The Folklore Foundation was established at Vassar by the gift of an anonymous donor.  Anthropologist Martha Warren Beckwith, who had studied with Franz Boas at Columbia, joined the faculty as research professor on the Folklore Foundation, the first such post in the country.

Beckwith taught a folklore seminar each semester, and her students often gathered examples of Hudson Valley folklore, some of which President MacCracken used in Blythe Dutchess (1958).   In all, the Folklore Foundation issued 14 volumes of research by Beckwith and others, and it sponsored lectures and programs including in 1932 a presentation by girls from Hawaii, one of Beckwith’s primary research areas.

The project’s donor, Beckwith’s childhood friend Annie Alexander, a naturalist and sugar heiress, had promised support for the classes, lectures and publications for as long as Beckwith was associated with Vassar.  Despite efforts by Beckwith and President MacCracken to extend it, the foundation’s work ended with her retirement in1938.