Zora Neale Hurston and the WPA in Florida
Documents and Audio
"Turpentine Camp — Cross City"
“Well, I put on my shoes and I started. Going up some roads and down some others to see what Negroes do for a living. Going down one road I smelt hot rosin and looked and saw a 'gum patch.' That’s a turpentine still to the outsider, but gum path (sic) to those who work them.”Zora Neale Hurston
Hurston wrote this essay during a trip to the Cross City turpentine camp for the WPA.
From 1937 to 1942, Stetson Kennedy headed the Florida Writers' Project unit on folklore, oral history, and social-ethnic studies. Kennedy and Zora Neale Hurston worked together to capture the traditions, songs, tales, and anecdotes of the people of Florida. Kennedy’s introduction to A Reference Guide to the Florida Folklore from the Federal WPA includes the story of the trip that he and Hurston took to the Cross City turpentine camp. His introduction mentions the essay she wrote and helps to fit the piece in a larger context.