University of Arizona

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Papers of Byrd Howell Granger

University of Arizona Parade, 1966

Byrd Howell Granger is best known for her work as a Southwestern Folklore author and researcher. In 1934, she received her B.A. in Zoology from Goucher College. She went on to become the Assistant Director of the Advisory Committee for the New York World's Fair from 1937-1940. She opened her own public relations firm, Byrd Howell Associates, and remained at the firm until 1942 when Granger elected to join the war effort by serving in the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) Squadron, which she ultimately became a commanding officer in the Air Transport Command.

After the war, she had thoughts of moving West to Tucson, Arizona. Granger agreed to a substitute teaching job and immediately discovered a passion for teaching. Having been a writer both professionally and vocationally, she decided to take a position as an English instructor at the University and went on to receive her M.A. in English from the same institution in 1953.

After receiving her degree, Granger flew, drove, and trekked throughout Arizona, revising and enlarging Will C. Barnes' 1935Arizona Place Names visiting and corresponding with hundreds of people. Arizona Place Names was finally published in 1960. By 1962, she had earned her Ph.D. in English from UCLA under the guidance of Folklorist Wayland D. Hand (dissertation title: The Talk of the Place: Folk History of the Place Names and Legends of Places in Arizona, May 1962, 590 pp).

Granger was a full professor of English and Folklore until her retirement in 1976 and developed the Folklore and Cultural Awareness program. During her tenure Granger was also active in several Folklore societies and many civic organizations. Granger also pursued her leisure interests which included photography, fishing, and camping. 

In 1983, she published Arizona's Names: X Marks the Place, a revision of the 1960 Place Names book. Just before her death in 1991, she published a history of the WASP entitled On Final Approach. Her travels took her to such places as Denmark, Greece, Guatemala, Singapore, Sweden, and the United Kingdom to name only a few. Her most enduring and documented legacy will be her contribution to the understanding and appreciation of the folklore of all peoples. She was particularly influential in bringing the culture, stories, and lore of Southwestern Native Americans to the collective consciousness of Arizona historians. 

Papers (1945-1990) of Folklorist and University of Arizona professor Byrd Howell Granger. Includes biographical information, correspondence, manuscripts, research notes and audiovisual material. The bulk of the collection represents Granger's scholarly works and activities in the fields of English Literature and Southwestern, particularly Arizona, folklore.

The bulk of the material itself consists of published and unpublished manuscripts of papers and books. Of particular interest are unpublished manuscripts of creative works and several draft chapters of an unfinished book entitled Legends and Folklore of Indians of the Southwest. The collection also contains a sizable amount of correspondence the majority of which concerns data collection for the 1960 edition of Arizona Place Names. These letters document accounts of place name origins that were not necessarily included in the published book. Also of note are several oral history transcripts which document the history of Tucson, Arizona as well as that of other Southwestern locations.