Remembering Jim Bailey

Emeritus James Orville Bailey, Jr.

Jim died at the age of 90 on July 20, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin. He was born in 1929 in La Junta, Colorado, but grew up in California. After graduating from the University of Southern California, he served for several years in the US Army, studying Russian at the Army Language School in Monterey, California. Jim received his MA in Slavic Studies at Indiana University in 1958 and his PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University in 1965. He taught in the Slavic Department at UW-Madison from 1967 until his retirement in 1995. At UW-Madison he served at various times as Department Chair, Head of the Russian Area Studies Program, and Head of the Folklore Program, which he also helped to found in the early 1980s.

Jim spent many decades devoted to the study of Russian folklore, traveling frequently to Russia to carry out research and visit colleagues. He published numerous articles and several books on folklore, and he collaborated on an anthology of translations of Russian epics. He helped to organize and also served as President of the Slavic and East European Folklore Association. A panel, “Building Bridges with Words and Deeds: Honoring Jim Bailey,” was held at the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society in Baltimore in October 2019.

Jim is survived by his wife Hanna, their sons Geoffrey Bailey and Michael Bailey, and by two grandchildren. The family has requested that donations be made to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Dane County, Inc.

A memorial resolution will be read at a meeting of the UW-Madison Faculty Senate on October 5, 2020.

Tributes from Jim’s colleagues:

Margaret Beissinger, Princeton University

Maria Carlson, University of Kansas

Benjamin Rifkin, Hofstra University

Barry Scherr, Dartmouth College

Gerald Smith, University of Oxford