Giuseppe Pitrè (21 December 1841 – 10 April 1916), the great Italian folklorist was also a medical doctor, professor, and senator in Sicily. As a folklorist he is credited with extending the realm of folklore to include all the manifestations of popular life. He was also a forerunner in the field of medical history.
Pitrè was born in Palermo. After serving as a volunteer in 1860 under Garibaldi, and graduating in medicine in 1866, he threw himself into the study of literature, and wrote the first scientific studies on Italian popular culture, pioneering Italian ethnographic study. He founded the study of "folk psychology", in Sicily, teaching at the University of Palermo.
Between 1871 and 1913, he compiled the Biblioteca delle tradizioni popolari siciliane ("Library of Sicilian popular traditions"), a collection of Sicilian oral culture in twenty-five volumes.
Pitrè's Fiabe, novelle e racconti popolari siciliani (Sicilian Fairy Tales, Stories, and Folktales), 1875, documenting Sicily's rich folkloric heritage derived from both European and Middle Eastern traditions, is the culmination of the great European folklore scholarship that began earlier in the nineteenth century. Against the cultural grain of his times, Pitrè championed the common people of Sicily and their customs, and his scholarship of oral narrative tradition is arguably as significant as that of the Brothers Grimm.
In 1882 Pitrè founded the Archive for the Study of the Popular Traditions, and in 1894 he published a basic bibliography of the Italian popular traditions. Palermo's Museo Antropologico Etnografico Siciliano was founded in his memory. Pitrè was made an honorary member of the American Folklore Society in 1890.
- Works by Giuseppe Pitrè at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Giuseppe Pitrè at Internet Archive
- Martinengo-Cesaresco, Evelyn. "Giuseppe Pitrè (Obituary)" Folk-Lore. Volume 27, 1916. pp. 314–316.