The adhering to guest article is by Ann Hoog, folklife specialist from the American Folklife facility at the Library that Congress. Come celebrate Black history Month ~ above this critical day the February, Ann has written the following post on the Library’s particularly Zora Neale Hurston collections.

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Among the American Folklife Center’s substantial collections that ethnography, folk song, and spoken word is the videotaped voice of celebrated writer and also folklorist Zora Neale Hurston. Consisted of are songs and narratives taped in Florida and also Georgia in 1935 with fellow folklorists Alan Lomax and also Mary Elizabeth Barnicle, 3 songs sung through Hurston because that Lomax in Haiti in December 1936, nineteen songs and narratives perform by her and also recorded through Florida commonwealth Writers’ project colleague and folklorist Herbert Halpert, and also six song of a choir she led in ~ the 1938 National people Festival in Washington, D.C.


A smiling Zora Neale Hurston.* Photo probably taken throughout the Lomax-Hurston-Barnicle recording expedition to Georgia, Florida, and also the Bahamas, 1935.

Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida, and eventually walk on to study anthropology at Barnard College and also Columbia University. She learned under the remarkable Franz Boas, who motivated a generation that anthropologists including Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. She fieldwork during the 1920s-1930s to be primarily conducted in afri American neighborhoods of the South and also Caribbean, whereby she gathered the stories, music, and the dental poetry that fills the wait of both work-related and leisure in everyday life. Hurston’s celebrated works such together Mules and Men (1935) and also Their eyes Were watching God (1937) save on computer the songs and narratives that filled her life both together a child and also as a college student of anthropology. Hurston was not only an artist in the composing of afri American folklore and also oral tradition, but likewise an artist in its performance.

Like she writings, she documentary performance style reflects a an individual connection to this creative cultural calculation in which she adopted being both documenter and performer. Nineteen recordings of these performances, created the WPA, are accessible as component of the digital presentation Florida Folklife native the WPA Collections. In “Georgia Skin” Hurston describes and sings a gambling card video game she observed at a turpentine camp in Florida during one of she 1939 ar trips:

When the Principals have acquired their cards, and all the Pikers have gained theirs … he’ll desire them to placed their bets down, and he’ll say, “Put the money on the wood and make the bet go an excellent / and also then again, put it in sight and say you will fight.”And for this reason they all gain the bets down and also then lock holler, “Let the deal go down, boys, let the deal go down” and some of castle will start singing it.

This explanation is followed by a record of Hurston’s performance of the full song “Let the transaction Go Down” as it would certainly be sung throughout the game. Woven together between chorus and verse is narration the what would certainly be happening throughout the game including conversations and arguments that could occur in between the players:

Let the transaction go down, boys.Let the transaction go down.

I ain’t acquired no money, Lord, partner.I ain’t got no change.

Let the deal go down boys,Let the deal go down.

There you walk Blue Front,I’ll display you around getting a card and telling a lie around it.Put up some an ext money!

Let the transaction go down boys,Let the deal go down.

These recordings catch not only Hurston’s voice, but also that that Herbert Halpert, who have the right to be heard off-mic peppering her with a fieldworker’s questioning, trying come gather together much around the game as possible. In various other recordings Halpert and Hurston can be heard conversing, folklorist to folklorist, around where she learned the songs, that she learned castle from, and also how the melody or verses adjust from ar to place. Hurston provides ready answers to each and also at time provides exact names that the world from who she learned the song. At other times she replies, “I just get in the crowd with people and also they song it, and I listen as best I can. Then I start joining in v a phrase or two and finally I acquire so I can sing a verse … and also I sing them ago to the human being until they phone call me the I can sing it just like them … and then i count on mine memory.” (listen to: Halimuhfack)

Though the audio that the original performer or the really card game from who Hurston learned these songs, rhymes, and verses wasn’t recorded, Hurston’s performance starts to sound favor the performance of a folklorist’s ar notes, resulting in a richly illustrated context of a game of cards as it is played, sung, and also spoken, in a style distinct to the art and life of Zora Neale Hurston.

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Latasha DraxJanuary 27, 2015 in ~ 11:44 am

Thank you for sharing this post around Zora Neale Hurston. However, the picture is not of her.

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