Since its publication in 1915, Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans has been not only a valuable addition to the catalogue of American folklore but also a vital resource in preserving a linguistic culture and traditions that were already fading from the American consciousness. Edwin Miller Fogel's years of research in both Pennsylvania and Germany led to this collection, the most complete of its time, of more than two thousand Pennsylvania German aphorisms.
This work displays a panorama of beliefs reflecting every aspect of Pennsylvania German life, from superstitions about childbirth and babies (such as "A child born on Sunday will become saucy") to concerns over marriage, farming, religion, medicine, and death. A section on sex that was originally available only to readers who requested it "for purely scientific use" has been included as an appendix to the Metalmark edition.
Each entry in the collection is composed of a saying in the Pennsylvania German dialect and an English translation, followed, where applicable, by a correlated phrase recorded in Germany or the British Isles and a listing of counties in which the phrase was recorded. Fogel's comprehensive introduction explores the historical origins of these superstitions and the intricacies of his methods for phonetic notation and translation to English.