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Finding Aids to Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture


Compiled by: Laura K. Crawley and Joseph C. Hickerson
Series Editor: Ann Hoog
Revised: February 2014

For additional information about Archive of Folk Culture collections, contact the Folklife Reading Room. To request copies, see our webpages regarding audio materials and photographic materials. Please refer to the AFC and/or AFS numbers when requesting information. All indications of time duration listed in this finding aid are estimates.

PLEASE NOTE: This finding aid lists collections in several different divisions of the Library of Congress. When requesting materials please note the division headers which are highlighted in the center of the page.


Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle expedition collection
Two hundred and twenty-seven discs of African American, Bahamian, and Haitian songs, music, tales, and church services recorded on instantaneous discs by Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle in summer 1935 for the Archive of Folk Song. Recordings include blues, work songs, ballads, tall tales, dance music, ring dances, circle games, sea songs, string band music, voodoo music, guitar, harmonica, drums, children's games and songs; gospel music, and church services with sermons, hymns, and prayers. [catalog record]

AFC 1935/001: AFS 377B1: One disc containing "Bella Mina" sung by group led by Zora Neale Hurston. Recorded in Chosen, Florida, June 1935. (1 minute)

Alan Lomax Haiti collection
Two hundred ninety-eight discs of field recordings of Haitian music and spoken word, including dance music, songs, Vodou ceremonies and drumming, children's games and songs, stories, and interviews. Collected for the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song. The collection also includes Alan Lomax's field notes, lists of songs, drawings, and related materials. [catalog record]

AFC 1937/010: AFS 1879A1-3: One disc containing three American Negro children's game songs and explanation, sung and spoken by Hurston. Recorded in Petionville, Haiti, December 21, 1936. (Hurston was in Haiti conducting independent research.) (3 minutes)

AFC 1937/010: AFS 1879A1: "Bluebird."

AFC 1937/010: AFS 1879A2: "Bama, Bama."

AFC 1937/010: AFS 1879A3: "There Stands a Bluebird," with explanation.

Herbert Halpert 1939 Southern States recording expedition
Four hundred and nineteen 12-inch discs of instrumentals, monologs, prayers, sermons, songs, and stories recorded in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, by Herbert Halpert, March 15-June 23, 1939, for the Folk Arts Committee of the WPA and the Library of Congress. The collection includes 4 linear inches of correspondence, fieldnotes, logs, and musical transcriptions. [catalog record] [online presentation]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3135-3136; 3137B-3139; 3144B: Six discs containing eighteen songs, stories, and explanations sung and spoken by Hurston. Recorded in Jacksonville, Florida, June 18, 1939. (45 minutes)

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3135A1: "Gonna See My Long-Haired Babe." Railroad spiking song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3135B1: "Let's Shake It." Railroad lining song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3135B2: "Dat Old Black Gal." Spiking song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3136A: "Shove It Over." Lining song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3136B1: "Mule on the Mount." [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3136B2: Description of lining track. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3137B1-2: "Georgia Skin" and "Let the Deal Go Down." Spoken description of a card game interspersed with a gambling song, with explanation. [listen] (Georgia Skin); [listen] (Let the Deal Go Down)

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3138A1: "Uncle Bud." "Jook" song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3138A2: "Oh, the Buford Boat Done Come." Dance song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3138B1: "Ever Been Down." Blues song with explanation.

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3138B2: "Halimuhfack." "Jook" song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3139A1: "Tampa." Song Hurston says she learned as a child, with explanation.

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3139A2: "Po' Gal." Blues song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3139B1: "Mama Don't Want No Peas, No Rice." Bahaman song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3139B2: "Crow Dance." Bahaman dance song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3144B1: "Wake Up, Jacob." Camp rousing song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3144B2: "Oh, Mr. Brown." Dance song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3144B3: "Tilly, Lend Me Your Pigeon." Bahaman song with explanation. [listen]

AFC 1939/005: AFS 3144B4: "Evelina," with explanation. [listen]

National Folk Festival, 1938
One 12-inch and 39 16-inch discs of instrumentals, songs, dance music, and folk dancing (Morris dance, sword dance, square dance, and social dances) performed by Scottish, American Indian, Spanish American, Anglo-American, African American, and Pennsylvania Dutch performers. The collection includes 3/4 linear inch of song lists, newspaper articles, and programs. Sarah Gertrude Knott makes some introductions. Recorded primarily at the National Folk Festival in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Recording Company, May 6-8, 1938. [catalog record]

AFC 1950/017: AFS 9845A1-6: One 16-inch disc containing six songs sung by a choir led by Hurston, recorded May 6, 1938. The choir was sponsored by the Rollins College Folklore Group of Winter Park, Florida. (11 minutes)

AFC 1950/017: AFS 9845A1: "Can't You Line It." Lining song similar to AFS 3136 A.

