Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942


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A Florida Treasure Hunt

The Two-Way Street

This has been just a sampling of the folk stuff we found on our Florida treasure hunt. Our recordings are accessible at this Web site and at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Some of the manuscripts, from the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, can be found online. The rest are housed in other archives across the country. See the Bibliography for other published sources of WPA Federal Writers' Project manuscripts.

Alan Lomax has always insisted that we not just take from the folk, but give back; that collections not be re-buried in archives, but used as seedbeds for the propagation of folk culture. I am delighted to know that the Library of Congress is putting so much of its folk material into that ultimate seedbed, a Web site!

In looking back, we WPA treasure hunters felt a bit conscience-stricken about hard-up informants who hoped to be paid a little something for singing their hearts out for posterity. Uncle Sam had not included so much as a dime for such purposes in the treasure hunt budget. But since we were just as hard-up as our informants, there was nothing we could do but say "Thank you." Perhaps posterity, as it visits their Web site, will add its thanks to ours.

Biddy, biddy bend
My story is end;
Turn loose the rooster
And hold the hen!