Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston (1891? – 1960) was a writer, poet, dramatist, and anthropologist. She wrote one her most well-known books, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) based in Eatonville, a town about four hours north of Miami, where she spent her early years. She claims to have been born in Eatonville, Florida in 1901, but most sources show that she was actually born in Notasulga, Alabama, in 1891. Hurston studied Anthropology at Columbia University with Franz Boas, and though she was prevented from finishing her formal education she conducted extensive amounts of field research. Much of this research is now housed by the Library of Congress. Today, she is widely recognized as one of the foremost literary figures of the Harlem Renaissance for her literary work including novels and plays.
Her time in Miami and South Florida was marked by her work with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and as a stop-over place for her frequent trips to the Caribbean and Latin America. In 1935 and 1939, Hurston was one of the writers hired by the WPA under the Federal Writer’s Project (FWP) to contribute to Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State. For this project she spent time in many cities and towns throughout the state recording folk tales, songs, games, and the general descriptions of places and people. During the 1950s, Hurston spent time in Miami and Miami Beach as she continued her writing, traveled to the Caribbean for research, and became involved in local politics. She lived in various locations including on a boat near the MacArthur Causeway and on the Venetian Islands.
Portrait of author Zora Neale HurstonUnknown Photographer
Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston by Carl Van Vechten
Zora Neale Hurston, Rochelle French, and Gabriel Brown, Eatonville, Florida by Alan Lomax
Zora Neale Hurston and three boys in Eatonville, Florida
Image Source (Top): - State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Image Number PR75843 - date unknown