PUCKETT, NEWBELL NILES (8 July 1898-21 Feb. 1967), educator, sociologist, and folklorist, was born in Columbus, Miss., to Willis Newbell and Matilda (Boyd) Puckett. He received his B.S. (1918) from Mississippi College at Clinton, and his Ph.B. (1920), A.M. (1921), and Ph.D. (1925) from Yale University. In 1919 he was a hospital apprentice in the Navy, joining the sociology faculty of Western Reserve University in 1922. He was appointed professor in 1938, and was chairman of the Sociology Dept. from 1954-62.
Puckett's life was devoted to traditional folk cultures, from black studies to ethnic traditions, rural and urban. He studied naming practices, superstitions, folk beliefs, wit and humor, and religious beliefs on field trips to the Deep South, throughout Ohio, and into the Canadian wilderness. He was president of the Ohio and Cleveland folklore societies and elected a fellow of the American Folklore Society (1959). Puckett wrote Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro (1926) and Names of American Negro Slaves (1937), and offered a pioneering course in black studies at WRU. He compiled detailed, extensive collections of data on "Black Names," "Religious Life of the Southern Negro," "Canadian Lumberjack Songs," and "Ohio Superstitions and Popular Beliefs." His papers, tapes, transcripts, and photographs are part of the Newbell Niles Puckett Memorial Gift deposited in the John G. White Collection of CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY.
Puckett was married twice. His first wife was Marion A. Randall (d. 1959) whom he married in 1923. He then married Ruth Neuer in 1960. Puckett had three children: Randy W., Robert K., and Sally N. He is buried in Knollwood Mausoleum.