Zora Neale Hurston, the WPA in Florida, and the Cross City Turpentine Camp

Zora Neale Hurston was already a published writer when she began working for the Florida division of the Work Projects Administration (WPA). Hurston never mentioned her work with the Federal Writer's Project in her autobiography, perhaps because of the stigma associated with the WPA's relief programs.

In August of 1939, Hurston went on a recording expedition to the turpentine camps in Cross City, Florida.

Photographs and a Brief History

Photographs

Photos – Zora Neale Hurston, the WPA in Florida, and the Turpentine Camps

This section includes a brief history of Zora Neale Hurston's work with the WPA in Florida. Also included are photographs of Zora Neale Hurston, her home town of Eatonville, and the turpentine workers and camps.


Photographs and a brief history »

Documents

Documents

Documents created by Zora Neale Hurston and Stetson Kennedy

Going down one road I smelt hot rosin and looked and saw a “gum patch.” That’s a turpentine still to the outsider, but gum path (sic) to those who work them.

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston began working for the Florida division of the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in Florida in the late 1930s. She signed on for the position of Junior Interviewer with the Federal Writers' Project (FWP). At the time, Hurston had already published Jonah's Gourd Vine and Mules and Men and was the only widely published author on the Florida payroll.

In August of 1939, Hurston went on a recording expedition to the turpentine camps in Cross City, Florida.

Documents relating to Hurston's work with the WPA include:

  • Zora Neale Hurston's essay "Turpentine."
  • Folklorist Stetson Kennedy's recollections of working with Hurston and of the trip to Cross City.
  • Sound recordings by Zora Neale Hurston.

Documents »