South Georgia Folklife Project


The South Georgia Folklife Collection is a multi-genre ethnographic collection housed in the Archives and Special Collections of Odum Library at Valdosta State University. This collection is an outgrowth of the South Georgia Folklife Project, founded by Dr. Laurie Sommers in 1996. It reflects ten years of field documentation and public programs from 1996-2006. Highlights of the collection include Southeast Georgia Sacred Harp, Okefenokee Music Survey, Flint River fisheries, Traditions of Turpentiners, Folkwriting (Lessons on Place, Heritage and Traditions for the Georgia Classroom), online exhibits, and a radio archives of documentary programs


The collection is organized into 12 series which reflect topical foci. The series for the collection are as follows:

Series 1: Project 1002 Turpentine
Series 2: Project 1003 South Georgia Folklife Project General. Sources include books, articles,
commercial audio and video recordings, and a vertical file (organized topically and geographically).
Series 3: Project 1004 Sacred Harp of Southeast Georgia
Series 4: Project 1005 Suckerfish
Series 5: Project 1007 Wiregrass (radio and exhibit materials, and copies of some documentation from the
original 1977 Library of Congress field survey titled "the South Central Georgia Folkife Project")
Series 6: Project 1008 Last Harvest (seasonal and agricultural workers)
Series 7: Project 1009 Folkwriting
Series 8: Project 1010 Sounds of South Georgia (radio and accompanying fieldwork on diverse cultural groups)
Series 9: Project 1011 Exploring Community Heritage
Series 10: Project 1012 Student Projects (from courses taught by Laurie K. Sommers)
Series 11: Project 1013 Okefenokee
Series 12 Multimedia Materials

See the Finding Aid for additional information

A tobacco crew sits on an old truck outside of an old house.

Wiregrass Folklife

"Folklife of Wiregrass Georgia" focuses on continuity and change in the traditional culture of South Georgia. Traditional culture is also called folklife, or traditions learned and passed on informally which have shaped the region's distinctive sense of place and identity. Early European settlers called this area "Wiregrass Country" after the lush native grass that grew beneath stands of longleaf pine.



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Members congregate inside a primitive wood chruch

Sacred Harp

This exhibit celebrates one of southeast Georgia's most distinctive and cherished traditions: the style of three or four part, unaccompanied religious singing called "Sacred Harp" which has been a part of the local community since the mid 1800s. The Sacred Harp singing style originated in colonial New England and later spread to the American South where states like Georgia continue singing traditions of great power and beauty.


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A jolly looking turpentine worker sits on a horse drawn wagon in the piney woods.

Highlights

This exhibit provides a virtual tour of selected materials from the South Georgia Folklife Collection, housed at the Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections. The collection is an outgrowth of the South Georgia Folklife Project (1996-2006), a public folklore program for the southern third of Georgia which documented and presented the traditional arts and culture of the region.



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A turpentine worker collects sap from a pine tree.

Turpentine

“Faces” in the Piney Woods: Traditions of Turpentining in South Georgia is a multi-media website from an oral history project of the South Georgia Folklife Project at Valdosta State University. It reflects the perspective of the field of folklore and focuses on the occupational folklife of South Georgia turpentine workers. This site contains information gathered from 1998-2004 through background research, photographs, video, and oral interviews. It includes information on work in the woods and life in the turpentine camps as told by those who lived it. This project is supported in part by an award from the Georgia Council for the Arts through the Appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. The Council is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Radio Archives

South Georgia folklife has been featured in various public radio programs which have used audio gathered by the South Georgia Folklife Project. The South Georgia Folklife Collection now houses the original audio and radio archives. "Wiregrass Ways," "Sounds of South Georgia," and "Hoboken-style Sacred Harp Singing" are featured series. Interviews, field recordings, and other audio materials can be found in the radio archives as well.

Explore

This finding aid itemizes the contents of the South Georgia Folklife Collection, housed in the Archives and Special Collections of Odum Library at Valdosta State University. This multi-genre and multi-format ethnographic collection is an outgrowth of the South Georgia Folklife Project, founded by folklorist and ethnomusicologist Dr. Laurie Kay Sommers in 1996. It reflects ten years of field documentation and public programs from 1996-2006. Highlights of the collection include Southeast Georgia Sacred Harp, Okefenokee Music Survey, Flint River fisheries, Traditions of Turpentiners, Folkwriting (Lessons on Place, Heritage and Traditions for the Georgia Classroom), online exhibits, and a radio archives of documentary programs originally broadcast on Georgia Public Radio and other public radio affiliates.