal past so it does not become part of those 'days that are forgotten.'" -Konnie LeMay, Editor, Lake Superior Magazine

"Eighty years ago, in the middle of the Great Depression, the U.S. government put Wisconsin writers and artists to work with an epic project, the results of which remained rolled up on microfilm in the Library of Congress for decades. Now John Zimm, an editor at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, has culled through those rolls and compiled what he found into a book… Kudos to John Zimm for saving this slice of Wisconsin social history from obscurity." -Michael Popke, Isthmus Magazine