Local History and Such

American Life Histories
Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project


These titles are mostly first-person accounts of life in Florida collected during the Great Depression. The WPA project categories include: LIFE AND SONGS IN SLAVERY and OLD FAMILIES.

Subjects include: AGRICULTURE, Including agricultural workers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers and gardeners; LOCAL HISTORY AND GENEALOGY, including Civil War reminiscences and former slaves; OCCUPATIONS AND INDUSTRIES, including tradesmen, teachers, lawyers, bankers, insurance workers, cigarmakers, watermen, mining, health care, turpentine and unemployment; RELIGION, including ministers, wedding customs, and Father Divine; POLITICS, including attitudes toward voting, woman's suffrage; HEALTH CARE, including midwifery, black physician, and blind residents; DAILY LIFE, including home furnishings, food and diet; FOLKLORE, including superstitions, songs, and dialect; and ETHNIC/NATIONAL GROUPS, including Greeks, Cubans and Seminole Indians.

Interviews were conducted by project workers M. H. Arends, Ruth D. Bolton, Mary C. Bosworth, Lindsay M. Bryan, Gladys Buck, Elvira E. Burnell, Bertha R. Comstock, Barbara Berry Darsey, Walter A. DeLamater, Paul Diggs, Bill Dowda, Mabel Francis, Modeste Hargis, Alberta Johnson, Stetson Kennedy, Henry E. Perrine, Wilbur Edward Roberts, Rose Shepherd, Lillian Stedman, F. Valdez and Dorothy Wood.


Sarah Jones, the Jones Family

A.E. Harley, Civil Engineer

A.G. Hartridge, Lawyer

A.J. Manning's Reminiscences

Albert and Anne Denham

Albert Gallatin Philips, Sheriff


Alexander Mitchell, Financier

Alice Fairwether, Squatter Farmer

Anna Alden

Autobiography of a Person

The Bennett Family

Bradley Kennelly

The Burns Family

Ceceilia Patrourtsa

Charlie and Lucinda Robinson

Dan and Amelia Threet

Dave and Jeanette Bevely

Dennis Potinos (Part II)

Dennis Potinos (Part I)

Dr. M. Santos

E.J. and Mattie Marshall

Earl Guenther

Ed and Ida Gray

Ella Lassiter

Enrique and Amanda

Erickson Recalls Windjammer Days

A Florida Squatter Family

Florida Squatters

Frank and Ella Merryvale

Frank Sowersby Gray

George and Bessie Derrick

Granpa's Life (Extract)

A Greek Restauranteur

Greek Study

The Haskins Family

Henrietta Elizabeth Sellers

Henry & Rosa Maddox

Irene Jackson

Jack Dillin

Rev. W.C. Sale

James Kerby Ward

Jane Clayton

Jaydy Abbin

John and Hannah Whitehead

John and Rebecca Boyd

John and Susan Wright

John Proctor

Judge Henry Bethune Philips - Part 1

Judge Henry Bethune Philips - Part 2

Julien Philip Benjamin

Kelsey L. Pharr

Keystone - Villa Alexandria

Keystone Estate

Lolly Bleu, Florida Squatter

Maggie Mae Lyttle

Maria Gonzales, Florida Squatter

Martin Cross

Mary Taylor

Mary Windsor

Mike Osceola

Milledge Richardson

The Miller Family


  Miss Henrietta C. Dozier

Mister Homer

Mr. & Mrs. Frederick Goethe

Mr. Enrique Pendas

Mr. Fermin Souto

Mr. H.P. Sedding

Mr. John C. English

Mr. John Cacciatore

Mr. Pedro Barrios

Mr. Vandegriff

Mrs. Alexander Mitchell

Mrs. Amelia Devoe

Mrs. Brooke G. White

Mrs. Eliza Kelly Brady

Mrs. Elizabeth Dismukes

Mrs. Eulalia McCranie

Mrs. Irene Lake

Mrs. Isabel Barnwell

Mrs. John L. Hall

Mrs. Martha Ellen Devan

Mrs. Mattie Jackson

Mrs. V.S. Williamson

The Newton Family

A Day at Nueva Esperanza

Old Families, Spanish Grants, and Old Plantations of Nassau County

The Olsen's (A Shrimper's Family)

Patience Flucher and Family

Pedro and Estrella


Red Bank Plantation

Red Bank

Rev. Elias Skipitares (Part 1)

Rev. Elias Skipitares (Part 2)

Rev. Harden W. Stuckey

Rich and Lula Gray

Wilbur Edward Roberts

Robert and Rosa Lee Scott

Robert and Ruby Kellum

Robert Smith

Ruby Beach

Saddler's Point - Ortega

Sarah Jones (Part 1)

Sarah Jones (Part 2)

Slaves of Nueva Esperanza

St. Elmo W. Acosta (Part 1)

St. Elmo W. Acosta (Part 2)

The Stembler Family

The Story of Immokalee

The Story of Juan Gomez

T. J. Marshall

The Thomas Family

Three Generations - White and Black

Turpentine Man

Villa Alexandria

Villa Alexandria and Jacksonville

Virginia Suffolk

The Wade Family

Will and Julia Stembridge

William A. Platt

William and Corneal Jackson

William F. Hawley (Part 1)

William F. Hawley (Part 2)

William Felos

Text from: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection

"These life histories were written by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940. The Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers from 24 states. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents consist of drafts and revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations. Pseudonyms are often substituted for individuals and places named in the narrative texts."

NOTE: The life histories and articles presented here have been read and compared to images of the original pages, and then edited to place them in a more readable form.  Handwritten notes have sometimes been deleted, transcriptions errors have been corrected, and many questionable transcriptions have been clarified. Some misspellings have been left as they were originally typed.

On occasion, at the beginning of an article under the title, I will include a section I've called 'Tom's note:'  These are personal observations that may or may not add value or expand the meaning of the article for you.


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Historical and Community Content

NEW!! DeMotte, Indiana History (1997)

New project: American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
      (This will be an ongoing project with entries added frequently.)

Churches in DeMotte, Indiana

City Methodist - Gary's Sacred Ruin
     Selections from 1967 City Methodist Church Directory (January 2004)
     Historic Gary Church Set for Wrecking Ball (June, 2005)
     Aerial Photos of City Methodist (August, 2005)

Photographs of Historic Places in Jasper County, Indiana
     Jasper County Courthouse  (February, 2002)
     Rensselaer Carnegie Library (February, 2002)
     St. Joseph Indian Normal School (Drexel Hall) (February, 2002)
     Independence Methodist Church (October, 2002)
     Fountain Park Chautauqua (October, 2002)
     Remington Water Tower (February, 2005)

Memorial to Victims of Flight 4184 (February, 2002)

Lake Michigan Vistas (May, 2002)

Door Prairie Auto Museum (LaPorte, Indiana) (September, 2002)

Northwest Indiana District Church of the Nazarene former Campground (San Pierre, Lomax Station)
     Aerial Photos of former Campground (August, 2005)

Who's Who In the District (Northern Indiana Church of the Nazarene, 1939-40)

Nazarene Album (Northern Indiana District Church of the Nazarene, 1934)

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