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Collection ID is exactly "1" AND Tradition Bearer is exactly "Cannon, G. L."
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WPA Field Recordings by John and Ruby Lomax at the Florida State Prison, 1936-39

WPA Field Recordings by John and Ruby Lomax at the Florida State Prison, 1936-39

Date
1936
Description
One reel to reel. Not all the performers were identified. These recordings were created during two WPA expeditions, one by John Lomax in 1936 and a second expedition by John and Ruby Lomax in 1939. In the recordings from the 1936-1937 expedition led by John Lomax, he visited the Florida State Prison at Raiford in Union County. These were the second of several WPA recording expeditions in Florida. At the time Lomax was in charge of the folklife section of the Federal Writers Project. He left that position in 1938, and in 1939 returned to Florida (including to Raiford and Alachua County). The 1939 recordings are from the Southern States Recording Trip made by John and Ruby Lomax through the South. Touring eleven states, the husband and wife team gathered material for the Library of Congress's Archive of the American Folk Song (today the Archive of Folk Culture in the American Folklife Center). They were not working for the WPA at the time, as is sometimes thought; but they visited two of the same sites the recorded at during their 1936-1937 WPA trip to Florida. In these recordings the Lomaxes visited the Florida State Prison at Raiford in Union County (June 2-5); and Mrs. Griffin's home in Newberry (June 1). They recorded a total of 63 songs on acetate discs (the entire trip netted a full 267 discs, with over 600 titles). See the online exhibit about that 1939 expedition at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/lohtml/lohome.html (Also see reels T86-242/243/223) For more detailed information on the recordings, see S 1579, box 3, for copies of the original LOC indexes. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) – after 1939, the Works Projects Administration – 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 Florida’s FWP staff: Kennedy, Hurston, Robert Cook, Alton Morris, Corse, Robert Cornwell, John Filareton, and Herbert Halpert (of the Joint Committee on Folk Art’s Southern Recording Expedition.) Recording equipment was loaned to Florida’s WPA program by the Library of Congress’ 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.
Collection
Identifier Title Type Subject Thumbnail
a_s1576_t86-241aWPA Field Recordings by John and Ruby Lomax at the Florida State Prison, 1936-39SoundFieldwork
New Deal, 1933-1939
Public service employment
Folklorists
Public welfare
United States. Work Projects Administration
Gospel music
Old time music
A capella singers
Performing arts
A capella singing
Music performance
Singing
Blues singers
Gospel songs
Blues (Music)
Male prisoners
Women prisoners
Prisons
African Americans
Arts in prisons
Archives
Interviews
Singers
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