Folklorist at Connecticut River Museum wears a variety of hats

ESSEX, Conn. (WTNH) — A folklorist is called a number of things. A storyteller. A teacher. A historian. Even a detective.

Stephen Gencarella is the Resident Folklorist at the Connecticut River Museum, and to him, the job revolves around sharing stories.

“What you do as a folklorist is try to build a repertoire of stories, of material things,” he explained.

Folklorists know that their work can help bring people together by sharing common themes and values in their stories.

“You’re always looking for the stuff that binds people together,” Gencarella stated.

This work is of utmost important to those who have a story or two to tell.

“The importance of storytelling cannot be underestimated,” he explained. “We are the stories that we tell ourselves and we are the stories that we don’t tell ourselves. It’s stories that give us a sense of how to make sense of the world. In terms of what are the facts and what is the folklore, it’s always fluid. As a professional folklorist I always put my skeptics hat on so I assume there’s no truth to it, I like to be surprised if there are any facts.”

While this job may not be for everyone, those who have a special knack for it clearly love it.

“It’s just one of those jobs you gotta love because any day is going to be a new one from there,” he said. “Never in a million years did I think it would work out and I feel like the luckiest man on earth that it did.”


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