Friday, August 13, 2010

The Florida Memory Archives

photo-postcard from the Florida Photographic Collection

After discussing the Farm Security Administration archives and the Captured in Color exhibit recently, it seems like a perfect moment to bring The Florida Memory site into the conversation. Administered by the state's Library & Archives department, the Florida Memory archives is a  comprehensive (and gorgeously designed) site that is fully-searchable; they offer an exhaustive list of photographs, postcards and films in their Photographic Collection, as well as a fascinating array of high-quality scans of important historical documents. They also offer an Online Classroom with education resources appropriate to Floridians, but also to students from any location--and the site's online exhibits are also provocative starting points for classroom discussion, contemplation or artistic inspiration (check out Pestilence, Potions, and Persistence: Early Florida Medicine).

There's yet another facet of this site that will interest a number of our readers. Adam from 50 Miles of Elbow Room introduced me to the Florida Folklife Collection portion of the Florida Memory site, which contains the absolutely exhaustive documentation of the Florida Folk Festival. Visitors will find complete listings and information on each year's festival, from the 1950's to the present day. What's even more impressive about this resource is that the performances from 1954-1979 are offered directly, for streaming or download, at no charge. Every conceivable form of folk music is represented here: gospel, shape note singing, blues, Native American song, (to name a few) as well as traditional music from around the world.

What's more, for those who would prefer a more concise selection from the Festival, The Florida Folklife Collection has created four compilations. These are available as complimentary mp3 downloads, but they will also send the CD versions of these compilations to your home for free. The discs are wonderful, and they capture the rich variety of performances across the decades, from well-known acts such as the Stanley Brothers to local folk musicians. 

Included below are a few short films of the Festival and Florida folklife available at their site, and also at their Youtube page: