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Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs. Florida Folklife Archive
WPA Federal Writers Project Florida folklore files, 1935-1943.
1.50 cubic ft.
Terms Governing Use:
Legislation of 1979 (79-322, SB 1208) transferred to the Department of State the Florida Folk Arts component of the Stephen Foster Memorial and authorized appointment of a Folk Life Director to oversee the program. The Florida Folk Life Program was charged to "identify, research, and develop Florida folk artists, performers, folklore, traditions, customs, and cultural heritage and make folk art resources, festivals, and folk life projects available throughout the state." Known as the Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs from ca. 1985 until a 1995 reorganization, the bureau operated under the Division of Historical Resources, coordinating the annual Florida Folk Festival and directing such programs as Folk Arts Apprenticeships, Folk Arts in Education, Folk Heritage awards, and numerous research and collecting projects and programs. Part of the bureau was the Florida Folklife Archive, originally established in 1976 and maintained by the bureau as a depository for field notes and research findings of the folklife program and for the folklife collections of other researchers.
Since 1995, the Florida Folklife Program has operated within the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources in Tallahassee and continues most of the same programs as the Bureau.
The Federal Writers' Project, under the Works Progress Administration, was inaugurated September 28, 1935. One goal of the project was the publication of the "American Guide Series" of guidebooks on each state. FWP offices were established in the states with the requirement that 90% of the staff were to be from the ranks of the unemployed. From the beginning of the project, the collection of folk customs and lore was an integral aspect of the "American Guide Series." Fieldworkers traveled to communities to gather materials for the guide, researching in libraries, interviewing people, observing people, architecture, flora, fauna, etc., and taking notes. The first edition of the WPA Florida guide was published in 1939, and in 1943 when Congress closed the FWP, only a caretaker crew remained in the Florida office.
This collection consists of copies of research gathered in the 1930s and 1940s by the Federal Writers' Project of Florida. The materials are transcripts and edited copies of interviews and field notes and document a broad range of folklife subjects from Florida's Cracker, African American, Cuban, Seminole, Minorcan, and other ethnic cultures. Topics include beliefs and customs, folk tales and stories, dialects and jargon, agricultural lore, occupational lore, proverbs, songs, rhymes, cowboy and prison lore, and superstitions. Of special interest are the narratives of former slaves. For related materials, see series S1585, The Stetson Kennedy Florida Folklife Collection.
In addition to the folder listing in the online catalog, the Archives has a separate Reference Guide prepared by the Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs, consisting of an itemized list of the contents of each folder and several indexes, including by song title, informant, location, and subject.
Additional Physical Form:
Location of Originals/Duplicates:
Originals housed at the Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division.
These materials were compiled by the Florida office of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. They were deposited in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, and in 1982, the Florida Folklife Archive received this set of copies of thefiles.
Information contained in these records has been used in several publications:
The American Slave : A Composite Autobiography, Vol. 17, Florida Narratives / ed., with an introduction, by George P. Rawick. Westport, Connecticut : Greenwood Publishing Company, 1941.
Florida : A Guide to the Southernmost State / Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration. New York : Oxford University Press, 1939.
The Florida Negro : A Federal Writers' Project Legacy / edited by Gary W. McDonogh. Jackson, Miss. : University Press of Mississippi, 1993.
Palmetto Country / Stetson Kennedy. New York : Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1942.
Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields:
Ethnic folklore Florida Folklore Florida Folk songs Florida Slavery Florida African Americans Florida. African Americans Folklore. Florida Oral biography.
Oral histories. aat
Florida Description and travel Florida Social life and customs