Abstract

This digital thesis project examines the folk song collecting expeditions of the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) in Florida between 1935 and 1942. The FWP carried out numerous folk music collecting expeditions in Florida through the Works Progress Administration. Folklorists such as Zora Neale Hurston, Alan Lomax, and Stetson Kennedy led the expeditions and traveled throughout Florida to record blues, "jook" songs, work songs, and traditional music from African American, Cuban, Czech, Greek, Minorcan, Seminole, and Slavic communities. While romantic notions of nationalism in the 1930s often promoted homogenization, the FWP emphasized inclusiveness and highlighted cultural diversity. The FWP's approach challenged popular concepts concerning the homogeneousness of American culture and identity. Their recordings indicate that Florida was a patchwork of varied cultures. Yet, Florida's diversity is not adequately highlighted in popular history. Historians often see Florida history through the eyes of the mythologized "Florida Cracker", the Celtic pioneer who settled in Florida in the eighteenth century, but the Cracker perspective represents but a square in the patchwork quilt that makes up Florida's cultural history. An exploration of the FWP folk song recordings brings Florida's diversity to the forefront and increases the public's understanding of the state's cultural variety. The project includes a podcast series that features stories about the FWP expeditions, the folklorists, the performers, and the music. It also includes an interactive exhibit that is currently a work in progress. Source materials derived from open-access public archives create an immersive, interactive learning experience.

Graduation Date

2018

Semester

Summer

Advisor

Cassanello, Robert

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

College

College of Arts and Humanities

Department

History

Degree Program

History; Public History

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0007230

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0007153

Language

English

Release Date

August 2018

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

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