AFC 1950/017: AFS 9845A2: "Mule on de Mount." Spiking song similar to AFS 3136 B.

AFC 1950/017: AFS 9845A3: "Dat Old Black Gal." Spiking song similar to AFS 3135 B2.

AFC 1950/017: AFS 9845A4: "Oh Lula, Oh Gal." Spiking song similar to AFS 3135 A1.

AFC 1950/017: AFS 9845A5: "Somebody's Knockin' at My Door." Blues song with guitar.

AFC 1950/017: AFS 9845A6: Unidentified song.

Mary Elizabeth Barnicle and Tillman Cadle interview conducted by Gene Moore
Four 7-inch tapes of an interview with Mary Elizabeth Barnicle and Tillman Cadle recorded in Townsend, Tennessee, by Michael Clark and Gene Moore, January--February 1977. Subjects include personal and family history; Barnicle's career as a folklorist; friendships with Zora Neale Hurston, Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, Alan and John A. Lomax, and Aunt Molly Jackson; fieldwork in Kentucky; and a Harlan County strike. [catalog record]

AFC 1979/077: AFS 19,536A: One tape that includes (about two-thirds of the way through) Barnicle discussing Hurston, the Lomaxes, and the 1935 expedition to Florida, Georgia, and The Bahamas. (20 minutes)


There is more information about Zora Neale Hurston in the Archive's vertical files, including correspondence with and about Hurston, articles, and other ephemera.



Note: A selection of plays by Zora Neale Hurston, and related articles, can be viewed in an online presentation entitled Zora Neale Hurston Plays at the Library of Congress.

Franz Boas Papers [catalog record] [finding aid]

Microfilm 18,375-44P-1P: Reels 27-33, 37, 43: Includes letters to and from Hurston, which are arranged by date.

1. Thirteen letters from Hurston to Boas spanning the period of March 29, 1927, to April 1940.

2. Sixteen letters from Boas to Hurston spanning the period of March 24, 1927, to April 1, 1935.

3. One letter from Hurston to Otto Klineberg dated October 22, 1929.

4. One letter from the Julius Rosenwald Fund to Hurston dated December 19, 1935.

Other letters that mention Hurston or her work may be included in this collection.

Countee Cullen Papers [catalog record]

Microfilm 16,868-7P: Reel 1: Includes two letters from Hurston to Cullen dated March 11, 1926, and March 5, 1943.

Margaret Mead papers and South Pacific Ethnographic Archives [catalog record] [finding aid]

Container C5: Includes a 37-page Hurston manuscript titled "Ritualistic Expression from the Lips of the Communicants of the Seventh Day Church of God, Beaufort, South Carolina" and a letter to Hurston from Mead dated May 20, 1940, in Folder H, 1940.

Container O20: Includes several letters from Hurston to Jane Belo, and from Hurston to Jane Belo and Frank Tannenbaum.

1. Four letters from Hurston to Jane Belo dated December 3, 1938; March 20 and May 2, 1940; and October 1, 1944.

2. Two letters from Hurston to Jane Belo and Frank Tannenbaum dated October 14 and October 18, 1944.

3. One letter from Norman Chalfin and co- signed by Hurston to Jane Belo dated May 20, 1940.

Container P94: Includes five photographs of Hurston in folder "Jane Belo Photos--Portrait File."

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People records [catalog record] [finding aid]

MSS34140: Group I: Walter White's personal correspondence file is located in this collection. The bulk of White's personal correspondence (containers 90 through 112) has been reproduced on thirteen reels of microfilm. There is no exact listing of the number or dates of letters to or from Hurston contained in White's correspondence. One letter has been documented, from White to Hurston dated March 14, 1934 (container C104, reel 29).

