WPA field recordings in Alachua County (1936-1937 recording expedition)

Date: 1937

Source: S1576 , T86-221

Type: Sound

Download: MP3

Event Name

Collector or Fieldworker

Tradition Bearer

Genre or Occupation

Title of Work

  • Rich Merchant (Griffin) (Newberry)
  • Jacks Wife (Keene) (Newberry)
  • Jacks Wife (Smith) (Newberry)
  • House Carpenter (Griffin) (Newberry)
  • Bill (Keene) (Newberry)
  • SIlas Carters Sermon (Keene) (Newberry)
  • Who Kiled Cock Robin (Hornbeak) (Moss Bluff)
  • Wicked Folly (Hornbeak) (Moss Bluff)
  • Pretty Fair Miss in the Garden (Davis) (Moss Bluff)
  • Vacant Lot (Hornbeak) (Moss Bluff)
  • Poor Old Maids (Hornbeak) (Moss Bluff)
  • Railroad Boy (Hornbeak) (Moss Bluff)
  • Charlie Brooks (Sasser) (High Springs)
  • Froggy Went a Courting (Sasser (High Springs)
  • MIlk Merchants Daughter (Riley) (High Springs)
  • Two Sisters (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • Great Speckled Bird (Mauldin) (High Springs)
  • I am an Old Livelong Maid (Mauldin) (High Springs)
  • Lord Thomas (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • Time Enough Yet (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • I WOnder When I Shall Be Married (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • Old Joe Clark (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • Yes or No (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • Fair and Tender Ladies (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • House Carpenter (McClellan) (High Springs)
  • Cuckoo is a Pretty Bird (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • Swapping Song (MacClellan) (High Springs)
  • Billy Boy (MacClellan) (High Springs)

Place Name

Corporate or Conference Name


  • One reel to reel. These recordings were created during the 1936-1937 expedition by John Lomax. In these recordings he visited Alachua County with Alton Morris of the University of Florida. 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 Raiford and Alachua County). See the online exhibit about that 1939 expedition at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/lohtml/lohome.html 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.

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