February 10, 2011

Man Fishing at Blue Springs

This undated photograph of Blue Springs in Marion County, Florida captures the tranquility offered by Florida’s springs before the rapid development of urban centers in central Florida altered the landscape. Marion County was the location of a U.S. government military agency established in 1825 to oversee displaced Seminoles. White settlers began moving into the area in the early to mid-19th century to take advantage of the abundant farm land and numerous freshwater springs and spring-fed rivers. Trading posts and communities formed around the springs, including what would later become cities such as Belleview, Dunnellon, and the eventual county seat, Ocala, named for a settlement of the Timucuans. This image of a man fishing with a cane pole near a crude lodge captures an idyllic scene of early Florida life centered on its springs.

Lucreaty Clark Weaving a White Oak Basket

Lucreaty J. Clark was born in 1904 in Lamont, Florida. She continued the craft of making white oak baskets, which she learned from her mother and father. Her parents originally made these sturdy baskets for use on the plantation where they lived and worked in north Florida, an area where white oaks are plentiful. The baskets were used to hold cotton and carry vegetables. Before making baskets, Clark would select a tree of the right size and, once cut down, would split the logs into thin strips or “splits.” White oak splits are naturally pliable and do not require soaking to make them softer, as do other woods. Clark would weave a basket from the bottom up, without a formal plan or measurements, finishing with the rim. Clark died in 1986, but the family tradition of white oak basket making was carried on by her grandson, Alphonso Jennings. This image from the Florida Folklife Archive records this unique folk art form of the southeastern United States.

White Springs School 5th Graders Dancing

This photograph of children dancing is from the 1959 Florida Folk Festival. The festival first took place in 1953, on the grounds of the Stephen Foster Memorial along the banks of the Suwanee River in White Springs. The Suwannee formed the boundary between the Timucuans and the Apalachees, and the area was also considered special by the Seminole and Miccosukee peoples. The springs were considered by several indigenous American peoples to have healing powers. Settlers who began arriving in the area in the 1830s also advocated taking the waters, and tourism developed for travelers seeking cures for various ailments. The town also drew wealth from cotton and lumber. The Florida Folk Festival is one of the oldest and largest such festivals in the United States, and celebrates the arts and crafts of all Floridians.

Cuban Refugee Breaks Down Upon his Arrival at Key West, Florida from Mariel, Cuba During the Mariel Boatlift

The Mariel Boatlift was a mass exodus of Cubans from Mariel Port on the island of Cuba to Florida between April and November 1980. Departure by boat was permitted by the Castro government after several years of improving relations between Cuba and the United States under President Jimmy Carter, a period that coincided with a severe downturn in the Cuban economy. Perhaps as many as 125,000 Cubans made the journey to Florida on overcrowded craft of varying size and seaworthiness. Political opinion in the United States began to turn against Carter after media reports revealed that recently released convicted criminals and mental patients were among those seeking asylum. This image, by photographer and firefighter Dale M. McDonald, shows the overwhelming emotions of a refugee at arriving safely in Key West from Cuba.

Golfers by the Miami Biltmore Hotel

The Biltmore Hotel, built in 1925, is a large Spanish-style structure with a tower modeled after the Giralda Tower of Seville’s cathedral. Constructed on 19.8 acres (8 hectares), the hotel featured opulent interiors, courtyards, a country club, winding canals, formal gardens, and a golf course. Built by George Merrick, the developer of the Coral Gables part of Miami, with John McEntee Bowman, to designs by Leonard Schultze and S. Fullerton Weaver, the hotel soon became a fashionable winter resort. Surrounded by its world-class golf course and home to the largest swimming pool in the world, the Biltmore was an attraction for celebrities, political leaders, and wealthy tourists the world over. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and Al Capone were all frequent guests. The hotel contributed in large part to the tourism boom in southern Florida in the opening decades of the 20th century. This image from 1927 shows golfers on the putting green next to the massive hotel.

Jack Tar: To Which is Added, The World's a Stage; Astonishing Abraham Newland; The Sailor's Return

Robert Burns (1759-96) is best known for his poems and songs that reflect Scotland's cultural heritage. He was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland, the first of seven children belonging to William Burnes, a tenant farmer, and his wife Agnes Broun. Burns had little formal education, but he read English literature and absorbed the traditional, largely oral Scots-language folk songs and tales of his rural environment. He began to compose songs in 1774, and published his first book, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, in 1786. The work was a critical success, and its poems in both Scots and English, on a range of topics, established Burns’s broad appeal. While building his literary reputation, Burns worked as a farmer, and in 1788 he was appointed an excise officer in Ellisland. He spent the final 12 years of his life collecting and editing traditional Scottish folk songs for collections including The Scots Musical Museum and A Select Collection of Original Scotish [sic] Airs for the Voice. Burns contributed hundreds of Scottish songs to these anthologies, sometimes rewriting traditional lyrics and setting them to new or revised music. Burns’s works were widely distributed throughout Scotland and beyond in chapbooks. These small, inexpensive eight-page booklets were often illustrated with woodcuts and printed on coarse paper. Chapbooks (called garlands if they included songs) were a popular form of entertainment in the 18th and early 19th centuries and the principal way that ordinary people encountered songs and poetry. They were distributed by traveling "chapmen" who sold the books at markets and door-to-door in rural areas. Chapbooks often included poems by more than one author, and the authors were not identified.