Lawrence Spivak Papers [catalog record] [finding aid]

MSS40964: Container 37: Includes a 6-page page proof titled "You Don't Know Us Negroes" submitted to American Mercury magazine. This article was never published in the magazine. According to the author index cards in Container C3 of the Spivak Papers, Hurston's published articles were titled: "Story in Harlem Slang" (July 1942); "The 'Pet Negro' System" (May 1943); "High John de Conquer" (October 1943); "Negroes Without Self-Pity" (November 1943); "The Last Slave Ship" (March 1944); and "Rise of the Begging Joints" (March 1945).

Carter G. Woodson Papers [catalog record] [finding aid]

MSS46342: Microfilm Reel 3: Woodson's correspondence is arranged alphabetically. One undated letter from Hurston to Woodson has been identified on this reel (the letter and enclosure are filed in the "H" miscellany folder in container 5 of the collection).

United States Work Projects Administration records [catalog record] [finding aid]

MSS55715: Container A591: Includes under "Traditional Folklore Project--Florida; Negro Lore," folders containing Hurston manuscripts: "Negro Folk Tales" (two pages); "Negro Legends" (7 pages); "Negro Religious Customs" (8 pages); and "Negro Folk Customs and Folk Lore" (26 pages); "Negro Work Songs" (57 pages), but difficult to determine how much is Hurston's work beyond the first 5 pages.

MSS55715: Container A875-A876: Includes under "Negro Studies Project-- Florida," folders containing three Hurston manuscripts:

"Eatonville (When You Look at It)" (2 pages), in "Contemporary Culture-- Lifestyle" folder.

"The Sanctified Church" (6 pages), in "Contemporary Culture--Religious Organizations" folder (same as "Negro Religious Customs" in Container A591).

"Negro Work Songs" (5 pages), in "Folklore--Songs, Ballads, and Rhymes" folder. This same document in its entirely (57 pages) is found in Container A591. It is difficult to determine how much is Hurston's work beyond the first 5 pages.



Note: There may be additional Hurston material not listed here. Contact the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room for more information.

Margaret Meade Collection

Eight 16mm rolls of footage taken in Florida between 1927 and 1929 were identified as Hurston material. In 1995, M/B/RS staff verified that seven 16mm rolls taken in South Carolina in April and May 1940 are also Hurston films. Though Hurston's exact role in the production of these films is not known, the footage documents an African-American church in Beaufort, S.C. which Hurston wrote about extensively. There are reference prints available for viewing for all of the Hurston films in the Mead Collection, and video copies of the original eight rolls.

American playhouse. Zora is my name.

VBG 6995-6996: Ninety-minute video recording of February 14, 1990, American Playhouse television broadcast of Ruby Dee's stage production. [catalog record]



The Mary Margaret McBride show [catalog record]

RGA 4836 (playback copy): One 10-inch tape of Mary Margaret McBride interviewing Hurston on WEAF radio, January 25, 1943. Topics include Dust Tracks on a Road, Hurston's experiences while writing Jonah's Gourd Vine, and a description of zombies in Haiti. Hurston also briefly describes her first experiences in the field gathering folklore.



These and other photos of and by Hurston can be viewed online via the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.

Biographical File: Includes serval photographs of Hurston (call number: NYWTS - BIOG--Hurston, Zora--Author--Voodoo dancer

Lomax photograph collection depicting folk musicians, primarily in the southern United States and the Bahamas [catalog record]

Lot 7414-C, N94: Taken in Eatonville, Florida, 1935, of Hurston seated on a porch with Rochelle Harris and Gabriel Brown playing his guitar. (Negative #LC-USZ61-1777)

Lot 7414-C, N109: Taken in Eatonville, Florida, 1935, of Hurston, wearing a hat, standing outdoors with children.

Lot 7414-G, N300: Hurston, wearing a hat and laughing, standing outdoors. (Negative #LC-USZ61-1859)

Lot 7414-G, N301: Hurston wearing a hat and standing outdoors; similar to N300.

Lot 7414-G, N318: Taken in Belle Glade, Florida, 1935, of Hurston standing outdoors with field and building in the background.

Carl Van Vechten Photographs: Includes photograph taken in 1938 of Hurston, wearing a hat, seated before a zig-zag patterned backdrop in a studio. (Negative #LC-USZ62-79898)


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