William Wells Newell

William Wells Newell (1839 - 1907) was an American folklorist, school teacher, minister and philosophy professor.


Newell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Divinity School.[1] After trying his hand at ministry, he was a faculty member at the new philosophy department at Harvard University for a few years. However, the bulk of Newell's career was as a school teacher. He taught at the Wells School, founded by his grandfather, William Wells and situated on Elmwood Avenue.[2] Newell founded the American Folklore Society in 1888 where he edited the Journal of American Folklore.[3] His best known work is Games and Songs of American Children (1883, Mineola, N. Y.). The songs included tunes with the lyrics, and is the first collection of folk music of American children.


The American Folklore Society's Children's Folklore Section awards the annual W. W. Newell Prize, which is presented for the best student essay.[4]


  1. Chamberlain, Alexander F. (1907). "William Wells Newell - 1839-1907". American Anthropologist. 9 (2): 366–376. doi:10.1525/aa.1907.9.2.02a00110.
  2. The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred Ninety Six, ed Arthur Gilman, Riverside Press, Cambridge, MA 1896, p. 38
  3. Bell, Michael J (Jun–Aug 1973). "William Wells Newell and the Foundation of American Folklore Scholarship". Journal of the Folklore Institute. 10 (1/2). JSTOR 3813877.
  4. "W.W. Newell Prize". American Folklore Society. Retrieved December 28, 2011. The Children's Folklore Section annually offers the W. W. Newell Prize, which includes a cash award, for the best student essay on a topic in children's folklore.
  • Dictionary of American Biography
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