Georg and Marguerite Bidstrup
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Georg and Marguerite Bidstrup were folk dance teachers, festival organizers, and administrators of the John C. Campbell Folk School in western North Carolina.
Marguerite Butler Bidstrup was born in 1892. She was educated at Vassar College and went to Kentucky's Pine Mountain Settlement School to teach, remaining there for eight years. Having met John and Olive Campbell at the annual Conference of Southern Mountain Workers, Butler and Olive Campbell began a lifelong relationship focused on education and folk culture after John's death.
Butler accompanied Campbell to Denmark in 1922 where they studied Danish folk schools and, in England, visited with folklorist Cecil Sharp at his folk dance school. After their return in 1925, Butler traveled to Murphy, North Carolina, looking for a place to locate a folk school. Pledging land and labor, local citizens encouraged her to consider their Brasstown as a suitable site. In 1925 the John C. Campbell Folk School was established in western North Carolina, with Marguerite Butler as assistant to Director Olive Campbell.
In 1926 Georg Bidstrup, who was born in 1902, came to America to live and work at the folk school grounds to manage the farm. He was a Danish farm manager and gymnastics instructor. Georg had probably met Olive Campbell and Marguerite Butler in the early 1920s during their visit to Denmark where they studied national folk schools.
At the Campbell Folk School Georg worked with a handful of residential students to turn the school's acreage into a working farm. He was joined by Leon Deschamps, a forester and engineer. Together, they built the campus and attempted to create a demonstration farm to serve local farmers. They re-routed Brasstown Creek, installed a water system, improved the land, constructed buildings, and organized a number of farming cooperatives. The school supported a local creamery and poultry cooperative to assist local farmers with marketing their agricultural products.
Georg taught gymnastics and folk dancing at the school. Margaret Butler, as the school's assistant director, shared in folk dance. In 1936 they married and, together, remained at the folk school for the next 30 years. In 1952 Bidstrup took over as director of the school; he retired in 1969.
1970 The North Carolina Folklore Society presented the couple with the Brown-Hudson Folklore Award, made to persons who have in special ways contributed to the appreciation, continuation, or study of North Carolina folk traditions.
Georg died in 1971 and Marguerite in 1982.
Georg and Marguerite's articles and publications include
The above information is courtesy of the Western Carolina University, Crafts Revival Section (www.wcu.edu/library/DigitalCollections/CraftRevival/).