Florida Memory will be down for scheduled maintenance today, October 31st, from 5 pm until 7 pm. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Lucreaty Clark demonstrates the process of making a white oak basket. Florida folklorist Peggy Bulger served as the interviewer and photographer.

Folklife Program staff compiled photographs from these interviews to create a slide-tape show called It'll Be Gone When I'm Gone; that slide-tape show is the source of the images on this web page.

Lucreaty Clark carrying her ax in search of white oak to make baskets (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark carrying her ax in search of white oak to make baskets (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79642a

Notes: She was born in Jefferson County in 1904 and learned to make white oak baskets from her parents, who learned from their parents. Originally these sturdy baskets were used to hold cotton and carry vegetables. The tradition of white oak basket making has been carried on by Lucreaty Clark's grandson, Alphonso Jennings. Forms part of series S1577, Florida Folklife Archive, Photographs and Slides of Folk Arts, Artisans, and Performers.

Lucreaty Clark pointing towards white oak trees she will use to make baskets (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark pointing towards white oak trees she will use to make baskets (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79643a

Lucreaty Clark (1904-1986)

Lucreaty Clark was born in Lamont, Florida, in 1904. Here she learned to make white oak baskets from her parents. Her mother and father originally made white oak baskets for use on the North Florida plantation where they lived and worked. Oak splint baskets were primarily used on plantations in north and north-central Florida, an area where white oak trees are naturally found.

Lucreaty Clark pointing at white oak tree she will chop down to make baskets (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark pointing at white oak tree she will chop down to make baskets (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79647a

Lucreaty Clark chopping down a white oak tree to use for basket making (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark chopping down a white oak tree to use for basket making (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79650a

Lucreaty Clark holding up leaves of the white oak tree she will use to make baskets (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark holding up leaves of the white oak tree she will use to make baskets (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79645a

Lucreaty Clark chopping up a white oak tree she will use for making baskets (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark chopping up a white oak tree she will use for making baskets (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79654a

Lucreaty Clark grasping the white oak tree she chopped down to make baskets (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark grasping the white oak tree she chopped down to make baskets (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79655a

Ax and small piece of white oak used by Lucreaty Clark for basket making (not after 1979)

Ax and small piece of white oak used by Lucreaty Clark for basket making (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79657a

Lucreaty Clark during a break from splitting the white oak tree she will use for basket making (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark during a break from splitting the white oak tree she will use for basket making (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79659e

Accompanying note: “She makes the head first and then puts the body together. She'll make the heads like maybe she's going to make a hundred. Sometimes she makes fifty and then she cuts up the body the same amount and then she starts working on it.”

Making the White Oak Basket

To make a basket, Clark would start by finding a white oak tree of a specific size and width. Once a tree had been selected and cut down, Clark would split the white oak logs into thin strips or "splits." White oak splits are naturally pliable and do not need to be soaked in water to make them softer, as with other woods. After trimming the splits with a knife, Clark would weave the basket from the bottom up. There were no formal plans to guide her, nor were any measurements taken during the process. The final step was finishing the rim.

View of white oak and strips made by Lucreaty Clark for basket making (not after 1979)

View of white oak and strips made by Lucreaty Clark for basket making (not after 1979)

Image number: FS79664a

Lucreaty Clark preparing strips of white oak for basket making (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark preparing strips of white oak for basket making (not after 1979)

Image Number: FS79700a

Lucreaty Clark peeling strips of white oak to make baskets (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark peeling strips of white oak to make baskets (not after 1979)

Image Number: FS79674a

Lucreaty Clark rests from peeling strips of white oak for basket making (not after 1979)

Lucreaty Clark rests from peeling strips of white oak for basket making (not after 1979)

Image Number: FS79685a