AfriGeneas Writers Forum
"Contested Visions of Florida"
Although Juliet Gorman's website discusses two Florida projects conducted in the 1930's, I've focused on the Federal Writers Project.
The 1930's WPA documented the culture and history of America. Although many of us associate the WPA with the slave narratives, we know that it encompassed a lot more American cultural life. One of the biggest frustrations about the published Slave Narratives is that very few of them include ex-slaves who actually lived in Florida for a significant number of years. Unfortunately the chronicles of slave life throughout all of Florida remain in the WPA archives. In my search for West Florida narratives, I found the information below from Oberlin College. I’m pleased to share it with you.
Juliet Gorman, author of " Jukin it Out: Contested Visions of Florida" and its website, takes us on a non-linear presentation and "voyage" through the texts and images of the Florida Writers Project.
You won't encounter a smooth "voyage" as Gorman cautions in her title. She compares difference in photographs depicting Blacks and Whites. The digitized letters between Mary Branham (secretary for the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Florida), Carita Doggett Corse (Florida State Director of the FWP), and Henry Alsberg (National Director of the FWP), concerning the use of the term "Civil War" vs. the "War are very revealing. In her introduction she writes:
"This web site explores the issues of narrative and representation in two New Deal cultural projects. Through the work of the Federal Writers' Project in Florida and photographs taken by the Farm Security Administration, I use the image of Florida to work out larger questions about a "nation of communities," documentary expression in the 1930s, and the politics of public history."
Her unique and creative presentation, including optional navigational links helps to draw the reader into her critique of 1930's writers’ and photographer's points of view. Gorman's clear writing style is admirable.
You can begin your voyage at the link below, or if you choose, click on another subject button. No matter which route you choose, at the end you'll walk away with an understanding of the Federal Writers Project, the 1930's and Florida.