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Zora Neale Hurston, the WPA in Florida, and the Cross City Turpentine Camp

Going down one road I smelt hot rosin and looked and saw a “gum patch.” That’s a turpentine still to the outsider, but gum path (sic) to those who work them.
- Zora Hurston

History History
Zora Neale Hurston and her work with the WPA in Florida.
Western Union telegram Documents
"Turpentine" by Zora Neale Hurston. Description of Hurston and the trip to Cross City by Stetson Kennedy.
Sniff kit Photos
Photographs of Hurston, her home town of Eatonville, and turpentine workers and camps.
Lesson Plans
For Grades 9-12. Meet Sunshine State Standards for social studies (SS.A.5.4) and language arts (LA.A.2.4).

Zora Neale Hurston was already a published writer when she began working for the Florida division of the Work Projects Administration (WPA). Hurston never mentioned her work with the Federal Writer's Project in her autobiography, perhaps because of the stigma associated with the WPA's relief programs.

In August of 1939, Hurston went on a recording expedition to the turpentine camps in Cross City, Florida.

Documents relating to this expedition include:

  • Zora Neale Hurston's essay "Turpentine".
  • Folklorist Stetson Kennedy's recollections of working with Hurston and of the trip to Cross City.




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