WPA Recordings


From 1935 to 1940, folklorists and interviewers employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) traveled around Florida collecting audio recordings of folk songs, children's stories, work songs and Florida's culture. Fieldworkers for the WPA in Florida included John Lomax, Ruby Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, Carita Doggett Corse, Stetson Kennedy and Herbert Halpert. The original recordings are housed at the Library of Congress. The copies held by the State Archives of Florida were duplicated in 1986 by Florida Folklife Program staff.

About the Works Progress Administration

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935 as a way to provide jobs for unemployed Americans during the Great Depression. The WPA focused especially on projects that could utilize 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; numerous public buildings; murals and artwork; and an extensive effort to collect and publish historical and cultural information about the state

The following represents a sample of WPA Recordings from the Folklife Collection.
Find more WPA Recordings.


1. Beat the Straws - Mac Criswell, Lee Pancratz, Dixon Hook, Broward Barrs and Frank Noegal, Thelma Boltin recordings (AFS13992-14020-LWO5712) (Download)

Reproductions of Florida-related recordings from the Library of Congress
(S 1576, reel T86-227)


2. Buffalo Song - Richard and Robert Osceola, Naha Tiger, John Josh, Barfield Johns and Billy Bowlegs (AFS3893B2) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Mayport and Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-253)


3. Catfish Song - John Josh and Richard Osceola (AFS3893A1) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Mayport and Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-253)


4. Cuba Land Is A Happy Land - John Henry Epps, Nathaniel Wellman, Jess Ellman, Charley Rutledge (AFS7092A5) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Sebring (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-255)


5. The Death Tango - Nick Mandalon (AFS3541B4) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Eatonville (1935 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-234)


6. Don't Talk About It - Roscoe McLean and a Group of Negro Convicts (AFS695B1) (Download)

WPA field recordings at the Florida State Prison in Union County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-240)


7. Drinking of the Wine - John Henry Epps, Nathaniel Wellman, Jess Ellman, Charley Rutledge (AFS7092B1) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Sebring (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-255)


8. Dry Bones - Henrietta Marshall and Mixed Group (AFS351A) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Eatonville (1935 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-234)


9. The Florida Boys - John K. Feaster (AFS959B2) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Alachua County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-219)


10. Fromajardis - Stela Burke (AFS3545A2) (Download)

WPA field recordings at Jacksonville, Tarpon Springs, St. Augustine, and Slavia (1939-1940 recording expedition: Alton Morris)
(S 1576, reel T86-225)


11. High Puppies - G.G. Albritton, Cleo Wynn O'Berry and Johnny Bill Shoemaker (AFS3901B2) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Sebring (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-255)


12. Hot Boiling Sun - Emanuel Duke (AFS686A1) (Download)

WPA field recordings at the Florida State Prison in Union County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-238)


13. Hug 'em in Sebring - Cleo Wynn O'Berry and Johnny Bill Shoemaker (AFS3902A1) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Sebring (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S1576, reel T86-255)


14. Hurricane - James Brown, Jr. with Banjo by Walter Van Bass and Guitar by Ned Hugh Bass (AFS3898A) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Kenansville and Glades County (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-254)


15. It Ain't Going to Rain No More - Sung by Group of Little Black Girls (AFS349B1) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Eatonville (1935 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-234)


16. Jesus is Making Up My Dying Bed - Rev. J.B. Bryant and Group (AFS687B1) (Download)

WPA field recordings at the Florida State Prison in Union County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-238)


17. John Henry - Bill McLaughlin, Introduction by Alton C. Morris (AFS9915B1) (Download)

Reproductions of Florida-related recordings from the Library of Congress
(S 1576, reel T86-227)


18. Leather Breeches - Russell Wise on Fiddle (AFS3312A1) (Download)

WPA field recordings at Cherry Lake (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-223)


19. Little Liza Jane - Sung by Group of Little Black Girls (AFS349B2) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Eatonville (1935 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-234)


20. Maroulli - Chas. M. Brown, Louis Peronis on Fiddle, Harris Perris on Cymbal, George Kafezio on Mandola (AFS3540B1) (Download)

WPA field recordings at Tarpon Springs and Slavia (1939-1940 recording expedition: Alton Morris)
(S 1576, reel T86-224)


21. The More You Scratch - Theodore (Tea Roll) Rolle with Trombone and Guitar (AFS3384B1) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Riviera and Key West (January 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-246)


22. Muley on the Mountain - Sung by a Local Singer, Booker T. Sapps, and Roger Matthews (AFS372B2) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Belle Glade (1935 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-236)


23. The Night Owlers - Mary Graneskis, M. Nicholas and Nick Theos (AFS3542A2) T86-224 (Download)

WPA field recordings at Tarpon Springs and Slavia (1939-1940 recording expedition: Alton Morris)
(S 1576, reel T86-224)


24. Pay Me My Money Down - John Henry Epps, Nathaniel Wellman, Jess Ellman, Charley Rutledge (AFS7092A2) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Sebring (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-255)


25. Po Laz'us - Roscoe McLean and a Group of Negro Convicts (AFS695A1) (Download)

WPA field recordings at the Florida State Prison in Union County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-240)


26. Soultana - Evee Anastassiou (AFS3883A1) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Masaryktown (1939-1940 recording expedition: Alton Morris)
(S 1576, reel T86-252)


27. Sponger Money - Theodore Rolle (AFS3388B1) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Key West (January 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-247)


28. Standing on That Rock - Black Women Prisoners (AFS699A1) (Download)

WPA field recordings at the Florida State Prison in Union County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-240)


29. Stewball - Roscoe McLean and a Group of Negro Convicts (AFS695A2) (Download)

WPA field recordings at the Florida State Prison in Union County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-240)


30. Syrtos Politicos (Constantinopoliticos) - George Kaletizis, Louis Peronis and Charylaos Perris, Cymbal (AFS3885B1) (Download)

WPA field recordings of a dedication ceremony in Tarpon Springs (March-July 1940 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-252)


31. Tell Me What Kind of Man Jesus Is - Elder Sykes Jones and Mixed Group (AFS350A) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Eatonville (1935 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-234)


32. Track Lining Song - Extra Gang Number Four, Southern Railway, Thelma Boltin Recordings (AFS13992-14020-LWO5712) (Download)

Reproductions of Florida-related recordings from the Library of Congress
(S 1576, reel T86-227)


33. Traveling Shoes - Amelia Pursley and Group of Black Women Prisoners (AFS701A2) (Download)

WPA field recordings at the Florida State Prison in Union County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-240)


34. Well, It Ain't No Way to Hide - Roscoe McLean - AFS682B (Download)

WPA field recordings at the Florida State Prison in Union County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-238)


35. The West Palm Beach Storm - Viola Jenkins (AFS977A) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Alachua County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-220)


36. Yati, Yati - Chas. M. Brown, Louis Peronis on Fiddle, Harris Perris on Cymbal, George Kafezio on Mandola (AFS3540A1) (Download)

WPA field recordings at Tarpon Springs and Slavia (1939-1940 recording expedition: Alton Morris)
(S 1576, reel T86-224)


37. Yonder Sits a Humble Creature - Mrs. Matilda Keene (AFS979B2) (Download)

WPA field recordings in Alachua County (1936-1937 recording expedition)
(S 1576, reel T86-220)

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