Florida Folklorists of Past and Present

DeVane recording blues musician Emmett Murray: Belle Glade, Fla. (1980)

DeVane recording blues musician Emmett Murray: Belle Glade, Fla. (1980)

Dwight DeVane

Folklorist Dwight DeVane worked for the FFP during its early years. DeVane initially worked as a resource consultant for the North Florida Folklife Project with fellow folklorists Brenda McCallum and Peggy Bulger. After two years of graduate study at Western Kentucky University, DeVane returned to Florida in 1980 to work with Bulger and Doris Dyen on additional field recordings. He then co-directed and co-produced (with McCallum) the Drop On Down in Florida project, which documented and examined sacred and secular music forms found within Florida’s African-American communities. This effort resulted in a two-disc album of field recordings that is now scheduled for reissue (2011-12).

In 1981, DeVane was the folklorist/project director for the Folk Arts in the Schools. Working with the FFP, Hillsborough County School System, and the Tampa-Hillsborough County Arts Council, this project incorporated the study of regional, ethnic, and occupational folklife within the existing format of the mandated Florida Studies curriculum in five fourth- and eighth- grade classes.

DeVane’s archived photographs and recordings were included in the 2005 FFP exhibit, Florida’s Got the Blues. He has also worked as a consultant for the National Folklife Festival, Florida Folk Festival, and Pinecastle Center for the Arts, and established the cane-grinding demonstration areas for Pinecastle and  Morningside Nature Center in Gainesville, Florida. DeVane, who is a musician (guitarist-fiddler), lives in the Gainesville area.


McDonald with cabbage farmer Vince Singleton during fieldwork for the St. Johns River Survey: Hastings, Fla. (1985)

McDonald with cabbage farmer Vince Singleton during fieldwork for the St. Johns River Survey: Hastings, Fla. (1985)

Mary Anne McDonald

Dr. McDonald is currently an ethnographer with the Department of Occupational Medicine at Duke University. After receiving her M.A. in Folklore from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, she spent two decades documenting North Carolina folklife, including publishing in several journals. She also served as president of the North Carolina Folklore Society, which in 2003 awarded McDonald the Brown-Hudson Award for preserving, researching, and disseminating folklore. She later received a doctorate in Public Health, also from the University of North Carolina. In 1985, she worked with Kathleen Figgen on the St. Johns River Survey for the Florida Folklife Program.


Roller with a sponge diving suit while conducting fieldwork for the Maritime Heritage Survey: Tarpon Springs, Fla.(1986)

Roller with a sponge diving suit while conducting fieldwork for the Maritime Heritage Survey: Tarpon Springs, Fla.(1986)

Peter Roller

Ethnomusicologist Roller is an assistant professor of music at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is currently working on a doctoral dissertation about garage rock bands. Roller is also an accomplished music producer and guitarist. In 1986, he produced the album, Mandolin Blues Man, with Yank Rachell (1910-1997). While with the Florida Folklife Program, Roller worked on the Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program, the Florida Folk Arts Survey, and the Maritime Heritage Survey.


Reddy educating school kids on sugar cane harvesting for Rural Folklife Days: White Springs, Fla. (1991)

Reddy educating school kids on sugar cane harvesting for Rural Folklife Days: White Springs, Fla. (1991)

David Reddy

Today the Resource Center Director for the Florida Humanities Council, Reddy worked for the FFP in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Projects that Reddy worked on during his tenure as a state folklorist include the Dudley Farm Project, the Florida Folk Arts Survey, the Sponge Industry Folk Arts Festival, Rural Folklife Days and the Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program.


Sugarcane demonstration at the Rural Folklife Days: White Springs, Fla. (Photographed by Hollingsworth, 1993)

Sugarcane demonstration at the Rural Folklife Days: White Springs, Fla. (Photographed by Hollingsworth, 1993)

Teresa Hollingsworth

Hollingsworth is Traditional Arts Manager for the Southern Arts Federation, in Atlanta. A graduate of the Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University, she has also worked for the Maine Folklife Center. While employed with the FFP in the early 1990s, Hollingsworth worked on the Rural Folklife Days, the Central Florida Folklife Survey and the Duval County Folk Arts in Education program.


Taken during the Ida Goodson Recording Project: Pensacola, Fla. (Photographed by Peterson, 1981)

Taken during the Ida Goodson Recording Project: Pensacola, Fla. (Photographed by Peterson, 1981)

Betsy Peterson

Dr. Peterson is the program director for the Fund for Folk Culture, based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A graduate of the Indian University Folklife Program, she has also worked as traditional arts director for the New England Foundation for the Arts, the program coordinator for Texas Folklife Resources, and a visiting folklore professor at UCLA. While working for the FFP, Peterson worked on the Ida Goodson Recording Project and the Traveling Entertainment Recording Project.


Jon Kay plays an autoharp: Fort George Island, Florida (2001)

Jon Kay plays an autoharp: Fort George Island, Florida (2001)

Jon Kay

Kay is director for Indiana's state folklife program, Traditional Arts Indiana. After graduating from Western Kentucky University's Folklife Program, Kay worked as the Florida Park Service folklorist, based at the Stephen Foster Center in White Springs between 1997 and 2004. In addition to serving as director of the Florida Folk Festival from 2002 to 2004, he also conducted research and offered educational folklife programs in the White Springs area. While in Florida, Kay also worked for the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, wrote for the Florida Humanities Council and participated in numerous exhibits and public programs. In addition to fieldwork, Kay is also a widely respected dulcimer musician.


McNeil, left, with folklorist Ormond Loomis and Doris Dyen during a cakewalk: Pensacola, Florida (1981)

McNeil, left, with folklorist Ormond Loomis and Doris Dyen during a cakewalk: Pensacola, Florida (1981)

Bob McNeil

McNeil was the archivist, as well as a fieldworker, for the Florida Folklife Program in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His indexing system was integral to creation of the present database. A native of Pensacola, McNeil received his master's degree in American History at the University of West Florida. After several years with the FFP, he transferred to the Museum of Florida History as a historian with interests in Native American and immigrant studies. Bob's major exhibition projects in the last ten years included Sunshine and the Silver Screen: A Century of Florida Films; and Follow That Dream: Florida's Rock and Roll Legends. He recently drew upon his folklife experience for the 2005 exhibit, Florida's Got the Blues, which included material from Mary McClain, Johnny Brown, and Moses Williams.