In Her Own Words: Remarkable Women in 20th-Century Florida

Carita Doggett Corse, 1891-1978

"As long as I feel sure that what we're doing is worthwhile I am ready to work without stint."

— Carita Doggett Corse [1]

During the Great Depression, the Florida division of the Federal Writers Project (FWP) employed historians, librarians and writers to document the history and culture of the state as part of the Works Progress Administration relief program. Under the direction of historian Carita Doggett Corse, the FWP, which had its offices in Jacksonville, began collecting folklore and local histories that would eventually appear in a state guide for the American Guide Series. Florida’s contribution, titled Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, was published in 1939, and included general information about the state’s folklore, art, architecture, transportation and other topics. In her preface, Corse says that more than 400 experts contributed to the almost 600-page guide.

Corse also oversaw a program that collected information about the lives and experiences of Black Floridians. Zora Neale Hurston and Viola Muse were two of the fieldworkers who interviewed turpentine workers, authors, community members and formerly-enslaved individuals to document their experiences in their own words.

After the FWP ended in 1942, Corse continued publishing and speaking about Florida’s rich heritage. She also became the director of the Florida Federation of Planned Parenthood, which aimed to improve the lives of children by educating parents through family counseling and planning.

The History of Citrus in Florida

"The History of Citrus in Florida" by Carita Doggett Corse for the Federal Writers' Project, 1938.

Letter from Carita Doggett Corse to W.T. Cash, 1938

A letter from Carita Doggett Corse to State Librarian W. T. Cash regarding a special edition of the Apalachicola Times, the release date for Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State and positive comments made by Cash about the Federal Writers’ Project, August 30, 1938.

Letter from Carita Doggett Corse to W.T. Cash, 1939

A letter from Carita Doggett Corse to State Librarian W. T. Cash thanking him for his visit to the Federal Writers’ Project office and asking if Cash has read and reviewed Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, December 11, 1939.

More from Florida Memory
At the Archives
  • State Librarian William T. Cash Administrative Files, 1927-1954, Series S1505, Box 3, State Archives of Florida.
  • Stetson Kennedy Florida Folklife Collection, 1935-1991, Series S1585, State Archives of Florida.
  1. ^Letter from Carita Doggett Corse to Alan Lomax, October 19, 1939, Carita Doggett Corse Correspondence File, National Archives.