Florida Folklife Collection


Funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Florida State Archives has completed a two-year project to enhance access to and provide educational tools based upon the Florida Folklife Collection (Record Group 158), a rich collection of field notes, images, and sound recordings created by the Florida Folklife Program and the Florida Folk Festival that document the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity reflected in the communities of our state.

Materials from the Folklife Collection have been added to the Florida Memory web site (FloridaMemory.com). Through the use of primary historical records, the web-based Florida Memory Project illustrates significant moments in Florida history, provides educational resources for students of all ages, and makes available archival collections useful for historical research.

The Florida Folklife Collection includes approximately 150 cubic feet of paper records (including field notes and administrative files) and thousands of audio and video recordings, which date from the 1930s through 2006. Created by Florida folklorists, the Collection consists of 88 individual series that document the performances by, interviews with, and fieldwork surveys of folk musicians, artisans, storytellers, folklife interpreters, and other Florida peoples and their traditions. Topics include children's lore, foodways, religious traditions, Native American culture, numerous musical traditions, art, maritime traditions, ethnic folk culture, material culture, and occupational lore. These records document the living traditions of Florida's peoples.

In addition to the research files of the Florida Folklife Program, the Collection also includes the recordings and images of the annual Florida Folk Festival, the nation's longest-running continuous folk festival. Through more than two thousand reel to reels, audio cassettes, and digital audio tapes, as well as thousand of photographic prints and slides, the Collection documents not only the state's oral and musical traditions, but also the development of national musical trends and genres. Performers range from Florida folk artists, including Gamble Rogers, Lilianne Louis, Will McLean, Ida Goodson, and Frog Smith, to national artists such as Vasser Clements, Doc Watson, the Beers Family, and James Kelly.

Using the Florida Folklife Collection as source material, the Archives has completed the following components of the project.

About the Florida Folklife Collection
Florida Folklife Collection Plan Current Status
Create an online index providing item-level descriptions of approximately 50,000 photographic images and approximately 5,000 audio recordings. Done
Create catalog records and digital images of 10,000 of the most significant and representative indexed photographic images. Done
Over 10,000 images have been scanned, cataloged and placed on the Florida Folklife Collection page of the Florida Photographic Collection web site.
Create four educational units using digitized materials from the Folklife Collection. Done
  • Lucreaty Clark, White Oak Basket Maker
  • Zora Neale Hurston, the WPA in Florida, and the Cross City Turpentine Camp
  • Netmaking and Net Fishing in Florida
  • Seminole Doll Making
  • Sacred Harp