This announcement is being sent to a number of lists. Please accept our
apologies for any duplicate posts.
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is proud to
present its newest online collection: Florida Folklife from the WPA
Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections is now available online
through the Library of Congress American Memory Web site at the
The online presentation provides access to 376 sound recordings made in
Florida in 1939-40 under the auspices of several government-funded arts
projects. Using recording equipment loaned by the Archive of American
Folk Song (now the American Folklife Center) at the Library of Congress,
the WPA staff documented folktales, life histories, and sacred and
secular music of cultures and communities throughout Florida. The
recordings are augmented by 106 accompanying materials, including
recording logs, song text transcriptions, correspondence between Florida
WPA workers and Library of Congress personnel from 1937 to 1942, and an
essay on Florida folklife by Zora Neale Hurston. The online presentation
of these rich historic materials is made possible by the generous
support of The Texaco Foundation.
WPA staff traveled throughout twelve Florida counties with the Library's
recording equipment in tow, collecting blues and work songs from
menhaden fishing boats, railroad gangs, and turpentine camps; and
children's songs, dance music, and religious music from schools, homes,
and churches. They often interviewed the performers,
documenting their lives as well as their folksongs. Links are provided
from the Florida WPA collection to the American Life Histories:
Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940
collectionalready available through the Library of Congress American
Memory Web sitewhen a performer’s life has been documented in writing
as well as on acetate disk.
Florida writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, an editor for the
Florida Federal Writers' Project from 1938-39, described pockets of rich
cultural material in the state in her essay, "Proposed Recording
Expedition into the Floridas," included with the online presentation.
Hurston is also showcased as a performer, singing and
explaining folksongs she learned in Florida and the Bahamas.
A new essay by Stetson Kennedy, folklore editor for the Florida Writers’
Project, 1937-42, reflects on the labor and the legacy of the WPA in
Florida. An extensive bibliography, a list of related Web sites, a map
of the state, and a guide to the ethnic and language groups of Florida
add further context to the New Deal era and to Florida culture.
American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program of
the Library of Congress, which, in collaboration with other
institutions, is bringing important American historical materials to
citizens around the world. Through American Memory, some eighty
collectionsincluding six based on materials created by the
WPAof digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, motion
pictures, and text are now available online, free to the public for
educational purposes. This collection is the tenth collection from the
American Folklife Center to be added to the American Memory Web site.
All American Memory collections can be accessed through:
Please direct any questions to [log in to unmask]
Elizabeth L. Brown
Automated Reference Services Librarian
National Digital Library Program, LIBN/NDL/LC(1330)
Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-1330
[log in to unmask] telephone: 202/707-2235
Library of Congress American Memory Home Page: