The Bunny Man Unmasked - Page 3
The Bunny Man Unmasked:
The Real Life Origins of an Urban Legend
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Fact vs. Folklore
After nearly eight years of research I finally got a solid lead. The November 11, 2000 Washington Post28 ran an article highlighting an interesting collection called the Maryland Folklore Archive. From the 1950s through c. 1990, students at three Maryland universities collected, researched, and transcribed numerous local legends. This material has finally come to rest in the holdings of the University of Maryland. In 1973, University of Maryland student Patricia Johnson submitted a paper titled "The Bunny Man."29 This paper was compiled as part of the course work for a class entitled Introduction to Folklore (English 460). She interviewed 33 students from Prince Georges County, Maryland ages 15 to 18.
Ms. Johnson relates that the tale met all of the qualifications of an Urban Belief Tale.30 Specifically, it (1) takes place in an urban setting, (2) existed prior to her project, and (3) had appeared in print as truth. She goes on to state "included in this collection is an article from the Washington Post which verifies the story as truth."31 This was an important claim as I had found no primary sources to date. I was extremely frustrated to find that the page containing the referenced article was missing from the original paper. With any hope of a quick resolution gone, I turned to examining the paper itself. Johnson's informants told 54 variations of the story. A rough tally revealed the following:
a. Fourteen different geographic locations are mentioned
b. Eighteen involve the Bunny Man chasing or frightening people, usually children, with a hatchet or ax
c. Fourteen tell of attacks on cars
d. Nine claim he attacked a couple parked in a car
e. Five accuse him of vandalism on homes or buildings
f. Only three mentioned a murder
Based on the widespread geographic locations and the significant variation represented in the tales Johnson concluded that the Bunny Man was an Urban Belief Tale. In short, the Bunny Man did not exist.
28Reel, Monte, Famed Goatman Forever Held in Dusty Room. Washington Post, Nov,. 11, 2000, B4.
29Johnson, Patricia C. The Bunny Man (May 12, 1973). Maryland Folklore Archive, Box 32. Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, College Park, Md.