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Record Group Number: 000158
Series/Collection Number: .S 1584
Creator: Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs. Florida Folklife Archive
Title, Dates: Stetson Kennedy donation records, 1936-1989.
Amount: 0.33 cubic ft.
Medium Included:
Organization/Arrangement: Arranged by subject.
Terms Governing Use:
Biographical/Historical:     Legislation in 1979 (79-322, SB 1208) transferred the Florida Folk Arts component of the Stephen Foster Memorial to the Florida Department of State. Operating as the Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs from ca. 1985 until 1995, the Bureau coordinated the annual Florida Folk Festival and directed such programs as Folk Arts Apprenticeships, Folk Arts in Education, Folk Heritage awards, annual research surveys, and numerous other projects and programs. From 1995 through June 30, 2021, the renamed and reorganized Florida Folklife Program continued the majority of these operations from within the Division of Historical Resources, Bureau of Historic Preservation in Tallahassee. During the 1995 reorganization, the State Archives of Florida acquired the Florida Folklife Collection from the Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs’ previously maintained Florida Folklife Archives. Legislation in 2021 (2021-71, L. O. F., HB 909) transferred the Florida Folklife Program and its operations from the Division of Historical Resources to the newly renamed Division of Arts and Culture, previously the Division of Cultural Resources, effective July 1, 2021. The program is charged to "identify, research, interpret, and present Florida folk arts, artists, performers, folklore, traditions, customs, and cultural heritage and make folk cultural resources and folklife projects available throughout the state."

    Born in Jacksonville on October 5, 1916, Stetson Kennedy (1916-2011) was a renowned folklorist, writer and activist. He served as the head of the Florida Writers' Project unit on folklore, oral history, and social-ethnic studies for the Works Progress Administration from 1937 through 1942. He carried a sound recorder with him around the state to capture the songs, tales, and anecdotes of Floridians. In 1950, he ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate for the United States Senate from Florida on the platform of "Total Equality". Kennedy was a founding member of the Florida Folklore Society in 1982 and served as the society's president in 1989.

    He published numerous books on Florida, Southern culture and his activism work, including "Palmetto Country" and "Southern Exposure". "The Florida Slave" was the last written work completed by Kennedy before his death, and the work was published post-humorously in late 2011. He received many awards during his lifetime, including the Negro Freedom Rally People's Award in 1947, the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1988 and the Cavallo Foundation Award for civic courage in 1991.

    In 1948, Kennedy purchased and preserved land in St. Johns County, named Beluthahatchee, where he built his home and lived until his death. Stetson Kennedy passed away on August 27, 2011, and his ashes were scattered on Lake Beluthahatchee. After his death, Beluthahatchee was converted into a St. Johns County park, where Kennedy's home is preserved as a museum and memorial of the celebrated man.

Summary:     This series consists primarily of catalog card copies, but also contains other lists, records, correspondence, clippings, periodicals, and instructional material that pertain to Stetson Kennedy's donation of his folklore collection to the Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs in 1988 (now at the Florida State Archives--Series S1585, Stetson Kennedy Florida Folklife Collection). That collection includes some of the Florida folklore materials in his possession as collected by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Florida Writers' Project with the help of Robert Cook, Alton C. Morris, and John Avery Lomax during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as such materials from other sources. Included in this series are photos of Stetson Kennedy and others at recording sessions and at other locations; copies of the accession records for Kennedy's donation; a typescript of a travelog by Charles Joseph Lathrobe that describes Tallahassee in the 1830s; and copies of the periodicals US Week and Direction from 1938 through 1941.

Finding Aids: Folder listing available.
Additional Physical Form:
Reproduction Note:
Location of Originals/Duplicates:
Associated Materials: For additional materials related to Stetson kennedy, see series S 1585, Stetson Kennedy Florida folklife collection and M87- 48, Stetson Kennedy's North Florida photographs. Additional Stetson Kennedy collections are located at the University of Florida, George Smathers Libraries, Special Collections; Georgia State University, Southern Labor Archives; New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, Southern Historical Collection.
Language Notes:
Ownership/Custodial History:
Publication Note:
General Note:
Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields: Cook, Robert
Lathrobe, Charles Joseph.
Folk music Florida
Folklore Florida
Folklore Performance Florida
Folk songs Florida
Folklore and education Florida
Folk singers Florida
Oral tradition
Ethnic folklore Florida
Folklorists Florida
Photographs. aat
Periodicals. aat
Florida Description and travel
Florida Social life and customs
Florida Songs and music
Added Entries Morris, Alton Chester, 1903-
Lomax, John Avery, 1867-1948
Kennedy, Stetson
Florida. Dept. of State.  --Division of Historical Resources.
United States. Work Projects Administration.
United States. Works Progress Administration.
Federal Writers' Project (Fla.)
Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs
US Week