PRJ 1013 Okefenokee

The majority of this series comes from fieldwork, vertical files, and administrative files related to the Okefenokee Traditional Music Survey, a fieldwork project funded by the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Community Folklife Program from 1998-2000. The project documented a distinctive folk region by updating the pioneering work (1912-51) of naturalist and amateur folklore collector, Francis Harper. A significant part of the series includes copies of Harper's field materials and manuscripts from Georgia Southern and the American Folklife Center/Library of Congress:

  • Photocopies of Francis Harper articles and field materials
  • Copies of selected Harper photos in 4 x 5 negs, copy negs, and digital formats
  • Copy of Harper movie footage
  • Copy of Harper field recordings from the summer of 1944

Ann Tweedy surveyed Harper's material from the University of Kansas.

In addition, the series includes 19 sides of DARE (Dictionary of American Regional English) tapes of informants from the Okefenokee dating from the 1960s.These were obtained from DARE at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The region surveyed includes seven counties of southeast Georgia and north Florida located in and around the Okefenokee Swamp, although documentation focused on the east and northeast sides. Many traditions Harper recorded still exist in some form; documentation in the series includes Primitive Baptist hymnody, hollering, fiddle, banjo and sacred harp (Note: sacred harp, although originally part of this project, is now part of PRJ 1004 Sacred Harp.). The series includes documentation of Roxie Chesser Crawford, who was recorded by Harper, and the current Chesser family descendents at the annual Chesser Homestead Open House in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (Note: a radio show on the Open House is part of the Sounds of South Georgia radio series; Wiregrass Ways featured hollering and palmetto broom making.). Newer material includes the Waycross Shrine All-Night Gospel Sing, the Twin Oaks Music Park Bluegrass Festival (Hoboken), the Cherokee Tribe of GA Powwow (St. George), and selected African American music events.

Browse this series on ArchivesSpace


Okefenokee Music Survey Final Report, 2000.

Okefenokee Swamp Folklore Article, 2000.

Okefenokee Folklife Overview, website.

Radio Programs

From Wiregrass Ways, originally aired on Georgia Public Radio in 1998

  • Sacred Harp, featuring David I. Lee, Hoboken Sacred Harp Singing Community, and Francis Harper 1944 recordings of the Chesser Quartet
  • Hollering, featuring Jack Roddenbery, Judy Drury, Tollie Lee, and Francis Harper 1944 recordings of Ben Chesser
  • Hymn Lining, featuring Tollie Lee, Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, and St. Lukes Primitive Baptist Churc
  • Palmetto Brooms, featuring Judy Drury, Bernice Chesser Roddenberry, and Roxie Chesser Crawford
  • Turpentine, featuring Alton Carter, Elliott West, and Eddie B. Robinson

From The Sounds of South Georgia, originally aired on Georgia Public Radio in 2006