Celebrating Our Culture  

Southern Ghostlore
by Joyce Dixon

There are several reasons for the wealth of ghostlore in the South.  The Civil War left a tragic spirit hanging over the region and gave birth to tales of ghost armies and haunting belles.  The Voodoo religion and trying to understand the unknown has lead to the creation of many tales.  Folklorist Alan Brown credits the variety of cultures – African American, French, Hispanic, and Scotch-Irish – for coloring the storytelling traditions of the South with ghostlore. 

Storytellers and folklorists preserve the rich heritage of supernatural tales in the region.  Some noted ghostlorists include: Alan Brown, Charles Edwin Price, and Nancy Roberts. 

Alan Brown.  Professor of English at the University of West Alabama, Alan Brown has become known for his collection of Alabama oral history and ghost stories.  His latest book Shadows and Cypress: Ghostlore from the American South (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2000) is a comprehensive resource of the region’s supernatural history.  Brown’s current projects include “Haunts from the Heart of Dixie,” a video of Alabama ghost tales; and the creation of an Alabama folklore web site.  He lectures on the topics of “Ghosts, Graveyards, and Sitting with the Dead: Alabama Deathlore” and “Mysteries and Legends of Alabama.”  

Charles Edwin Price.  A course in Scottish Studies a decade ago, sparked journalist Charles Price’s interest in collecting ghostlore.  The paper he created for the course became Haints, Witches, and Boogers: Tales of Upper East Tennessee (John F. Blair, 1992).  In the past seven years, Price has written fifteen books mainly collections of ghostlore from Tennessee and Virginia.   

Nancy Roberts. Known as the “Queen of the Ghost Story” and the “First Lady of Folklore,” Nancy Roberts has been collecting Southern ghostlore for four decades.  As a member of the National Storytelling Association, she performs her collection of pirate stories and ghostlore from the Carolinas and Georgia.  She has authored over twenty-five books.  Roberts is currently compiling a new ghost tales book to be published by the University of North Carolina Press in Spring of 2001.   

Sites of Interest

 Charles Edwin Price – Folklorist of Southern Ghostlore
Nancy Roberts – Folklorist of Southern Ghostlore
The Moonlit Road
Haunted Houses of America
Ghosts of the Prairie

Books of Southern Ghostlore

The Infamous Bell Witch of Tennessee, by Charles Edwin Price. The Overmountain Press, 1994. 

Haunted Tennessee, by Charles Edwin Price. The Overmountain Press. 

Haints, Witches, and Boogers: Tales from Upper East Tennessee, by Charles Edwin Price and Richard Blaustein.  John F. Blair Pub., 1992. 

Shadows and Cypress: Ghostlore from the Southern United States, by Alan Brown. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2000. 

Southern Fried Spirits, by Robert J. Wlodarski, Anne Powell Wlodarski. Republic of Texas Press, 2000. 

Ghosts: Washington Revisited (The Ghostlore of the Nation’s Capital), by John Alexander. Schiffer Pubishing, 1998. 

Angels and Apparitions: True Ghost Stories from the South, by Barbara N. Duffey. Elysian Publishing Co., 1997. 

Ghost Tales for Retelling, by Idella Bodie, edited by Barbara Stone.  Sandlapper Pub. Co., 1994. 

The Face in the Window and Other Alabama Ghostlore, by Alan Brown. University of Alabama Press, 1996. 

The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural, by Pat McKissack.  Knopf, 1996. 

Ghosts of the Southern Mountains and Appalachia, by Nancy Roberts. University of South Carolina Press, 1989. 

The Haunted South: Where Ghosts Still Roam, by Nancy Roberts. University of South Carolina Press, 1988. 

Ghost Stories from the American South, edited by W. K. McNeil. August House Pub., 1985.

© 2000 Joyce Dixon, All Rights Reserved