Research Starter: Zora Neale Hurston in Florida
Research Starter

Zora Neale Hurston is most famous for her novels. However, during the Great Depression, Hurston worked as a folklorist in Florida. Through her work with the Federal Writers’ Project, Hurston captured stories, songs, traditions and histories from African-Americans in small communities across Florida.

In 1939, Hurston went to Cross City in Dixie County, Florida. Hurston’s essay, “Turpentine,” traced her travels through the pine forests with an African-American woods rider named John McFarlin. Her work on Florida’s turpentine camps is still considered authoritative.

Essay by Zora Neale Hurston on the turpentine camp in Cross City, 1939

Essay by Zora Neale Hurston on the turpentine camp in Cross City, 1939

Florida Memory

State Library of Florida

Other Online Resources

Published Sources

  • Anna Lillios, Crossing the Creek: The Literary Friendship of Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010).
  • Tiffany Ruby Patterson, Zora Neale Hurston and a History of Southern Life (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005).
  • Virginia Lynn Moylan, Zora Neale Hurston's Final Decade (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011).