Happy Birthday Zora Neale Hurston!

Acclaimed author, folklorist, and path-breaking anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston was born yesterday in about 1891.

Zora Neale Hurston, ca. 1930

Zora Neale Hurston, ca. 1930

Although most associated with the Harlem Renaissance and her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida and worked for the Federal Writers Project (FWP) in Florida, alongside Stetson Kennedy, in the 1930s and 1940s.

Hurston was among the first trained anthropologists to study African American culture in the American South. She incorporated her fieldwork into fiction and non-fiction writings. Hurston died in Fort Pierce, Florida in 1960.

Zora Neale Hurston, with Rochelle French and Gabriel Brown, Eatonville, 1935

Zora Neale Hurston, with Rochelle French and Gabriel Brown, Eatonville, 1935

Some of Hurston’s most important yet underappreciated contributions to American anthropology consist of work songs she gathered in Florida while working for the FWP. Listen to one of our favorites, collected by Hurston at a railroad construction camp near Lakeland in 1933.

Shove It Over, as performed by Zora Neal Hurston

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Learn more: Zora Neale Hurston, the WPA in Florida, and the Cross City Turpentine Camp (online learning unit)

New Year’s Cruise on the Caloosahatchee

In late December 1947, Joe Steinmetz, along with family and friends, embarked from Fort Myers on a New Year’s cruise aboard the shantyboat Lazy Bones. The group motored up the Caloosahatchee River and into Lake Okeechobee, bound for Clewiston.

Lazy Bones docked near La Belle

Lazy Bones docked near La Belle

Lois Steinmetz (later Duncan) entertaining passengers

Lois Steinmetz (later Duncan) entertaining passengers

Joe, a world-renowned professional photographer, captured candid scenes from the splendid excursion. In the spirit of the intrepid travelers aboard Lazy Bones, get outside, take in the outdoors, and enjoy all the benefits of New Year’s in Florida.

Sunbathers on deck reading about winter storms “Up North”

Sunbathers on deck reading about winter storms “Up North”

Joe performing magic tricks

Joe performing magic tricks

The culmination of a successful trip

The culmination of a successful trip

The Joseph Janney Steinmetz Collection is just one of the remarkable photographic collections held by the State Archives of Florida.

The Everglades Traveler

Renowned botanist and author John K. Small (1869-1938) conducted seasonal fieldwork in the Florida Everglades for more than 30 years. Along the way he captured scenes of Seminole life in South Florida during the early 20th century – a period of great transition for modern Florida Indians.

Unidentified family in front of a chickee, January 25, 1927

Unidentified family in front of their chickee, January 25, 1927

 

Josie Billie and family near Deep Lake in the Big Cypress Swamp, April 1921

Josie Billie and family near Deep Lake in the Big Cypress Swamp, April 1921

In the early 1900s, Seminole families transitioned from a primarily trading-based economy to one that demanded greater engagement with wage labor. They also experienced firsthand the ecological changes, caused by drainage schemes, documented by pioneering naturalists such as J.K. Small.

Children of Doctor Tommy Jimmy near Kendall, November 1916

Children of Doctor Tommy Jimmy near Kendall, November 1916

 

Unidentified young women near the Tantie trading post , ca. 1913

Unidentified young women near the Tantie trading post , ca. 1913

Small’s best known work, From Eden to Sahara: Florida’s Tragedy (1929), cemented his legacy along with other prominent naturalist-authors who also drew their inspiration from the Florida landscape. J.K. Small’s contributions to the natural history of Florida stand firmly beside the likes of William Bartram, Bernard Romans, Archie Carr, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Pumpkins grown by Wildcat, September 1929

Pumpkins grown by Wildcat, September 1929

 

Fanny Stuart and Susie Tiger near their camp in the Indian Prairie, west of Lake Okeechobee, May 1919

Fanny Stuart and Susie Tiger near their camp in the Indian Prairie, west of Lake Okeechobee, May 1919

The John K. Small Collection (M83-2), held by the State Archives of Florida, consists of correspondence and over 3,000 photographs reflecting his career as a botanist and his frequent contact with many leading scientists, explorers, and naturalists of his time including Oakes Ames, Roland M. Harper, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Lord Nathaniel Britton, David G. Fairchild, William Chambers Coker, Harold St. John, and Thomas A. Edison.

