Hector Lee (1908–1992)

Author of Heroes, Villains, and Ghosts: Folklore of Old California

Includes the names: Hector Lee

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Short biography
“People remember certain things. Every storyteller retains what he considers the most important facts, leaves out what he
thinks is less relevant, and adds what he deems necessary to make the story better. The result is an artistic creation.”
Dr. Hector Lee was a Northern California treasure. A nationally known authority on western folklore, Dr. Lee was first and
foremost a storyteller. Whether in the classroom or via a weekly radio show, Lee embraced storytelling with passion and
creative flair.
Hector Lee grew up in Texas and Utah. After Earning a B.A. from the University of Utah in 1935, he attended UC Berkeley and
completed his Ph.D. at University of New Mexico in 1946. While assistant professor of western literature at Chico State he
was noticed by Dr. Ambrose Nichols, the first president of Sonoma State University, and asked him to take a teaching
position at the new college in Cotati. Not long after, radio station KSRO began broadcasting his storytelling in a show entitled
“Tales of the Redwood Empire”
Just as important a role as storyteller was that of collector of folklore and folk life. Over the years Dr. Lee and his students
amassed a 42-volume archive, which is now a part of the North Bay Regional Collection at Sonoma State University Library,
Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center. Each volume contains regional stories and legends collected by his students and
recounted by community members throughout northern California. From tales of stone fences and water towers, to home
remedies and family recipes, the stories recount the rich and diverse cultures of Northern California.
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