William H. "Bill" Wiggins
Shortly after he and his wife Janice first arrived in Bloomington in 1969, William H. "Bill" Wiggins entered the doctoral program in IU's Folklore Institute. Bill went on to be the first male African American to receive a Ph.D. in folklore, and he focused his academic work on festivals, folklore and literature, folk drama, and folk heroes.
Bill spent 34 years at IU in what is today called the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies. He was an original member of the department and devoted much time and energy to making IU a place where African American students would feel welcome, especially during the 1960s and 1970s. Bill represented folklore and folk culture in the department, creating such courses as The Black Church in America and, with John Moe, the basic Survey of the Culture of Black Americans. Throughout the course of his career, he taught and mentored thousands of students, and established himself as one of the cornerstones of Indiana University's faculty.
Bill retired in 2003 after more than three decades of teaching, and he passed away in December 2016. He is survived by his wife Janice, their children Wesley Howard and Mary Ellyn, a grandson, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.