Approximately 2,100 of Small’s photographs are available on the Florida Memory website.

Annual Hale Smith Community Pig Out (December 7, 2013)

Looking to pig out this weekend? Do you enjoy your roast pork served with a side of history?

If so, join the Panhandle Archeological Society at Tallahassee (PAST), the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, and the Florida State University Archaeological Society on Saturday, December 7, from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM at the Governor Martin House (1001 de Soto Park Drive) in Tallahassee for the 36th Annual Hale Smith Community Pig Out. The event, appropriately held near the Hernando de Soto Winter Encampment Site, will feature food, kid’s activities, and knowledgeable archeologists on hand to serve up roast pork and dish out history related to the site.

Annual Hale Smith Community Pig Roast, sponsored by PAST, Governor Martin House, December 7, 2013, 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM

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Archaeological evidence found near the Governor Martin House suggests that an expedition under the command of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto spent the winter of 1539-40 just east of downtown Tallahassee, in the vicinity of modern-day Myers Park. De Soto and his entourage occupied an Apalachee village known as Anhaica, before Native American warriors drove them from Florida.

According to historical documents, de Soto brought, among other things, a number of pigs on the expedition as a source of food. These pigs, and others introduced to Florida in the 16th century, form the genetic basis of feral populations that inhabit the southeastern U.S. today.

Read up on the history and significance of the de Soto site before you feast: Charles R. Ewen and John H. Hann, Hernando de Soto among the Apalachee: The Archaeology of the First Winter Encampment (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1998).

Early Views of Key West

It’s that time of year again…

As cool winter breezes penetrate deeper into the Florida peninsula with each passing cold front, mainlanders begin to yearn for something a little more tropical.

For a lucky few, Key West has become part of the winter routine. Those with the wherewithal to venture down to the southernmost city during the colder months may be unaware of the island’s early history, when Key West was plagued by everything from malaria to water shortages and fire to hurricanes.

The images below are some of the earliest renderings of the island known to the Americans as Key West, long before it became a tourist mecca in the days of Flagler and Hemingway.

Sketch of Key West by William A. Whitehead, ca. 1838, reproduced in Jefferson Browne, Key West: The Old and the New (St. Augustine: The Record Company, 1912)

Sketch of Key West by William A. Whitehead, ca. 1838, reproduced in Jefferson Browne, Key West: The Old and the New (St. Augustine: The Record Company, 1912)

These two sketches (above and below), drawn by William A. Whitehead, portray Key West as it appeared from the cupola atop A. C. Tift’s warehouse in the late 1830s. William and his brother John were prominent citizens in the small island community. William served as customs collector from 1830 to 1838. He left Key West in 1838, never to return, because the town council refused to institute an occupational tax he supported.

Sketch of Key West by William A. Whitehead, ca. 1838, reproduced in Jefferson Browne, Key West: The Old and the New (St. Augustine: The Record Company, 1912)

Sketch of Key West by William A. Whitehead, ca. 1838, reproduced in Jefferson Browne, Key West: The Old and the New (St. Augustine: The Record Company, 1912)

The image below is believed to be one of the oldest landscape daguerreotypes of Florida. It dates to about 1850 and was likely taken from an observation tower in the vicinity of Front and Simonton Streets. Visible near the horizon are First Baptist (left) and St. Paul’s Episcopal (middle) churches.

The steeple of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church helps date this item to circa 1850. St. Paul’s, built in 1839, was destroyed by a hurricane in 1846. It was rebuilt in 1848, but burned along with much of the city in the fire of 1886. In 1909 and 1910, the church again suffered damage from powerful tropical weather. The present Gothic Revival-style structure, constructed of steel and concrete, held its first services in 1914. According to an early historian of Key West, First Baptist Church on Eaton Street (upper left) was built in 1848.

Bird's eye view of Key West, ca. 1850

Bird’s eye view of Key West, ca. 1850

The map below, created by the Monroe County Commissioners in 1874 from city property records, shows Key West as it appeared in the late 19th century. During the 1860s and 1870s, Key West hosted a large contingent of Cubans fleeing from the Ten Years War (1868-1878) in their homeland. This conflict served as a precursor to the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898), during which Key West again played a vital role for the exile community.

