African-American performers were recorded in the turpentine camps near Cross City; the Clara White Mission (then serving as a WPA office) in Jacksonville; the Caruja Ranch near Kenansville; a shrimphouse in Mayport; a menhaden fishing boat off the Georgia coast; and the home of an ex-slave in Sebring. Performers sang ballads, spirituals, and work songs; narrated beliefs and superstitions, humorous recitations, and life histories; and danced a tap dance. Some performances imitate the Geechee, or Gullah, dialect, specific to a group of African Americans who settled on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Their geographic isolation enabled them to preserve more of their West African heritage, including some elements of language. Zora Neale Hurston, novelist, folklorist, and Federal Writers' Project writer, performs eighteen songs learned from her childhood in Eatonville, Florida, and her own collecting trips. See also Bahamian Americans.
Bahamian-American performers of African descent were recorded in Key West, singing songs learned in the Bahamas. Bahamian-American performers of British descent were recorded in Riviera (now Riviera Beach), singing "Conch songs" and telling tales. These British settlers of the Bahama Islands who later emigrated to South Florida were also known as "Conchs."
British settlers of the United States. In South Florida these settlers tended to be of Scotch-Irish descent, and were also known as "Crackers." British-American performers were recorded in the turpentine camps near Cross City; Jacksonville; the Caruja Ranch near Kenansville; Riviera; and Sebring. Performances include cowboy songs, dance music, and personal experience narratives. See also Bahamian Americans.
The term "Conch," while now more widely used to refer to a native of Key West, Florida, originally referred to British settlers of the Bahama Islands who later emigrated to South Florida. The unique accent of the Conchs--a mixture of British and Bahamian dialects--interested the WPA fieldworkers as much as the songs and stories related by the Conchs. See Bahamian Americans.
The term "Cracker," while now more widely known as a derogatory term for rural whites, has a more specific--and less insulting--definition in Florida. The Florida Crackers are whites of Celtic descent who first settled South Florida around the mid-eighteenth century. Crackers usually migrated to the Florida Everglades from Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas, drawn to the fertile land for ranching and farming, and to the peninsula's plentiful resources for fishing. See British Americans.
Ybor City, now a neighborhood within Tampa, was settled in 1886 by Cuban cigar manufacturers under the leadership of Vicente Martínez de Ybor. The cigar manufacturers moved from Key West to Tampa in order to avoid unionization of their workers. Cuban-American performers were recorded in Ybor City at the Cuban Club (El Circulo Cubano de Tampa), and in private homes, and in Key West at the San Carlos Institute (a grammar school owned and operated by the Cuban government, with classes taught in both English and Spanish) and other sites, singing ballads, children's songs, national anthems, and work songs, and telling riddles and tales, usually in Spanish but often with an English translation.
Czech-American performers were recorded in Masaryktown (settled by Czech farmers in 1924 and named for Thomas G. Masaryk, the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic), singing songs learned from their native country, including dance songs and patriotic songs, in the Czech language.
Greeks, along with Italians and Minorcans, first came to Florida in 1768, led by Dr. Andrew Turnbull. Turnbull had been the British Consul at Smyrna, Turkey, and settled New Smyrna Beach, Florida. When the colony came to an end in 1777, the settlers relocated to St. Augustine. Over a century later, in 1905, Greek sponge fishers settled Tarpon Springs. Greek-American performers were recorded in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Tarpon Springs, singing sacred and secular traditional songs in Greek.
Italians, along with Greeks and Minorcans, first came to Florida in 1768, led by Dr. Andrew Turnbull. Turnbull had been the British Consul at Smyrna, Turkey, and settled New Smyrna Beach, Florida. When the colony came to an end in 1777, the settlers relocated to St. Augustine. Later, Italian Americans joined the cigar manufacturing trade in the Latin-American community of Ybor City. One Italian-American performer was recorded in Ybor City, performing a rhymed prayer in Italian and being interviewed in English by fieldworker Stetson Kennedy.
Minorcans, from an island off the coast of Spain, first came to Florida in 1768, along with Italians and Greeks, led by Dr. Andrew Turnbull. Turnbull had been the British Consul at Smyrna, Turkey, and settled New Smyrna Beach, Florida. When the colony came to an end in 1777, the Minorcan settlers relocated to St. Augustine. Minorcan-American performers were recorded in St. Augustine, singing Minorcan and Spanish folksongs in Catalan and Spanish.
Seminole performers were recorded on the reservation near Brighton, singing traditional children's songs and songs from the Hunting Dance and the Green Corn Dance (a spiritual ritual of purification and thanksgiving held each spring) in the Muskogee language.
Slovak-American performers were recorded in Slavia (a colony settled in 1912 by Slovak immigrants who had originally settled in Cleveland, Ohio), singing sacred and secular songs in Slovak.
One Syrian-American performer, who had emigrated to Florida in 1920, was recorded in Jacksonville singing a lullaby in the Arabic language. The lullaby is based on an historical incident which took place in fourteenth-century Lebanon.