Recording of the In the Nick of Time Conference on Florida Folklife and the WPA

Date: February 4, 1989

Source: S1576 , Container 25 , C89-1, C89-2, C89-3, C89-4, C89-5, C89-6, C89-7, C89-8, C89-9, C89-10, C89-11

Type: Sound

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  • "Eleven audio cassettes. Recording of a conference regarding the value of the WPA (and the Florida Writer's Project) to Florida Folklife. The fieldwork conducted by the WPA from 1935 through 1943 can be found at the Library of Congress, as well as duplicates in S 1576. (Use this database to locate them.) C89-1: Stetson Kennedy discusses the WPA in Florida; "apartheid" [segregation] in Florida; Florida at the time of the Depression; his introduction to folklore; various stories on various places in Florida; race and gender in the WPA in Florida. (Dale Olson features as emcee throughout series) C89-2: Stetson Kennedy continues his talk with a discussion of methodology, Zora Neale Hurston, and how the NEH and NEA have a different formula than the WPA. Alan Jabbour plays music and discusses his background as a native Floridian from Miami. Sources for Florida folk materials are discussed and music is played ("The Sloop John B" is specifically named). C89-3: Alan Jabbour continues discussing songs of various ethnic origins, such as Slovakian, Minorcan, and Greek. Ann Banks discusses her background as a Florida native and tells stories. She also discusses re-issued stories from the FWP, such as Benjamin Botkin and his emphasis on literary realism; WPA writers as pioneers. C89-4: Anne Banks continues with stories. Alan Lomax discusses the background of what had been said previously; the "century of the common man"; various people involved with the WPA including FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt; archives and records; Woody Guthrie and his song, "Going Where the Climate Suits My Clothes"; WPA writers and John Lomax's involvement in beginning of the Slave Narrative Collection; difficulties and risks in gathering folklore; importance of folklore to the public sector. C89-5: Alan Lomax continues discussing fieldwork with African Americans; Zora Neale Hurston (he also performs one of the songs she collected); Stetson Kennedy and his work with the program; the dangers of fieldwork; importance of oldest documents; living in the black community; African instruments; songs he collected (particularly blues). C89-6: Gary Mormino speaks on aspects of the WPA relating to African Americans. He specifically discusses Stetson Kennedy; the Ex-Slave Club of Miami; WPA bill of 1935; Florida's part in the project; African American writing unit; Sterling Brown; slave narratives collected between 1936 and 1938 and Florida's slave narratives; non-published interviews; poor whites; faith in the African American church; social fabric of plantation-community life; learning to read; retaining African customs; African American community life in interviews; differences between Georgia and Alabama as seen in narratives and American history. C89-7: Ron Foreman continues with the discussion on African Americans and the WPA, focusing on the role of the African American writers unit in Florida; emerging Florida materials; Clara White Mission; the three field workers studying African Americans in Florida in 1937; Zora Neale Hurston's importance to the project. Barbara Speisman continues the discussion with references to her own background and stories about Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. C89-8: Barbara Speisman continues with a comparison of Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. David Kaufelt discusses the WPA Guide as a resource for writers and its different contents. He focuses on the Florida historical novel; the tour section; African Americans in the Guide; "The Golden Wedding"; winter season; sports and recreation; the Guide as providing a skeleton of Florida history; failings of the Guide including economic and racist fears; anti-Semitism and the lack of reference to Jews in the Guide; the mechanics of putting together the Guide; the Guide as a "very good resource for Florida." C89-9: Peggy Bulger discusses the establishment of the FWP; the search for useable past and bicentennial celebration; American Folklife Preservation Act; establishment of the Florida Folklife Programs and the FWP. Ann Banks discusses ethnic hatred and strength; history of and comparison between the Florida Folklife Program and the FWP; field materials of the Florida Folklife Program; state pride through folklife material; works of the Florida Folklife Program; new ideas of the FWP; New Deal's policy; similarities of work today; cultural conservation and folklife work; products that meet needs of folk culture and government sponsored agency; FWP materials; comparison of FWP and Florida Folklife Program benefits; problems of the New Deal folklorists and those of today. C89-10: Ormond Loomis reads excerpts from the collection entitled "Cracker"; responds to the condition of materials; collection of the WPA at the Florida Folklife Program. A question and answer session brings comments on various subjects from Alan Lomax, Ann Banks, Peggy Bulger, Cheryl Cannon, and Ormond Loomis. Topics include exploitation by the middle class and the spirit of natural folklore; feeding back into the communities; trends; the NEA; the State of Florida and folklore; the good of White Springs. C89-11: Question and answer session continues with comments from Stetson Kennedy, Alan Lomax, Peggy Bulger, Catherine Sugrue, Dale Olson, Alan Jabbour and Ron Foreman. Topics include materials in curriculum; money as a concern for folklorists; the Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs; preservation; schools."

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