Geographic Scope of the Collection
The 41 counties of the VSU service area encompass an underserved rural population characterized by longstanding British American, German American, and African American populations, small bands of Cherokee and Creek, an emergent but growing Hispanic population, and smaller pockets of other ethnic groups. The region contains as much land mass as some New England states and is home to the distinctive traditional arts of the Okefenokee, the Wiregrass, and the southern tier of Sea Islands. The region is rich in various folk art traditions; these include lined hymns, old-time country and bluegrass, a rich variety of gospel music (including two massive annual sings at Thomasville and Waycross), hollering, sacred harp, instrument making; tobacco auctioning; the last domestic turpentine operations in the United States; regional foods specialties such as mayhaw jelly, cane syrup, swamp gravy, gallberry honey, quail, and Brunswick stew; craft traditions such as wood carving, palmetto broom making, traditional watercraft, fish traps, fish lures, quilting, white oak basketry, traditional architecture; and newly emerging cultural traditions such as celebration of the Mexican fiestas guadalupanas and the Asian Indian Diwali. Quail hunting plantations and their associated traditions are important and distinctive features of the region. Coastal Camden County is home to various maritime traditions including shrimping and blessing of the fleet; Miller County has successfully incorporated local oral history and folklore into the cultural tourism production, "Swamp Gravy."
The South Georgia Folklife Collection also contains material from Florida counties, especially those bordering the Georgia state line, and some material from outside the VSU's 41-county service area.