The University of Arizona Folklore Committee, founded in 1943 by Professor Frances Gillmor, created the Folklore Archive in 1945 to conserve folkloric materials being collected statewide by the interdepartmental Committee. The committee collected songs, tales, remedies, and interviews from all over Arizona, with some extensions into Sonora, Mexico. Dr. Gillmor chaired the committee until her retirement, when Dr. Byrd H. Granger assumed the chair. Upon Granger's retirement in 1978, the Folklore Committee was dissolved. In 1979 the University of Arizona Southwest Folklore Center was created to continue its functions, and it assumed the Folklore Archive into its materials.
The focus of the material collected by the Folklore Committee was narrative and folk music traditions of English and Spanish-speaking peoples of the Southwest. The committee collected only a small amount of material concerning Native American folklore.
Mexican-U.S. border folklore is strongly represented in the collection, which includes corridos and other songs, and tales and interviews concerning old customs. Mormon folklore also forms a significant portion of the collection, particularly songs. Much of the material is the product of collections by schools, clubs, and University folklore classes.
The manuscript material dates from 1945 through 1979. There are four user copies cross-filed under subject, county, collector, and informant, with a master file arranged by county of origin. The subject headings include such large divisions as Tales, Songs, Riddles, Rhymes, Proverbs, Recipes, History, Medicine, Games, Festivals, Drama, Dance, and Customs, further subdivided by the culture of origin. The most heavily collected categories are "Songs," "Narrative - Personal Experience (Historical)," and "Narrative - Local Legends (Arizona)."
Also represented are administrative files, including Committee correspondence and annual reports which detail the Committee's accomplishments over the previous year. Taped and recorded materials which correspond to some of the materials in this collection are located in the following Southwest Folklore Center manuscript collections: L. Marguerite Collier Collection, SWF 005; Southwest Folklore Center Pre-1980 Phonodisc Collection, SWF 007; and Southwest Folklore Center Field Recording Collection, SWF 011.