Cuban businessmen in exile, including Vicente Martínez Ybor, transplanted their cigar rolling operations to Key West during the Ten Years War. Ybor later moved his factories to Tampa and started the community that now bears his name.

"Map of the City of Key West, Monroe County Florida..." Compiled and Drawn by Order of the Hon. Board of County Commissioners (July 1874)

“Map of the City of Key West, Monroe County Florida…” Compiled and Drawn by Order of the Hon. Board of County Commissioners (July 1874)

Polly Parker, Survivor

Polly Parker escaped deportation during the Third Seminole War and laid the foundation for the modern Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Painting of Polly Parker by Robert Butler, Brighton Reservation, 1989

Painting of Polly Parker by Robert Butler, Brighton Reservation, 1989

Polly Parker (Emateloye) was captured by the U.S. Army during the Third Seminole War (1855-1858). She was forced aboard the steamship Grey Cloud, bound for New Orleans and thence up the Mississippi River to the Indian Territory — the watery route that served as the Seminoles’ Trail of Tears. Parker escaped when the vessel stopped at St. Marks, south of Tallahassee. She then began a 400-mile journey southward to rejoin her people near Lake Okeechobee. Parker survived the perilous trek and her family lives on today in many prominent figures in the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

On December 1, a delegation from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, including some of Parker’s descendents, embarked by boat from Egmont Key in Tampa Bay and re-created the voyage to St. Marks. Special events took place on December 2 in St. Marks and in Tallahassee on December 3 to commemorate this important history and encourage greater recognition for the remarkable Polly Parker.

JFK Assassination (November 22, 1963)

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. George Smathers, United States Senator from Florida, commented on the loss of his friend and colleague during his regularly filmed remarks to the people of Florida:

Kennedy and his family spent considerable time in Florida during his presidency, including a visit just days before that fateful day in Dallas. The photographs below captured moments from JFK’s trips to the Sunshine State.

With George Smathers and LeRoy Collins, 1961

With George Smathers and LeRoy Collins, 1961

 

With British Prime Minister Harold McMillan, Key West Naval Air Station, March 26, 1961

With British Prime Minister Harold McMillan, Key West Naval Air Station, March 26, 1961

 

With Farris Bryant at the Orange Bowl, Miami, January 1, 1963

With Farris Bryant at the Orange Bowl, Miami, January 1, 1963

 

Shaking hands in Miami, November 18, 1963

Shaking hands in Miami, November 18, 1963

 

With George Smathers in Miami, November 18, 1963

With George Smathers in Miami, November 18, 1963

Folklife Collection Spotlighted in National Study

The State Archives’ Florida Folklife Collection is among the projects featured in a new sustainability study focusing on digitization. The study, conducted by Nancy Moran of Ithaka S+R, in partnership with the Association of Research Libraries, details the history of the Folklife Collection and the ongoing efforts by the State Archives to make materials from the collection accessible via the Florida Memory website.

Glen Simmons (foreground) and his apprentice Donald Edwards poling skiffs through the Everglades near Florida City, ca. 1990

Glen Simmons (foreground) and his apprentice Donald Edwards poling skiffs through the Everglades near Florida City, ca. 1990

The Florida Folklife Collection is one of the largest and most diverse collections held by the State Archives of Florida. Approximately 5,000 sound recordings and 46,000 photographs from the collection have been cataloged. Of these, over 2,000 sound recordings and nearly 14,000 photographs are available on the Florida Memory website. The Folklife Collection provides a remarkable window into the traditional cultures of Florida’s native and immigrant populations. Materials in the collection, gathered by folklorists working for the Florida Bureau of Folklife Programs, speak to, among other things, religion, food, music, art, immigration, story telling, and labor in Florida history.

Boat Captain Skipper Lockett Welcomes You to Rainbow Springs

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Download “Searching for Sustainability: Strategies from Eight Digitized Special Collections,” which places the Folklife Collection in the context of other national projects, and the case study, which focuses solely on the history and ongoing efforts to sustain digitization of the Florida Folklife Collection.