|a_s1576_t86-248||WPA field recordings in Key West and Jacksonville (January 1940 recording expedition)||Sound||Fieldwork|
New Deal, 1933-1939
Public service employment
United States. Work Projects Administration
Personal experience narratives
WPA field recordings in Key West and Jacksonville (January 1940 recording expedition)
- One reel to reel. These recordings were created by Florida folklorist Kennedy and photographer Cook in January 1940. They created a total of eighteen 12-inch acetate records that month. On this recording Rolle plays with his band on several Bahamian folk songs in Key West; White telling stories and songs; and the 85 year old Barnwell, who grew up on a plantation in Nassau County. She tells stories of her 'mammies,' and sings songs from her childhood. For more detailed information on the recordings, see S 1579, box 3, for copies of the original LOC indexes. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) â€“ after 1939, the Works Projects Administration â€“ was a work-relief program created in 1935 by the Roosevelt Administration that employed over 8.5 million people between 1935 and 1943. One of its programs was the Federal Writers Project (FWP), which included the Folklore Section. This section conducted fieldwork, recording songs, traditions, and stories across the nation. Originally created to gather material for the American Guide Series, but later emphasis was placed upon fieldwork for preservation of folk traditions for future use. In Florida, the FWP was based out of Jacksonville, and directed by historian Carita Doggett Corse. Folklorist Stetson Kennedy directed the Florida Folklife section. Seven recording expeditions were conducted in Florida. Two were conducted between 1935 and 1937, before the creation of the Florida Folklore Section: one by Alan Lomax and Zora Neale Hurston, and the other by John and Ruby Lomax. After 1939, five more were conducted by Floridaâ€™s FWP staff: Kennedy, Hurston, Robert Cook, Alton Morris, Corse, Robert Cornwell, John Filareton, and Herbert Halpert (of the Joint Committee on Folk Artâ€™s Southern Recording Expedition.) Recording equipment was loaned to Floridaâ€™s WPA program by the Library of Congressâ€™ Archive of the American Folk Song (later the American Folk Center). The field recordings were made on acetate disks, usually recorded at 78 rpm (although occasionally at 33 rpm). Because these disks were shipped from Washington DC to Florida, then to the recording site, and then back to Washington, these disks often were not of the highest sonic quality. Several had surface scratches and many had various recording speeds. In 1986, the FFP staff made copies of many of these recordings onto reel to reels for inclusion to the Florida Folklife Archive. The originals are still housed with the Library of Congress.