Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942

Building the Digital Collection

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Digitizing the sound recordings

The sound recordings in Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, which were transferred from the original twelve-inch acetate disks to ten-inch, 7.5 inches-per-second (ips) analog tape reels in the 1960s, were transferred from the reels to digital audio tape (DAT) to produce a master source for digitization. The Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Laboratory of the Library of Congress made the transfers from the preservation tapes rather than the original disks because of the high level of surface noise on the disks.

WaveForm (.wav), MPEG 2, Layer 3 (.mp3), and RealAudio (.ra) versions have been supplied for each recording. The Wave files were created from the DAT tape at a sampling rate of 22,050 Hz per second, 16-bit word length, and a single (mono) channel. The RealAudio files were derived from the Wave files through digital processing and were created for users who have at least a 14.4 modem (8-bit). The MP3 files were derived from the Wave files in a batch-conversion process using the MP3 plug-in of Sonic Foundry's SoundForge software.

Surface noise will be apparent on the recordings, and tracks may start or end abruptly, as on the original recordings. Minimal adjustments were made to certain tracks, including the deletion of some inaudible snippets of conversation and the removal of as many pops and clicks as possible without further distorting the audio.


Digitizing the photographic prints

Ivy Bigbee of Ivy Bigbee Photography, Jacksonville, Florida, produced the digital images illustrating Stetson Kennedy's essay, "A Florida Treasure Hunt," and his biography.


Digitizing the manuscripts

Manuscript materials were scanned on site by the National Digital Library Program paper scanning and text conversion contractor, Systems Integration Group of Lanham, Maryland. UMAX flatbed scanners were used to digitize most of the manuscripts.

Typescript materials were converted to machine-readable form at an accuracy rate of 99.95 percent and encoded with Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), according to the American Memory Document Type Definition (DTD). This DTD is a markup scheme that conforms to the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), the work of a consortium of scholarly institutions. The texts of the transcripts have been translated to Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) for indexing and viewing on the World Wide Web.


Cataloging the collection

The data records for the audio files and manuscript items contain uncontrolled vocabulary. The process of cataloging these materials is described below.

The title used for each audio track generally is that listed in the card catalog in the Archive of Folk Culture. In some instances, if the card is missing or contains no title, the cataloger has taken information from the existing recording logs, dust jackets, minimal research outside the collection, and finally, by listening to the audio itself.
When a translation, in English, of a foreign-language item has been provided in the primary documentation, that information will appear below the title on the item's bibliographic record. When the foreign-language item's title was originally provided in English, the cataloger has sought an accurate title in the language of origin, and provided it in brackets, relegating the English title to the line below the title. Please note that diacritics for certain Czech and Slovak words are not available in the Latin-1 character set, so they have not been rendered in this online presentation.
Alternate spellings of titles are provided where discrepancies appear in the original documentation, and, when known, other titles for this song or tune are supplied. Given the fluid nature of folksongs and their titles in oral tradition, this can only be a partial list, but it is provided with the intent of helping users find particular tunes by titles which may be in wider use.
The descriptive title used for most manuscript items has been devised by Library of Congress staff and appears in brackets.
This field contains performers' names (last name first) and instruments. Because of field documentation techniques of that time, members of singing groups (church congregations, schoolchildren, etc.) were not always individually identified. In such instances the cataloger has supplied as much information as could be gathered. Alternate spellings of performers' names and alternate information about performers' identities are provided where discrepancies appear in the original documentation.
This field identifies the author of a particular manuscript, or the performer of a particular version of a transcribed song text. These names appear in the same order as performers' names: last name first.
This field provides supplementary information about the item.
This field contains classifications for the different ethnic groups represented in this collection.
This field documents the languages represented in a performance.
This field contains a list of the instruments used in the performance.
The "genre" terms used in this field consist of an uncontrolled indexing vocabulary devised while processing the collection, based on existing local subject-heading terms used in the American Folklife Center. Multiple genre terms were used to create as broad a subject search as possible. For example, lullabies have also been indexed as children's songs.
This field documents announcers, interviewers, interview subjects, and others audible in a recording, as distinguished from the performers.
This field lists the interviewer(s)/recordist(s) of the sound recordings.
This field contains the date on which the tune was recorded or the manuscript item was composed. Dates appear in the format yyyy/mm/dd.
This field provides as much information as possible about the specific site of the recording.
This field identifies related audio (if, for example, another recording of the same song by the same performer exists within the collection), and provides a link to the items.
This field identifies related manuscript items, such as the textual transcription of a song, and provides a link to the items.
The original format of the Library item, e.g. "sound recording" or "manuscript." For manuscript items, the number of pages is also provided.
The AFS number is an alphanumeric code assigned to an individual sound recording in the Archive of Folk Culture, which is used by staff to locate the item at the Library of Congress. This numbering system was put into use in the 1930s, and continued until the formation of the American Folklife Center in 1976. Because this number identifies individual recording tracks, it has also been used as the digital identifier for the online items.
Example: AFS 3135A:1
This field provides information on the source and location of the digital file for an item. It includes the collection-level digital identifier (the aggregate) and the filename of the particular digital item. In the case of audio items, the digital ID is the corresponding AFS number.
Example: afcflwpa 3135a1