Judith McCulloh, 1935-2014

Michael Bertrand's picture

In the late-1980s, Judith McCulloh, while working a book exhibit at a national conference, took the time to talk with an anonymous and unsophisticated history student preparing to embark on his doctoral studies. The meeting was a chance one; nevertheless, she listened patiently and attentively as he rambled on about his research interests. At the discussion's conclusion, she encouraged him to continue his work, emphasizing that one day he would be ready to show the world what he had written. Although he was one of the innumerable "authors" she had endured in similar  settings on countless occasions, she conveyed to him a passion about music scholarship that knew no bounds. The young man walked  away feeling that he had met someone who cared deeply about her craft and the people who aspired to it. Her honesty, warmth, and sincerity made a powerful impression. Having had the great fortune to work with her some years later, that first impression was only solidified. No writer could have asked for a better editor, and no writer ever found a greater friend.

Ms. McCulloh, longtime editor at the University of Illinois Press and a leading pioneer in the fields of folklore, ethnomusicology,and popular music scholarship, passed away on July 13, 2014.

She will be missed. 

For further insights into her life and legacy, please see:     

Library of Congress Folklife Today  

National Endowment for the Arts 

Society of Ethnomusicology 

The News-Gazette of Central Illinois 


michael t. bertrand