WPA Recordings

About this Audio

From 1935 to 1940, folklorists and interviewers employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA; renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) traveled around Florida creating and collecting audio recordings of folk songs, children's stories, work songs and interviews with Florida citizens about the state's culture. Fieldworkers for the WPA in Florida included John Lomax, Ruby Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, Carita Doggett Corse, Stetson Kennedy and Herbert Halpert.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the WPA in 1935 to provide jobs for unemployed Americans during the Great Depression. The WPA focused on projects that utilized the talents of skilled, white-collar workers such as writers, editors, journalists, artists, musicians and architects. WPA projects in Florida included a survey of historical records in state, county and church archives; a survey of the state's merchant marine and maritime history; construction of numerous public buildings; creation of murals and artwork; and an extensive effort to collect and publish historical and cultural information about the state.

These audio recordings are copies reproduced in 1986 by Florida Folklife Program staff from original fieldwork recordings held by the Library of Congress.